McLaren is set to shift its focus from track weapons to high speed GTs with the new BP23 hypercar due this year
McLaren’s Senna GTR might have been the focus of the 2018 Geneva motor show, but its next “Ultimate Series” car will take performance extremes in another direction: top speed.
Billed as a “hyper-GT”, the three-seat BP23 will eclipse the maximum achieved by its three-seat spiritual predecessor, the 390km/h McLaren F1.
That will make it McLaren’s fastest-ever car and put it among the fastest supercars full stop, but unlike the track-focused McLaren Senna revealed last year (and whose 500-unit run is already sold out), the BP23 will be more of a grand tourer, matching huge performance with luxury
Like the Senna though, it’s already sold out – 106 cars were allocated, matching the 106 McLaren F1s originally built, at £1.6 million plus taxes (and options) apiece.
McLaren will officially unveil the BP23 later this year, but in the meantime it has released a small series of sketches illustrating some of the car’s more distinctive aspects. That includes an exterior view that illustrates the sleek, long-tail styling quite unlike that of McLaren’s current products, as well as two stylised interior views – a driver’s-eye cockpit view and a birds-eye illustration of the three-seat layout.
Development is already underway, but McLaren has yet to finalise some of the details of its no doubt much anticipated top speed run. With the VW Group-owned Ehra-Lessien out of the question – the venue where Andy Wallace achieved 391km/h, or 390km/h in the F1 – the company is searching for other possible locations, from test tracks to stretches of closed road.
Finding a driver will be equally challenging, though one likely candidate is Swedish racer Kenny Brack, who serves as one of McLaren’s development drivers and who set a 6:43.2s lap at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in a McLaren P1 LM. With well over a quarter-century of technological improvements, any top-speed run will likely be less fraught than Wallace’s run in 1998 – something he described later as giving him “seriously sweaty palms”.
The three-seat layout and luxury focus of BP23 will make it heavier than its Ultimate Series stablemate, which weighs in at 1198kg dry, though with an “optimised” engine and a powerful hybrid drivetrain a power output approaching or exceeding 745kW is likely to help it punch to that 390km/h-plus top speed.
And the name? With Ultimate Series cars now getting proper names rather than alphanumeric combinations like their Sport and Super series counterparts, expect it to feature a significant moniker from the company’s history.
McLaren played down our suggestion that “Lauda” might be used – on the basis that unlike the Senna, BP23 has more of a road bias. That would also rule out names such as Prost, Hakkinen, Fittipaldi and Hunt, but perhaps not other names associated with the firm’s history. McLaren Tasman, anyone? The guessing begins here…