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Full throttle: McLaren Speedtail hypercar reaches 250mph top speed in testing

By Paul Connolly

McLaren’s new hypercar, the Speedtail, has reached its 250mph speed target during testing in the US.

The Speedtail hit the 250mph mark 30 times during workouts at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, marking the end of its development phase.

The car has now gone into production in Working, with a production run of 106 models set.

Each version of the petrol-electric hybrid Speedtail will cost around £1.75 million pounds before taxes.

The extraordinarily long (5.2m) Speedtail, with its huge rear overhang, is the successor to McLaren’s famed F1 hypercar. It’s the first McLaren to be styled as a ‘Hyper-GT’ (grand tourer).

The rear overhang isn’t just for looks, it’s designed to provide storage space and also helps to keep the car on the road using downforce using various tricks including hydraulic carbon-fibre flaps.

“It’s fitting that the Speedtail’s high-speed test programme concluded with multiple maximum-speed runs at a location strongly associated with pushing the boundaries of extreme performance and engineering excellence,” said McLaren’s Mike Flewitt.

“The Speedtail is a truly extraordinary car that epitomises McLaren’s pioneering spirit and perfectly illustrates our determination to continue to set new benchmarks for supercar and hypercar performance.”

The Speedtail sits at the pinnacle of the McLaren Ultimate Series. The carbon-fibre-bodied three-seater is the most aerodynamically drag efficient McLaren ever and a showcase for the brand’s expertise in lightweight engineering.

Its petrol-electric hybrid powertrain delivers the greatest power and torque of any McLaren road car, with a combined 1,070PS (1,055bhp) and 1,150Nm.

The straight-line acceleration and maximum speed of the car set new benchmarks for McLaren, with 0-186mph achieved in less than 13 seconds before heading on to that 250mph max velocity.

The McLaren-developed battery pack has a power density of 5.2kW/kg, which the company says is the best power-to-weight ratio of any automotive high voltage battery system.

The batteries constantly self-charge when the Speedtail is driven – there is no ‘plug-in’ element – however, a wireless charging pad that trickle-charges and maintains the battery’s status when the vehicle is not in use is also included as standard.

The driver sits centrally, with two passengers either side but slightly behind.

There is no gear stick, so the driver can climb in from either side of the vehicle.

The Speedtail is built around a bespoke McLaren Monocage carbon fibre structure and benefits from lightweight engineering throughout, including an all-carbon fibre body, aluminium active suspension and carbon ceramic brakes.

The 250mph top speed is achieved in a unique Velocity mode, which has been developed specifically for the car.

The Velocity Active Chassis Control can lower the Speedtail by 35mm, leaving the highest point of the vehicle just 1,120mm from the road surface.

Amongst other touches are:

  • There are no mirrors, it uses retractable digital rear-view cameras that stream real time images to the cockpit
  • There also no sun visors - advanced electrochromic glass darkens the top of the windscreen at the touch of a button, removing the need for sun visors
  • The doors are double-skinned, power-operated dihedral affairs with single-piece ‘wrapover’ lightweight glazing.

The Speedtail it won’t be the last of its kind - McLaren says its the first of 18 new cars or derivatives to be announced under its Track25 business plan.

First deliveries are expected in late spring – with most models likely to cost well over £2 million after tax and a large options list are taken into account.

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