McLaren makes its Vision Gran Turismo car a reality, complete with a 10,000rpm, naturally aspirated engine
By Matt Bird / Friday, 19 August 2022 / Loading comments
Oh great, you’re thinking, another McLaren special – bring on the twin-turbo V8, MonoCage II and vaguely familiar styling. Not this time, though. This is the McLaren Solus GT, a limited-production realisation of the Ultimate Vision Gran Turismo from 2017. Back then it looked like something from another planet, and therefore perfect for the virtual world – now 25 people are going to experience an awe inspiring reality.
We must begin with the engine. Seemingly with a target firmly set on the V12s used in the Ferrari, Gordon Murray and Aston Martin hypercars, McLaren has ditched the venerable V8 – and replaced it with a 5.2 V10. Yep, the naturally aspirated McLaren is back. Not just any old V10, either, if such a thing can exist. Producing more than 840hp and revving beyond 10,000rpm, McLaren estimates the new engine will be good for 0-62mph in 2.5 seconds and more than 200mph. Plus, presumably, while providing a noise to die for. Which nobody has said about a McLaren for 30 years. It’s described as a motorsport-derived, McLaren-specific engine, with crank, intake and exhaust all bespoke to this car. There are no chains or belts at all, with everything gear driven, and barrel driven throttles for each cylinder set to deliver sharper throttle response.
And the engine really is just the start as far as this astonishing car goes. Naturally, the Solus GT is made from carbon fibre, but further advanced over even the most extreme McLaren road cars. For the first time in one of its creations, McLaren has both the engine and the LMP-spec, straight-cut, seven-speed, sequential gearbox as stressed chassis members – who cares about vibrations in a track car, this way is lighter. Plus carbon is used for both front and rear crash structures where they’re usually aluminium. The rear suspension is hung off the aluminium cased, magnesium panelled gearbox, which is pretty cool. Its pre-preg carbon used in the chassis, moreover, for even greater structural toughness. McLaren says the Solus GT will weigh less than a tonne yet develop more than 1,200kg of downforce.
That’s no great surprise looking at it, though. And you thought the GT3 RS was the wildest track car we’d see this week! When McLaren describes the list of external features as ‘lengthy’, you know there’s going to be a lot to discuss. There’s an actual canopy, for starters, making ingress and egress like no other car – McLaren likens it more to stepping into a jet fighter, and for once that doesn’t seem too far from the truth. Note as well the giant front splitter and rear diffuser combo, and wheels shrouded in aero-optimised pods, just like the Vision GT car, which calm turbulent air. The rear wing is fixed, though McLaren believes the ratio between downforce and drag has been ‘optimised’ with CFD development and time in the wind tunnel, so drivers will get both otherworldly aero grip and outrageous speed – the best of both worlds. The sidepods are peak race car, housing the radiators to keep everything cool while also reducing the frontal area. Finally, and quite modestly, that big ram air intake above the canopy is said to provide a ‘pleasingly engaging’ induction sound. You don’t say. Perhaps the T.50 won’t be the best-sounding, super-duper hypercar out there…
The inside is just as spectacular, combining genuine F1 tech – the halo and roll hoop are made from 3D-printed titanium, and serve as further structural elements – with the design freedom that comes from producing just 25 cars. Each will have a driving position and moulded seat bespoke to the owner, with the pedal box adjustable by remote control. In a very un-McLaren move, the steering wheel is jam-packed with info as it’s pretty snug inside the Solus (and it means another F1 link), but this is still a familiar Woking wonder in some regards, with a focus on great visibility. No, really: ‘The perfectly symmetrical 180-degree line of sight provided by the central driving position is further aided by the dramatically styled wheel pods in helping the driver to position the car on a track.’ So there’ll be no excuse for missing an apex…
Not least with all the incredible hardware assisting the aero features. The Solus GT is underpinned by double wishbones all round and four-way adjustable torsion bar damping, with front pushrods and pullrods behind. The anti-roll bars are adjustable, and the front suspension links get carbon aero protection, again just like an F1 car. However – spotting the theme, hopefully – there’s even more to get your head around. The Solus comes with ‘ride height springs and a heave and spring damper system’. Over to McLaren for this one: ‘This is employed to provide stiffness at speed by limiting vertical movement, the effect of this is to create a more aerodynamically stable profile, making the car’s dynamic behaviour at speed more predictable and therefore increasing driver confidence on high-speed tracks.’
The brakes feature both carbon discs and carbon pads, with the bias tweakable by the driver. The clutch is also carbon (albeit with software to help with pulling away) and there’s a choice of two tyres: a slick one or a wet one, both to LMP specification. The Solus GT is for very, very serious track-going folk, though if the current glut of circuit-only monsters is anything to go by there’s no shortage of demand.
Accordingly, the 25 buyers are going to be treated like the racing drivers they would be if it didn’t pay so badly. McLaren is planning track events for the cars – what a spectacle that promises to be – though every Solus will be delivered with a flight case (!) to ‘allow owners to support their own track activities’. Which would be a heck of a way to turn up to Bedford. The case will include tools, stands, jacks, radio sets and a pre-heater for the coolant…
New McLaren CEO, Michael Leiters, said of the new car: “The McLaren Solus GT is the realisation of a radical McLaren concept vehicle originally created for the world of virtual racing. 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.” Though only now being revealed to the world, all 25 Solus GTs are spoken for (a price hasn’t been made public), with track testing underway. The first cars will be delivered in 2023.
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