When the Speedtail was revealed at MTC late last year, someone in the press huddle asked Andy Palmer - the Vehicle Line Manager for Ultimate Series - where precisely he planned on testing the car's much-vaunted top speed. He chuckled and acknowledged that it was a legitimate problem given the lack of speed-appropriate proving grounds - but McLaren were considering all possibilities. Evidently these included Idiada in Spain and Papenburg in Germany (the latter features a 12.3km oval circuit) where much of the development work was completed.
For final validation though, the firm picked a doozy: the Shuttle Landing Facility at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The three-mile runway is an engineering feat of its own, designed to compensate for the curvature of the earth with only a 1/4 inch difference end to end. It is no stranger to OEM V-max testing (the site is otherwise known as the Johnny Bohmer Proving Ground) but McLaren could hardly have asked for anywhere more evocative to repeatedly send its XP2 prototype to 250mph.
Naturally the job fell to chief test driver, Kenny Brack, who completed more than 30 stints on the 100-yard-wide runway. McLaren says that the test runs concluded the Speedtail's dynamic development programme, reiterating that the petrol-electric 'hyper GT' is the fastest and most technically advanced car it has ever endeavoured to build. With 1,070hp and 848lb ft of torque it is certainly the most powerful, and has already achieved new benchmarks for straight-line performance, including a 12.8-second 0-186mph time (for reference, the Bugatti Chiron takes 13.1 seconds).
"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," commented McLaren Automotive CEO, 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."
Among the car's innovations is the McLaren-developed battery pack which is said to boast the best power-to-weight ratio of any automotive high voltage battery system at 5.2kW/kg. It constantly self-charges when the Speedtail is being driven, meaning there is no 'plug-in' element to the firm's latest hybrid model. Instead, the wireless charging pad which comes as standard is intended to 'trickle-charge' the battery when the car is not in use.
With the test phase complete, McLaren says production of the Speedtail has already in begun in Woking. Just 106 examples will be built, with deliveries due to commence next February. Each car started life with a £1.75m price tag, and was sold long before it was unveiled to the public.
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