McLaren Solus GT leaps from videogame fantasy into production reality
You, along with millions of others, may already have driven this supercar in its original, virtual form as part of the Gran Turismo video game series. Now, it's coming to life in the flesh, as a sold-out limited edition with a screaming V10 engine.
In the video game, it's called the McLaren Ultimate Vision Gran Turismo, or VGT, and you can zoom it around the game's many tracks alongside a bevvy of other fantastical VGT concepts from more than 25 other manufacturers. These came about when Gran Turismo founder Kazunori Yamauch threw out a design challenge to automakers asking for "the ideal GT."
Some of these cars went way out there, like the low-slung, spindly Chevrolet Chapparal 2X VGT. Other manufacturers used the VGT series as a way to sneakily preview upcoming cars – notably, the Bugatti Chiron, which appeared as the Bugatti VGT in September 2015, but wasn't unveiled in production form until March 2016.
The McLaren VGT first popped up in-game five years ago, and the company is adamant that this machine was originally created for virtual racing. Either way, it's now a real thing, with most of the VGTs remarkable characteristics making their way through to the production Solus GT.
It's a track-only single-seat machine, with a wicked single-seat jetfighter cockpit and no doors; instead, the windshield and canopy slide forward to let the driver climb in. As with the VGT, the Solus runs front wheels extending out on strut suspension, covered by shapely pods with all manner of carbon aero touches sticking out.
Indeed, the aerodynamics on display here take things to the extreme. The underbody diffuser channels are so big that local youths are likely to get in there and graffiti them. The splitters at the front look particularly savage, and the wavy rear spoiler looks like it'd glide off into the sunset if you angled it up and released it from its moorings at speed. McLaren says it's a proper upside-downer, making more than 1,200 kg (2,646 lb) of downforce at speed and weighing less than 1,000 kg (2,205 lb) thanks to a carbon-heavy construction that includes the monocoque frame.
The engine is a howler: a naturally-aspirated 5.2-liter V10 revving over 10,000 rpm. McLaren says it's "unique," and that its "crank, capacity, air intake and exhaust system are all bespoke," hinting that this thing has been developed from a former race engine. Each cylinder has its own barrel throttle, and the camshafts and all ancillary systems are gear-driven to take belts and chains out of the equation.
Peak power is over 830 hp, with more than 650 Nm (480 lb-ft) of torque to boot. A few hundred ponies less than the video game version, but on the other hand, it actually exists. Through a new seven-speed sequential automatic gearbox, the motor can put down enough power for a projected 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) sprint time around 2.5 seconds, on the way to a top speed over 200 mph (322 km/h). The engine sound is absolutely hair-raising.
McLaren is making 25 of these things, all of which were sold for multi-million-dollar prices before the car was even announced. The lucky buyers will get what the company calls a "racing driver experience," including an FIA-homologated race suit, a driver development and coaching course, and both the head and neck support and the seat shaped to their personal anatomies.
Funnily enough, that racing driver experience won't actually include any racing. McLaren threw regulations to the wind when building this thing, and it won't qualify for actual racing, no matter how racy and extreme it looks and feels. McLaren will throw in a few consolation racetrack events where owners can get together and commiserate, once the cars are all in their hot little hands.
See it rip up some racetrack in the video below, and check out a bunch more photos in the gallery.