McLaren Speedtail

The fastest McLaren ever built has been unveiled, complete with hybrid powertrain and groundbreaking aerodynamic design. Words: Ali Philips.


Twist in the tail

Not only is the Speedtail the first McLaren to be developed under the OEM’s new Track25 business plan, but the hybrid vehicle – the British manufacturer’s first Hyper-GT model – will be the fastest car the company has ever built. A petrol-electric hybrid powertrain will deliver a combined 1,050ps, capable of pushing the Speedtail to a top speed of 403km/h (250mph). The car is so powerful that McLaren has even skipped over the usual 0-100km/h stats, instead claiming a 0-300km/h (0-186mph) time of 12.8 seconds.

2019 Speedtail the first McLaren to be developed under the OEM’s new Track25 business plan

2019 Speedtail the first McLaren to be developed under the OEM’s new Track25 business plan

Unveiled to future owners and customers at a private event in London in late 2018, the OEM is, for now, light on the powertrain specifics. It did however reveal some of the aerodynamic measures that make the Speedtail the most aero-drag efficient McLaren road car yet designed. The elongated 5.2m carbon-fiber bespoke body contains a teardrop-shaped cockpit that will seat three. Carbon-fiber, front-wheel static aero covers remain fixed in position while the wheels rotate. The covers work in conjunction with multiple ducts and air paths to reduce turbulent air within the wheel arches. Retractable digital rearview cameras replace traditional wing mirrors, while a pair of active rear ailerons form part of the rear clamshell. Hydraulically activated, these are formed from flexible carbon fiber, enabling the body of the Speedtail to actually bend.

Air supply

A pair of intakes behind the glass canopy provide the required airflow to the powertrain, while cooling is provided by carefully designed aerodynamics that have been previously seen on the McLaren P1, the second-generation Super Series and the Senna. Intakes for the high-temperature radiators are mounted on the shoulders of the vehicle, within the doors. Raised front wings and flush glazing keep the airflow close to the vehicle, driving the air over the front fenders, into the door channels, and then into the petrol-electric powertrain.

The subtly named Velocity mode, developed for the Speedtail, optimizes the hybrid powertrain and tailors the angle of the active rear ailerons. The digital rear-view cameras can also be retracted to further reduce drag. The Velocity active chassis control lowers the car by 35mm (1.5in), thereby reducing the Speedtail’s maximum height from the road surface to 1,120mm (44in).

“As our first Hyper-GT, the Speedtail is the ultimate McLaren road car,” explains McLaren chief executive officer Mike Flewitt. “A groundbreaking hybrid powertrain sits within a lightweight carbon-fiber body that is reminiscent of sleek streamliners that once set world speed records.”

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