McLaren unveils the track-only Solus GT, a single-seater with a jet fighter canopy and a screaming V10 engine

Targeting a 2.5-second 0-62mph time

McLaren has taken the covers off the Solus GT, a new single-seat track special with its design based on that of the wild 2017 Ultimate Vision concept from the Gran Turismo Sport video game.

Unveiled at Monterey Car Week in California, the Solus GT, McLaren claims, is a distillation of everything the firm has learned over the years in developing its racing and high-performance road cars, something partially evidenced by the Solus’ extremely favourable power-to-weight ratio.

McLaren Solus GT

Powered by a “unique” mid-mounted naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10 engine that can rev to more than 10,000rpm, the Solus will, McLaren says, develop in excess of 829bhp and 479lb ft of torque, which should result in blistering performance thanks to the Solus’ mass of less than a ton.

The Solus’ low weight is mostly as a result of McLaren’s signature carbon-fibre monocoque and carbon-fibre bodywork. Also aiding weight-saving, however, is the fact that for the first time on a McLaren that isn’t a racing car, the engine and straight-cut gearbox form a stressed part of the chassis, negating the need for any additional bracing or subframes behind the carbon-fibre monocoque tub.

That engine features a gear-driven camshaft and ancillaries with no belts or chains to be found anywhere in order to reduce the risk of something slipping and going very expensively wrong when the car is being driven in a high-performance setting.

Because the Solus is still in its testing phase, the company hasn’t yet released any definitive performance figures, but says that it is targeting a 0-62mph sprint time of 2.5 seconds and a top speed of more than 200mph.

The Solus, the firm believes “is capable of the fastest lap times of any McLaren outside of single-seater racing and delivers a driving experience close to the engagement and sensation of driving a Formula 1 car.”

McLaren Solus GT

The car’s Batmobile-like exterior is, with the possible exception of some of its F1 concept cars, unlike anything McLaren has revealed before, and one of its stand-out features is the canopy like that on a fighter jet that slides forward to permit the driver access to the cockpit.

A motorsport-inspired air intake above the cockpit integrated into the design of the roll hoop cover feeds cold air into the engine, as well as amplifying the induction sound. The hoop is also home to the wide-angle, rear-facing camera that streams a live feed into the cockpit, so the driver knows what’s behind them in the absence of a rear-view mirror.

While a powerful engine and low weight are among the keys to the Solus’ potential potency on track, another major element comes in the attention paid to the car’s aerodynamics.

The wheels, for instance, are shrouded in aerodynamic pods. A large front splitter feeds air into ground-effect tunnels before it exits the car via a full diffuser. McLaren says that the weight of downforce brought to bear on the Solus is, at around 1,200kg, heavier than that of the car itself.

McLaren Solus GT

Because the Solus won’t be road-legal, McLaren is offering buyers what it describes as the full “racing driver experience” to give owners the opportunity to actually tap into their Solus’ performance on the rare occasions that the cars leave their garages.

This includes a driving seat moulded to the driver’s individual body shape, along with an FIA-homologated race suit, helmet and HANS head restraint designed for each owner and radio-enabled ear inserts. A full driver-development coaching programme will also be available.

McLaren Solus GT

Solus track days are apparently planned by the company, and all cars will be delivered with a package including a comprehensive set of tools, vehicle jacks, stands, radio sets and a coolant pre-heater to allow owners to support their own on-track activities.

McLaren plans to build just 25 examples of the Solus GT with first deliveries beginning in 2023. Unsurprisingly, all have already been sold at an undisclosed price.

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