Some 25 of McLaren’s most dedicated and well-heeled customers have splashed out £3million on its latest ultra-exclusive hypercar unveiled over the weekend – but kids have been driving it in their bedrooms for five years.
The Solus GT is the British brand’s new track-only model that is claimed to reach speeds in excess of 200mph and lap a circuit faster than any other McLaren sold to customers.
And owners might be able to get some pointers on how to set the fastest times by speaking to computer game fans of all ages, because the car originally debuted in virtual form in the 2017 computer game Gran Turismo Sport.
The video-game hypercar that’s become a £3million reality: McClaren had a surprise new-model unveiling over the weekend. It’s called the Solus GT and is based on the concept it created for the Gran Turismo computer game in 2017
McLaren says the arrival of the Solus GT – formerly known as the ‘Vision Gran Turismo’ – is the ‘stunning realisation of a concept car from the screens of virtual racing into an extreme expression of track driving engagement that will exhilarate in the real world’.
It’s a sales pitch that appears to have worked on its most enthusiastic customers, with buyers already putting their name down for all 25 examples the company is going to make.
It won’t be road legal, making this a very expensive toy for the super-rich.
Reading the spec sheet, it’s easy to understand why this is a vehicle deemed too hot for UK roads.
It is powered by a naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10 engine that revs beyond 10,000rpm and develops 840bhp with a wailing soundtrack that can be heard in its ear-splitting glory in the promotional video of it being trashed around the Jerez circuit in Spain while cloaked in a camouflage wrap.
McLaren says the new Solus GT is a ‘stunning realisation of a concept car from the screens of virtual racing into an extreme expression of track driving engagement that will exhilarate in the real world’
Just 25 examples will be produced and all have already been promised to the most enthusiastic of McLaren customers
From a standing start, it should hit 62mph in just 2.5 seconds and its top speed is in excess of 200mph.
McLaren says the 25 customer cars will weigh under 1,000kg – so less than a tiny city car – and its aerodynamic package has been honed in the company’s wind tunnel and is said to generate in excess of 1,200kg of downforce.
The single-seater has an enclosed fighter-jet style cockpit, with the roof canopy sliding forwards to allow access and then slots into position once the driver is seated.
There is just one seat and no doors – instead, the driver has to enter and exit but climbing into cockpit after sliding the jet fighter-style canopy forwards
McLaren’s Solus GT is powered by a naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10 engine that revs beyond 10,000rpm and develops 840bhp. It can hit 62mph from a standing start in 2.5 seconds and has a top speed in excess of 200mph
It made its surprise public debut during Monterey Car Week in California.
‘The McLaren Solus GT is the realisation of a radical McLaren concept vehicle originally created for the world of virtual racing,’ said McLaren’s CEO, Michael Leiters, at its official unveiling.
‘Engineered free of any restrictions from road or race regulations, but with the full spectrum of McLaren’s expertise to bring it to reality, it epitomises our pioneering spirit.’
The extreme design is very close to the computer-generated concept that debuted in the popular video game five years ago.
Looking down from above at the car, it’s a heavily chiselled shape that’s dictated by the angular aero pods on each of the four wheels that are there to reduce turbulent airflow and cover the double-wishbone suspension arms
The profile is sculpted like the body of a Formula One machine and behind the sliding canopy is a letterbox-style intake that feeds cool air into the engine bay to modulate the temperature of the 10-cylinder powerplant
At the back is this full-width dual-element fixed wing, which – working with the massive rear diffuser – boosts downforce in a bid for the ultimate lap time
Looking down from above at the car, it’s a heavily chiselled shape that’s dictated by the angular aero pods on each of the four wheels that are there to reduce turbulent airflow and cover the double-wishbone suspension arms.
At the front is an extended front splitter that’s certainly not designed to take on a string of speed humps on a 20mph residential street.
Instead, it acts to feed air underneath the car and through diffuser tunnels to essentially suck the body of the car into the tarmac for maximum cornering grip.
The profile is sculpted like the body of a Formula One machine and behind the sliding canopy is a letterbox-style intake that feeds cool air into the engine bay to modulate the temperature of the 10-cylinder powerplant.
At the back is a full-width dual-element fixed wing, which – working with the massive rear diffuser – also boosts downforce in a bid for the ultimate lap time.
The Solus GT is also the first for any McLaren production car that’s engine serves as a stressed member of the carbon fibre chassis, with the V10 motor and seven-speed sequential gearbox a structural element in the vehicle.
Many of the parts are made from exotic lightweight materials using the latest hi-tech manufacturing processes.
For instance, the protective rollover hoop and ‘halo’ structure are crafted from 3D-printed titanium and the locking wheel nuts are forged aluminium.
The featherweight 18-inch wheels are available with full-slick of wet-weather racing tyres and the brakes are full carbon discs and pads.
Inside, the cockpit is as sparse as a fully-fledged racing car. However, the pedal box is adjustable so the driver can get supremely comfortable, and the steering wheel is more advanced than you’d find in an F1 machine, featuring a myriad of control switches surrounding a digital screen that displays all the information you could want while careering around a race track.
From virtual to reality: The Solus GT is based on this, the ‘Vision Gran Turismo’, which was created especially for the 2017 game, Gran Turismo Sport
Customers will receive a full development coaching programme so they can exploit the potential of their new hypercars – and it will be a race-licence holder rather than a 15-year-old with a PlayStation controller offering the training
The £3million asking price doesn’t just get you the car – it also pays towards a ‘full racing driver experience’, McLaren says.
This includes a driving seat moulded to the owner’s individual body shape – no matter how slight or rotund they might be.
The package also offers an FIA-homologated race suit, helmet, neck-protecting restraint and earphones that double as noise-cancelling buds but also provide radio communication back to the pits. Buyers will also be provided with a coolant pre-heater to prep their vehicles before taking them out on track.
Customers will get a full driver-development coaching programme so they can exploit the potential of their new hypercars – and it will be a race-licence holder rather than a 15-year-old with a PlayStation controller offering the training.
One might be coming to a trackday near you soon; the first of the 25 customer cars will be delivered in 2023, McLaren confirmed.