McLaren Speedtail is a Slippery Successor to Legendary F1

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The Speedtail carries on the F1’s lineage of eye-popping exterior styling, a 1+2 interior layout, and an outrageous top speed.

When it came out in the 1990s, the McLaren F1 was a singularity. No other car looked like it. No other car had its unusual center driver’s seat. And its 243-mph top speed meant it could outrun its exotic rivals from Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Jaguar. In fact, it remained a singularity for years after McLaren stopped producing it because the British automaker stayed out of the street car market until it introduced the MP4-12C in 2011. In the years since then, McLaren has manufactured several other models, including the range-topping P1 and Senna. However, there hasn’t been a true successor to the F1 until now. It’s called the McLaren Speedtail.

In the video above, Top Gear magazine’s deputy editor Jack Rix gives us a tour of the latest addition to McLaren’s Ultimate Series of cars, which also includes the P1 and Senna. As he puts it, “It’s about elegance, extreme acceleration, and … top speed.” Whereas the Senna prioritizes track-time function over form, the Speedtail uses dramatically sleek lines, minimal shut lines, flush air holes that feed air to the mid-mounted engine, and an elongated tail to achieve its top speed of 250 mph – 42 mph higher than the Senna’s and seven mph north of the F1’s. All of those design elements combine to make the Speedtail appear “as elegant as the Senna is ugly,” according to Rix.

6speedonline.com McLaren Speedtail Top Gear

For its time, the 627-horsepower, V12 McLaren F1 was an extremely powerful machine. The Speedtail can also boast an insane amount of horsepower, but it goes about generating it in a different way. Thanks to a combination of electric-motor and gas-engine power, it cranks out 1,035 horsepower. Nix said, “To go with the carbon monocoque, is full carbon panels, keeping the weight to 1,430 kilograms [3,153 pounds] dry. That’s just 35 kilograms [77 pounds] more than the P1.”

Those figures allow the Speedtail to rocket to 186 mph in 12.8 seconds. It’s fast on paper and also quick in comparison to its siblings. The P1 gets to the same speed 3.7 seconds later. The F1? It would hit 186 mph roughly 10 seconds after the Speedtail.

6speedonline.com McLaren Speedtail Top Gear

Inside is where the Speedtail bears the strongest resemblance to the F1. It has three seats: two on the sides and one in the middle. The driver faces five screens which display things such as speed, revs, media, and navigation. All of the controls for starting the Speedtail and using its transmission are up top.

Just as it did with the F1, McLaren will stop producing the Speedtail once it makes 106 cars. It hasn’t delivered a customer car yet, but all of them are already spoken for. A McLaren three-seater with a rabid following that can blow past 240 mph? Yep, it sounds as if the Speedtail is off to a great start carrying on the F1’s DNA.

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management from Texas State University, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism from Austin Community College as well. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK-Forum.com and Ford-Trucks.com, Derek also contributes to other outlets. He started There Will Be Cars on Instagram and Facebook to get even more automotive content out to fellow enthusiasts.

Derek can be contacted at [email protected]

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