We’d been on the road for hours. Hours in which I thought I’d come to know and understand the extraordinary, £2.1 million McLaren Speedtail. And if it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, that was just fine. It’s always good to have an element of the unexpected, even with a prospect as interesting as this. I knew it was fast, fast in a way perhaps no other road car has ever been. And fascinating, too, for its engineering, design and significance.
But then – and forgive this very necessary opacity – I found myself able to open it up in a way that had hitherto not been possible. That was when I discovered the Speedtail had been toying with me all day. After 30-something years of testing road cars, here was an entirely new experience. Turns out I didn’t know it at all.
That’s strange, because it’s not as if someone with a decent level of knowledge and experience shouldn’t be able to take an educated guess. This wasn’t like when, 26 years ago, we first drove the McLaren F1 – a car not only designed like none that had existed before and with performance to boot, but also one that shared no significant part with any other car.
The Speedtail has a carbonfibre tub, a mid-engined configuration, a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and rear-wheel drive so, in such crucial regards, is no different to any other McLaren of the past 10 years. Yes, it has a hybrid powertrain, but so did the P1 back in 2013.