The British sports car company McLaren has revealed a new 1,035 horsepower three-seat hybrid supercar with a price tag of $2.25 million, or £1.75 million.
Only 106 of these cars will be made, and all of them have already been sold. About a third of them are expected to go to buyers in the United States despite the fact that, technically, the Speedtail isn’t legal to drive on public streets here. But there is a way around that.
The Speedtail has three seats arranged in a triangle. The driver sits front and center with a passenger behind each shoulder. The same seating arrangement was used in McLaren’s most famous supercar, called the F1, in the 1990s.
That center driving position violates US safety rules, a McLaren spokesman said. So do the pop-out video cameras that replace the car’s side mirrors. Americans who have bought the car can apply for a special “show or display” exception that’s often given to “technologically significant” cars that don’t meet all the rules here. That same sort of exemption was given to buyers of the original F1 when it was new.
Speed and luxury
McLaren calls the Speedtail a “hyper-GT car.” GT stands for Grand Touring, an indication the car is designed for luxury and comfort as much as for outright speed. The interior is covered in soft and expensive, but lightweight, Scandinavian leathers. The driver’s seat has a special “directional” finish that makes it easy to slide into but also helps hold the driver in place during hard turns.
Like other McLaren models, the Speedtail is made largely out of carbon fiber, an expensive but strong and light material. Some visible parts of the car are made from a special carbon fiber with a very thin layer of titanium fused to it. This gives the material a shimmering appearance that can have a variety of colors. In other places, extremely thin layers of carbon fiber are laid over one another then shaved away in spots to create a stratified look that resembles rippling water. The McLaren and Speedtail badges on the car are made from 18-carat white gold.
Most of the car’s controls, other than those directly related to driving, are operated through a bank of touch screens. There a some buttons, switches and knobs, such as those for starting the car and putting it in drive or reverse. These are mounted above the driver’s head.
Moving through the air
The Speedtail’s body is nearly 17 feet long, almost as long as a Mercedes-Benz S-class full-sized sedan. That copious length is sculpted to optimize the car’s aerodynamics. Fittingly, the Speedtail is wing-shaped, allowing it to slip easily though the air while causing as little speed-robbing turbulence as possible. The small video cameras that are used in place of side mirrors — video images are displayed on two screens inside the car — largely eliminate the aerodynamic drag mirrors can cause.
The front wheels are covered in aerodynamic shields that stay still as the wheels spin. These prevent the wheels from disrupting air flow over the car. A pair of flaps seamlessly connected to the back of the car move up and down automatically providing the right amount of downward force to the rear wheels.
A special “Velocity Mode” allows the car to reach its 250 mile per hour top speed. In this mode, the car drops 1.4 inches, or 35 millimeters, closer to the road and the side cameras retract into the car’s body. McLaren isn’t providing technical details of the Speedtail’s hybrid power system, but the gasoline engine is expected to be similar to the turbocharged V8s used in other McLaren cars.
The first Speedtails will be delivered to customers in 2020, McLaren said.