Seven days with a supercar makes one weak. Especially when it’s the 212mph McLaren 720S.
McLaren and Nissan have joined aerospace company Meggitt in the race to develop and manufacture ventilators. The equipment is desperately needed in the fight against coronavirus, which attacks the respiratory system.
Ventilators are in short supply in the UK at the moment, such that prime minister Boris Johnson has called upon industrial leaders to redirect their focus.
Thus McLaren, which was hard at work preparing to deliver 106 seven-figure Speedtail hypercars, is now helping make medical equipment.
The initiative is working under the leadership of Dick Elsy, chief executive of High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a Solihull-based research centre.
The target is to manufacture 5,000 ventilators as soon as possible, and follow up with a further 30,000. The UK’s current ventilator supply is around 5,000 – far short of what may be needed. The effort is targeting the manufacture of a basic prototype by next week.
At last count (Wednesday 19 March), the number of people infected with coronavirus in the UK sat was around 2,600, with more than 100 deaths.
According to sources close to The Financial Times, McLaren is lending its design expertise to the effort, while Nissan is leading on the manufacturing side. Other aerospace companies working on the project include GKN, Airbus, Thales and Renishaw. Airbus, for instance, is lending its 3D printing capabilities to the project.
This follows news yesterday that Vauxhall was getting in on the ventilator effort, lending assistance with 3D printing. Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls-Royce have also said they will provide support.
McLaren Automotive admits it still has work to do in terms of brand awareness, but the company is outperforming expectations in one important channel – digital.
“We have 12-year-olds bringing their dads into our showrooms, saying they must check out the new McLaren,” said Jolyon Nash, global sales and marketing director.
“Their dad might not be fully aware of us, but I’ve anecdotally heard of some ending up buying a McLaren instead of a rival supercar.”
Mr Nash says the brand’s extensive exposure in video games, “which are mainly played by teenagers,” is leading to heightened brand awareness in the younger generation.
Other age groups, however, perform less well. “Target buyers in certain regions of the world are still not aware that McLaren makes supercars at all.”
The British brand’s focus for the foreseeable future is therefore doubling down on reaching these groups, rather than broadening out into other luxury sectors outside of automotive.
“It’s old fashioned hard marketing: talking to customers, getting people into the product – basic hard graft.
“We are still a young automotive brand; we only took our first car to market in mid-2011.
“We’ve enjoyed good growth, but we still have work to do in the broader car market.”
‘Geneva in Woking’
“It was a huge effort by the team but it was nice for everyone here to actually see the cars they’ve worked on revealed first-hand.
“I like Geneva but communications is changing and it shows there are different ways to do things.
“We will be analysing it in full and comparing the exposure to what we normally expect at a motor show, in terms of investment versus return.
“It’s early in the day but so far we’re very pleased with what we’ve got.”
The GT is a Gran Turismo – or perhaps the anglicised (and somewhat less exotic) ‘Grand Tourer’, given it hails from Woking. It’s designed for going far and fast, blatting across Europe on hedonistic weekends away.
So while a common-or-garden supercar has just enough room for a passport, toothbrush and spare pair of pants, the GT has 570 litres of luggage capacity: more than a Range Rover Evoque.
There are some caveats, though. The ‘frunk’ beneath the bonnet can accommodate a small wheelie case, but the main boot sits atop the mid-mounted engine. Accessed via a glassy tailgate, it’s long and shallow: fine if your weekend involves skiing or golf, less so if you enjoy mountain biking.
And unlike some ‘2+2’ rivals, there are no rear seats to stash bulkier bags. Still, there’s plenty of room for pants.
The £163,000 GT is easier to live with than most McLarens, too. It retains the marque’s signature butterfly doors, but they soft-close with a mechanised click. It has plush heated seats rather than masochistic fixed-back buckets. And its snug cabin is enhanced by subtle ambient lighting, premium Bowers and Wilkins hi-fi and an electrochromic roof that darkens at the touch of a button. Optional cashmere upholstery is a world-first for a production car.
It also sounds less rambunctious than you’d expect, albeit still loud enough to wake your neighbours at 5:30am (she texted me later to complain). With smaller turbochargers than the 720S, it makes 620hp at 7,500rpm, but a kerb weight of just 1,530kg – 50kg less than a Porsche 911 Carrera, mainly thanks to an F1-style carbon fibre chassis – means performance is hardly muted. Use launch control and it passes 62mph in 3.2 seconds, with a 203mph top speed.
The 4.0-litre V8 feels a little flat until 3,000rpm, then a torrent of turbocharged boost scoops you up like a tsunami. The whoosh to warp-speed is like opening a shaken-up can of cola: an explosion of energy that makes you laugh out loud before glancing worriedly at the speedo. On public roads, you’ll need iron resolve to resist it.
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Especially once you escape the city. The GT lays siege to a B-roads with aggressive turn-in, shattering speed and abundant tactility. Proactive Chassis Control suspension is a carry-over from the 720S, and while it doesn’t inherit that car’s active anti-roll system, it feels tied-down and tenacious. The hydraulic power steering is an utter joy, too. Short of doing a handstand in the road, your palms couldn’t feel more connected to the tarmac. Only the iron brakes feel slightly soft, lacking the bite of McLaren’s usual carbon-ceramic discs (they cost extra).
As for the GT’s grand touring credentials, the picture is more mixed. Its canopy-style cockpit offers excellent visibility, the dual-clutch auto gearbox can be left to its own devices and the front splitter isn’t so low that speed humps provoke a buttock-clenching sense of fear. On the minus side, the boomy exhaust gets tiresome on motorways, its infotainment is baffling and ride quality is unflinchingly firm.
Ultimately, the McLaren isn’t as comfortable as the benchmark Bentley Continental GT, yet it’s more rewarding on the right road. Nor is it as outrageously exciting as the 720S, but it costs nearly £50,000 less. Assuming its well-heeled customers don’t simply buy the Bentley and a 720S, McLaren may have found a new niche. It certainly thinks so, predicting the GT will take 25 percent of sales.
Top speed: 203mph
CO2 G/KM: 270
MPG combined: 23.7
McLaren GT: in pictures
It’s called the One Plus Concept One, and to help you pick up on the affiliation with McLaren, it’s resplendent in the supercar maker’s famous Papaya Orange hue, used for the soft grained semi-aniline leather case.
“At McLaren we select the best quality leathers produced in the UK, Ireland and Scotland,” said Jo Lewis, Colour and Materials Design Manager at McLaren Automotive.
“Our design at McLaren embraces the natural features of the leather through the subtle grain variation which adds character to each car – making each McLaren completely unique and therefore making this OnePlus concept device follow in a similar unique path.”
“Invisible cameras” through McLaren-style glass tech
On the back there’s also a McLaren logo at the top, above where you might expect the cameras to be.
And they ARE there – you just can’t see them until you need them. That’s because the Concept One phone (not to be confused with the Rimac electric hypercar) uses colour-shifting glass tech pioneered by McLaren to hide the cameras.
This electrochromic glass tech was first used by McLaren on the 720S Spider, GT and, likely, the upcoming Speedtail hypercar. It can change the amount of shade in it, and the amount of light it lets through, when an electric current is passed through.
On the McLaren road cars, it’s comprised of multiple layers of glass, and that doesn’t change for the One Plus Concept One. Given the fact it covers cameras, rather than passengers, and that it’s on a phone, it has to be a lot thinner.
The layers on this Concept Phone’s camera area are a scarcely believable 0.1 mm (0.0039 in) thick each, for a total of 0.35 mm (0.013 in). One Plus says that’s about as thin as the screen protector you might have put on your phone.
So what about the shade shift? You’ll want your cameras working at their best the instant you open the app, so it has to be swift. And it is, taking just 0.7 seconds to go from solid black to fully clear.
That means the glass changes quicker than the app itself takes to open.
The tinted glass is also put to further use in front of the cameras. The software allows it to let three differing levels of light into the lenses. That means you don’t necessarily have to play with ISO settings or shutter speed. Clever stuff.
So can you buy this little slice of McLaren luxury and cleverness? Nope, sorry. As the name suggests, it’s just a concept… for now.
The exclusive McLaren Beverly Hills dealership has revealed details of three special bespoke examples of the Senna XP hypercar.
Built by the McLaren Special Operations team, each of the three cars features a design that pays tribute to Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna.
Along with providing a name for McLaren’s most recent Ultimate Series car, Senna also won three F1 World Championships driving for the British team. Key events from his time with the racing outfit are celebrated with these cars.
Master of Monaco
The Monaco Grand Prix is the toughest test for any Formula 1 driver. Senna took six wins on the streets of Monte Carlo, demonstrating his immense talent.
All three of the Senna XP cars feature an exposed carbon body with a gloss finish applied. Details based on the flags from the countries which hosted Senna’s greatest moments are then applied by hand to the rear wing and other external trim.
For the Master of Monaco car, this means red and white highlights being applied. The interior also features red seat trim, red tint for the exposed carbon trim, and a special 1 of 1 dedication plaque.
Lap of the Gods
One of the singlest greatest examples of the abilities possessed by Ayrton Senna came at the 1993 European Grand Prix. Held at Donington Park in the United Kingdom, Senna started fifth on the grid ahead of the race in the rain.
The Brazilian driver ended the first lap in the lead, having simply outdriven the competition in the demanding conditions. He would go on to win the race by more than 1 minute ahead of Damon Hill in second.
The Senna XP Lap of the Gods car wears a large Union Jack across the rear wing. All three cars have bespoke painted brake calipers, plus unique accelerator pedals and a steering wheel with a unique 12 o’clock marker.
Home Victory (Vitória em casa)
The final car of the trio, Home Victory, pays tribute to one of Senna’s greatest wins. At the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix, with his McLaren stuck in sixth gear by the end of the race, Senna still went on to cross the finish line in first place.
With a Brazilian flag on the wing, combined with yellow and green exterior detailing, Home Victory certainly stands out. The interior is also resplendent in green, with the custom work to create the cars having taken some 780 hours.
The Senna XP models are created from the initial prototype and test models made by McLaren, and are in addition to the 500 production examples. Each Senna XP has been rebuilt, and uses a 789 horsepower twin-turbo V-8 engine.
Prices are set to be accordingly high, with each example having a MSRP of $1,435,328 (£1.88 m). The cars can only be purchased through the McLaren Beverly Hills dealership.
Despite the Senna being limited to 500 initial examples, McLaren has already produced a number of variations. The Senna GTR, a track-only version, saw 75 examples made, whilst the recently announced McLaren Elva will essentially be an open-top version of the Senna.
Regular readers may recall I said the McLaren 600LT was the most exciting car I drove in 2018. My review concluded: ‘The [forthcoming] 600LT Spider is essentially the same, but with a folding hard-top roof. Will that end up being the best driver’s car launched in 2019? Don’t bet against it’. Time to discover if McLaren has done the double.
First, though, a quick recap. The 600LT is a harder, faster version of McLaren’s ‘junior’ 570S supercar: less daily-driver, more track-day toy. The LT suffix stands for ‘Longtail’, and you’ll find a fixed spoiler and twin top-exit exhausts on the elongated rear deck. Some parts, such as the lowered suspension and bigger brakes, are borrowed from the more exotic 720S, while power climbs by 30hp to 600hp.
The 600LT’s F1-style carbon fibre chassis is so stiff that chopping off its top requires no extra bracing. The electric roof – which folds in 15 seconds at up to 25mph – adds 48kg, but the Spider still weighs up to 100kg less than its 570S sibling, depending on which options you choose. The thinly-padded racing seats from the Senna hypercar are 3.66kg lighter, for instance, while titanium wheel bolts shave a further 420g. Masochists can even forgo air conditioning (12.6kg) and an audio system (3.3kg) in the quest to cut kilos.
On-paper performance is scarcely compromised versus the coupe. Zero to 62mph takes an identical 2.9 seconds and, at 201mph (or a hair-raising 196mph with the roof down), few will quibble about a 3mph deficit flat-out. This latest Longtail isn’t just about straight-line speed, though: corners are its specialist subject. With that in mind, I set my alarm for 5am, fire up the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 – thus waking up most of south London – and flee the city for deepest Suffolk, in search of B-road bliss.
It’s before dawn and I still have the M25 to contend with so, rather than going fully topless, I retract the drop-down rear window. The truncated tailpipes, which spit flames at high revs, are now inches behind my unguarded eardrums, their furious rasps and downshift detonations so hard-edged they could crack concrete. Previous McLarens were criticised for sounding muted. Not this one. My 600LT Spider does have a stereo (3.3kg penalty be damned), but I don’t switch it on once.
McLaren 600LT Spider on test.
Vital stats: 600hp, 0-62mph in 2.9sec, 23.2mpg and 276g/km.
Price before options: £201,500. Price as tested: £251,710. pic.twitter.com/bmEqzmCiMz
— Tim Pitt (@timpitt100) August 1, 2019
As the sun burns away the morning dew, I exit the A12 and fold the roof fully. The effect is like licking salt after downing a double tequila: an intoxicating sensory overload. The V8 revs like a superbike, body control is utterly iron-fisted and the 600LT’s hydraulic steering is so direct it feels almost precognitive. It turns into bends with motorsport-grade adhesion, then punches outwards with concussive force. This blend of deft dynamics with shock-and-awe savagery is something only the more focused Ferraris and Porsche’s GT cars can equal.
It’s not perfect, though. The 600LT coupe is incredible on-track, as I learned last year at the Hungaroring, and I’ve no doubt the Spider would feel just as tenacious and explosive. Likewise, on smooth roads, it’s hard to imagine a more rewarding way to lose your licence. However, on broken British tarmac, with all its cracks and potholes, the 600LT can feel too firm and unflinching. By the time I rejoin the M25 home, I’m like a tired toddler suffering a sugar-crash.
So, today’s nugget of prudent consumer advice: if you want a daily-driver, go for the softer-sprung 570S. A weekend plaything? Definitely the 600LT. As for the best driver’s car of 2019, we have a few months of the year left – and a review of the new Porsche Cayman GT4 still to come. Place your bets now.
Top speed: 201mph
CO2 G/KM: 266
MPG combined: 24.1
In pictures: McLaren 600LT Spider
The McLaren Senna has officially been recalled due to a fire risk. This follows numerous reports of cars combusting, including the Senna of famous YouTuber, Salomondrin.
The cause of the fires has until now been unknown. However, the recall details an issue with wiring sustaining heat damage.
A branch of the vehicle harness runs close to a metal link pipe heat shield. The heat damage causes overfueling to the engine, which then increases catalyst temperatures. It’s the catalyst that has been identified as the source of the fire risk.
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NEVER LOOK BACK. LIVE IN THE NOW. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL! TO NEW BEGINNINGS ?? @salomundotv NO NOS AFERREMOS DEL PASADO Y VIVAMOS EN EL AHORA! MUY FELIZ AÑO Y CON TODO HACIA ADELANTE!! ?? @thesvipe (see it’s part of our lives).
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Cars affected were built between 21 June 2018 and 20 June 2019. McLaren advises owners that if they think their car may be affected, they should contact their McLaren dealer urgently, if it hasn’t already contacted them.
Salomondrin (real name Alejandro Salomon) posted a video of his car catching fire in January. He’d had the car less than two weeks, and had done around 400 miles, when it went up while he was driving. He claimed that while driving he noticed sparks and fire shooting from his exhaust, landing on the ground and staying lit.
He found an area where the car could burn without fear of setting surrounding trees or foliage on fire, and left it to do its thing.
The Senna joins a host of recent supercars that have suffered from fire issues. During testing recently, a prototype for the McLaren Speedtail burst into flames in Surrey, England.
A prominent past case of combusting supercars was the Porsche 911 GT3 of 2013. Following reports of multiple fires, Porsche recalled all ‘new’ GT3s for significant engine work.
Likewise, with the Ferrari 458, there were multiple incidents of cars catching fire. It was recalled for a change in adhesive, to a less flammable type.
McLaren is flexing its official Certification program by MSO again this year, by showing off chassis F1 #63 in a freshly-restored and newly-certified state. You can see it in person at Hampton Court Concours d’Elegance 2019 next week.
The restoration took 18 months, and involved a full engine and transmission rebuild, and a complete interior retrim.
On the inside, new leather and alcantara trim is complemented by a new steering wheel taken from MSO’s stockpile of original parts. The owner kept the original wheel as a memento – so cool.
Following the rebuild, the BMW V12 engine was even dyno-tested to make sure it produced figures befitting an F1.
Other parts were also sent back to their original suppliers for refurbishment and rebuild. The dampers went back to Bilstein while the driveshafts and hubs were also refreshed by their original supplier.
The result, after those 18 months, and 3,000 man-hours, is a near good-as-new McLaren F1, track-proven and complete with a certificate of authenticity and history file. The owner even got a scale model created from a laser scan of the car.
MSO’s certified program is pretty well the closest thing anyone will get to experiencing taking delivery of a brand new McLaren F1. The catch is that you have to own one to send in for a restoration in the first place…
“Just 12 months ago we announced the MSO McLaren F1 Heritage programme with the unveiling of F1 25R, resplendent in Gulf Racing Colours”, said Ansar Ali, Managing Director, McLaren Special Operations.
“Following an extensive restoration, which was very much a labour of love for our team, it’s an honour to now display chassis 63 at the Hampton Court Concours d’Elegance.
“With the work the team has carried out, this car will continue to fulfil the original brief for the McLaren F1; to create the world’s finest road car.”
McLaren’s Speedtail, the long-awaited hyper GT currently in development, is still some way from the clutches of its lucky owners. However, it has been named ‘Best in Show’ at an event in France – the Concours d’Elegance at Chantilly Arts & Elegance.
This is a previously unseen example of the Ultimate Series grand tourer. Presented in a Saragon Quartz body with an Oxblood aniline leather and nubuck interior, it’s subtle but stylish.
It’s intended to showcase the bespoke luxury materials and finishes available on the Speedtail.
It wowed the crowds, winning ‘Best of Show’ 2019 in the Concours d’Elegance. Grand touring was a bit of a theme for McLaren at the event, with the Speedtail joined by its junior sibling, the McLaren GT.
As a reminder, the McLaren Speedtail is the marque’s fastest car to date, with a top speed of over 250mph. It does so with the power of a petrol hybrid powertrain with over 1,000hp.
Famously, it joins the F1 in being able to bring two other passengers along for the ride. Yes, the classic central-driving three-seat layout is back. Just 106 examples of the Speedtail are set for production, with each one reportedly spoken for.
“To have the McLaren Speedtail recognised as ‘best of the show’ by the judges of the Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille is a great honour for us,” said David Gilbert, managing director Europe, McLaren Automotive.
“The McLaren design team is always brave in its approach. Receiving this award for the stunning design, craftsmanship and innovation is a fantastic reward to the team back in Woking.”
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