Cosworth-designed three-cylinder test engine shows the T50 will have the highest power density of any road-going, naturally aspirated V12
Steve Cropley Autocar
23 March 2020

Gordon Murray Automotive, which is set to unveil its new T50 hypercar in May, has released a video that shows a three-cylinder test version of the hypercar's V12 motor revving to 12,100rpm. 

Developed by British engineering firm Cosworth, the normally aspirated 3.9-litre V12 produces around 650bhp and 332lb ft. Its 12,400rpm 'hard limit' makes it the highest revving road car engine ever built. For reference, the Aston Martin Valkyrie's V12 motor, also developed by Cosworth, tops out at 10,500rpm. 

Watch the video here

The £2.3 million ‘analogue’ hypercar, to be built at Murray’s new Dunsfold factory, will move immediately after launch into a prototype build and development phase, before production build-up begins during 2021.

 

 

The first of the planned 125 cars – 100 road cars and 25 purely for the track – will reach its new owner at the beginning of 2022 and production will continue for a year.

The mid-engined T50’s all-important aerodynamics package is being developed with the assistance of the Silverstone-based Racing Point Formula 1 team, formerly Force India. Access to the team’s moving-floor wind tunnel, plus the expertise of its F1-trained technicians, will allow Murray to use large-scale models to refine the T50’s revolutionary active aero package.

Our Verdict

McLaren F1 1992-1998

In 1994 Autocar road tested the fastest and most extreme road car ever built. Here is the definitive verdict on the McLaren F1

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

A three-seater with a central driving position, the car combines the unique qualities of Murray’s two most iconic creations in a stellar 50-year, 50-car career: the seminal, ultra-light McLaren F1 three-seat supercar of 1992 and the Brabham BT46B grand prix ‘fan car’ of 1978, whose extraordinary levels of downforce briefly stood F1 on its head and took one race win before the team withdrew it in the face of opposition from rivals.

The new T50’s most striking feature is a 400mm rear-mounted electric fan, designed to extract air rapidly from beneath the car, radically increasing downforce and grip. The aero set-up can be configured in six different modes, two of them automatic, the rest driver selectable. They vary from the super-slippery Streamline mode to the High Downforce setting, for use when exceptional stability and traction are needed.

The first details of the T50 emerged last summer, when it became clear that it would use much of the packaging and technology of the F1, simply because, in Murray’s view, there isn’t a better way of doing it. The car has an all-new carbonfibre tub 

At the front of the engine, a 48V integrated starter/ generator connects directly with the crankshaft. It acts as a starter motor, then converts to a generator to produce the power needed to spin the lightweight fan at speeds of up to 8000rpm.

The V12 is mounted very low in the T50’s all-carbonfibre tub, driving the rear wheels through a six-speed H-pattern manual gearbox built by Xtrac. Murray says most buyers are “relieved” by the presence of a proper stick shift, but he directs those who prefer paddles to the 25 late-build track cars, which will probably use them.

In another nod to traditional driving, the T50 avoids hybrid technology: Murray says it would increase kerb weight far beyond the current figure of just 980kg, with many knock-on disadvantages. He wants the T50 to be seen as the spiritual successor to the F1 in its lightness, compactness and space efficiency, with those properties all enhanced by the use of modern materials and techniques.

The T50 is just 30mm wider and 60mm longer than the F1, having about the same road footprint as a Volkswagen Golf. “No one else makes supercars our way,” said Murray. “I’m happy about that.”

The car needs very little obvious upper-body aerodynamic addenda, allowing for a purer front-end shape. Although the frontal styling has yet to be revealed, Murray says its relationship to the F1 will be clear.

Downforce is generated either by an active tail spoiler or via a large venturi beneath the body, a system of slots and ducts with the 400mm fan at its rearmost extremity. The feed of underbody airflow can be varied by the opening or closing of slots ahead of it.

The T50’s two automatic aero modes are Auto (which optimises use of the fan, the rear spoiler and the underbody diffusers) and Brake (which opens the spoilers and runs the fan at high speed, sucking the car onto the road and increasing both stability and rolling resistance).

The driver-select aero modes are High Downforce and Streamline, which cuts drag by about 10% by closing underbody vents and speeding the fan to create a ‘virtual longtail’. There’s also a Vmax mode, a kind of ‘push to pass’ setting that adds 30bhp for up to three minutes. Near the top speed, the ram effect of a roof-mounted induction air scoop (a Murray favourite) boosts power to about 700bhp. The final aero mode is Test, which allows an owner to demonstrate the functioning of the aero system when the car is stationary.

Most T50s are already sold, although there are still “a few” opportunities for buyers. Murray said he is pleasantly surprised at the comparative youth of the latest crop of buyers: 40% are under 45 and three are buying their first-ever supercar. “People tell us the McLaren F1 was their poster car when they were growing up,” said Murray. “Now that they’ve built successful businesses, T50 has become their F1. We’re very happy with that.”

Why the fan makes so much sense

Aerodynamic downforce is a great thing to have when you need it, explains Gordon Murray, and that’s principally between 60mph and 100mph, the point at which your car benefits most from greatly enhanced cornering adhesion. It would be nice to have downforce that works lower down, too, but passive aero gadgetry doesn’t provide it.

When going faster, you could often do with less aero effect. “Aerodynamic load rises as the square of speed,” Murray says, “and so does drag. Which means many cars with serious performance use up their suspension travel at high speed, which is about the last thing you need. You can reduce it with expensive, bulky variable-rate complexity, but who wants that?”

All of which, in a nutshell, makes the case for the T50’s brand of variable, fan-based downforce. The system is tunable and delivers exactly as you want it to. You can use it to help stop your car from seriously high speeds. And you can adjust it for decent stability yet good ride quality while cruising autobahns at 150mph. In short, it looks like one of those things, once explained, that every serious future fast car will need.

READ MORE

Exclusive: Gordon Murray tells Autocar about his 2022 hypercar

Gordon Murray receives CBE for 'services to motoring'

New McLaren 620R revealed as limited-run, road-legal GT4 racer

Join the debate

Comments
26

10 December 2019

This sounds amazing- exactly what I would want in a hypercar if I was ever to win the lottery. Back in the real world however, I do hope he does a follow up sports car for us mere mortals to aspire to - a light and compact, Murray designed Alpine A110 competitor for around £50k could be really quite something and would demonstrate the production capability of the iStream process. They could even partner with Magna Steyr, Valmet or similar as a JV if too much of a commitment to do alone. 

10 December 2019

IStream seems to have stopped flowing - it's all gone ominously quiet on the new TVR. It sounds like a fine idea to me but I am no engineer.

As for an affordable Murray sports car, it sounds like a great idea but the Alpine is so good and so close in philosophy that I am not sure it could be viable.

Do Caterham have regrets though? Imagine if they had developed an open top, manual gearbox version of the A110? It could have been quite some car.

 

10 December 2019

This is what you get when Engineering calls the shots and Finance are there not to limit costs but to account for them. And Marketing is nowhere to be seen. It's a model that doesn't work too well for mass manufacture, but it's the model that gives us cars to fascinate and thrill us. 

10 December 2019

Thats what the back end of a supercar should look like, iconic

10 December 2019

Seems a bit mad to use a V12 - why not use a V6 or at least a V8 ? The car would  be even lighter and nowadays we can extract more power from smaller engines compared to when the F1 came out.

10 December 2019

Using a V12 is never ever mad.

 

Is it not incredibly obvious that this car isn't about absolute power?  Thank goodness.

11 December 2019
typos1 wrote:

Seems a bit mad to use a V12 - why not use a V6 or at least a V8 ? The car would  be even lighter and nowadays we can extract more power from smaller engines compared to when the F1 came out.

There are many reasons to use a V12.

Other than a straight 6 or horizontally opposed engine, it is the only configuration to be naturally balanced in first and second degree harmonic vibrations, meaning no balancer shafts are needed. 

Turbochargers inherently cause lag, not what you want from an ultra-high performance machine.

Superchargers cause parasitic drain on the engine (meaning they use power to make power)

Hybridisation adds a huge amount of weight due to the batteries and regeneration aparatus

The packaging of an N/A V12 will most likely be easier than a turbocharged V8 or V6 due to the narrow bank angle of 60 degrees (the M838T in the P1 is a 90 degree V8) and not having to find room for the complex exhaust, turbo and intercooler arrangement needed for efficient turbo installation.

In 1993, the S70/2 6.0 V12 in the F1 weighed 250kg. The M838T weighs 199kg in a Mclaren 600LT. Given 25 years of advancement in materials, construction and design knowledge it is quite right to assume that they can make a 6.0 V12 weigh very close to that (the F140B in the Enzo weighed 225kg in 2002, producing 650hp for example)

Natural aspiration is inherently less complex due to less parts external to the block needing to be cooled and lubricated.

Natural aspiration requires large volumes of air to be in the combustion chamber to make power or for there to be many combustion events in a smaller amount of time. To get more air in, you need a larger combustion chamber which means a larger cylinder capacity. You get dimishing returns on this once you go above 500cc per cylinder. The maths points to a 6.0 V12 being perfct for this. 

Personally, I don't think there is any engine configuration that sounds as good at full chat than an N/A V12 either. Listen to the video of the Aston Valkrie engine and tell me I'm wrong! Haha

11 December 2019
typos1 wrote:

Seems a bit mad to use a V12 - why not use a V6 or at least a V8 ? The car would  be even lighter and nowadays we can extract more power from smaller engines compared to when the F1 came out.

There are many reasons to use a V12.

Other than a straight 6 or horizontally opposed engine, it is the only configuration to be naturally balanced in first and second degree harmonic vibrations, meaning no balancer shafts are needed. 

Turbochargers inherently cause lag, not what you want from an ultra-high performance machine.

Superchargers cause parasitic drain on the engine (meaning they use power to make power)

Hybridisation adds a huge amount of weight due to the batteries and regeneration aparatus

The packaging of an N/A V12 will most likely be easier than a turbocharged V8 or V6 due to the narrow bank angle of 60 degrees (the M838T in the P1 is a 90 degree V8) and not having to find room for the complex exhaust, turbo and intercooler arrangement needed for efficient turbo installation.

In 1993, the S70/2 6.0 V12 in the F1 weighed 250kg. The M838T weighs 199kg in a Mclaren 600LT. Given 25 years of advancement in materials, construction and design knowledge it is quite right to assume that they can make a 6.0 V12 weigh very close to that (the F140B in the Enzo weighed 225kg in 2002, producing 650hp for example)

Natural aspiration is inherently less complex due to less parts external to the block needing to be cooled and lubricated.

Natural aspiration requires large volumes of air to be in the combustion chamber to make power or for there to be many combustion events in a smaller amount of time. To get more air in, you need a larger combustion chamber which means a larger cylinder capacity. You get dimishing returns on this once you go above 500cc per cylinder. The maths points to a 6.0 V12 being perfct for this. 

Personally, I don't think there is any engine configuration that sounds as good at full chat than an N/A V12 either. Listen to the video of the Aston Valkrie engine and tell me I'm wrong! Haha

10 December 2019
There is a more affordable sports car planned, it's called the T43 & is planned to cost under 40k

10 December 2019
I like the sound of a manual V12, and the fan concept is intriguing, particularly its influence on other aspects of the dynamics. Who needs dsc via brakes? let the active aero manage the yaw behaviour (up to a point).

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week