From fantasy to reality | McLaren Solus GT Revealed

Aug 22, 2022

25 customers to experience track-only realisation of Gran Turismo Sport McLaren

A naturally-aspirated 618kW 5.2-litre V10 engine and 1200kg of downforce headline the single seat Solus GT which started life as a virtual car in the Gran Turismo Sport video game.

Unveiled during Monterey Car Week in California by Michael Leiters, McLaren Automotive Chief Executive Officer, The Solus GT draws on the full range of McLaren’s experience and expertise across the highest levels of motorsport and supercar and hypercar development.

At less than 1,000kg in weight and with aerodynamic performance including downforce in excess of 1,200kg, the Solus GT – which is powered by a naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 engine – 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.

“The McLaren Solus GT is the realisation of a radical McLaren concept vehicle originally created for the world of virtual racing. Engineered free of any restrictions from road or race regulations, but with the full spectrum of McLaren’s expertise to bring it to reality, it epitomises our pioneering spirit.” - Michael Leiters, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive

The striking exterior design, which is remarkably faithful to its virtual inspiration, is based on proven aerodynamic principles and McLaren’s ‘everything for a reason’ design ethos, honed by additional CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and wind-tunnel aerodynamic research.

The list of distinctive external features is lengthy, with the sliding canopy above the single, central seat being one of the most striking. The wheels are shrouded in aerodynamic pods and located by suspension arms. A large front splitter feeds air into ground-effect tunnels before it exits the car via a full diffuser. A motorsport-inspired intake above the cockpit integrated into the design of the roll hoop cover feeds cold air into the engine, while also providing an engaging induction sound. Race car design also inspired the sidepods which house the Solus GT’s radiators.

A twin-element, fixed rear wing is key to a downforce figure that exceeds the overall weight of the car. The downforce to drag ratio is also optimised, aiding straight-line performance as well as enhancing cornering abilities.

The seat position is fixed – the 25 Solus GT owners experience their own motorsport-style ‘seat fitting’ – with the pedal box adjustable as in a race car, although with the convenience of a remote system operated from the seating position.

To further enhance the exhilaration for Solus GT customers, McLaren is offering a full ‘racing driver experience’. This includes a driving seat moulded to the driver’s individual body shape; an FIA-homologated race suit, helmet and HANS device bespoke to each owner, and radio-enabled ear inserts. A full driver-development coaching programme will also be available to help customers fully exploit the potential of their new track hypercar.

The steering wheel – the design of which is unique among McLaren production cars – takes its inspiration from Formula 1, with dash display and essential controls integrated to suit the tight confines of a single-seater track car. Beyond the steering wheel is a view through the glass ‘bubble’, with integrated halo-style cockpit protection – mounted to which is a rear-view display fed by a wide-angle camera placed within the roll hoop. The perfectly symmetrical 180-degree line of sight provided by the central driving position is further aided by the dramatically styled wheel pods in helping the driver to position the car on a track.

The Solus GT is powered by a unique 5.2-litre V10, constructed using low-volume, machined components, that revs to more than 10,000rpm and delivers extreme performance and thrilling driver engagement. The engine’s responsiveness is enhanced by the use of barrel-driven throttles for each cylinder – a system only suitable for track application – and is entirely gear-driven, with no chains or belts for camshaft or ancillary systems.

In common with every McLaren since 1981, the Solus GT is based around a carbon-fibre monocoque, in this case one created using specialist low-volume production methods including a carbon ‘pre-preg’ process for higher structural strength and a high uniformity of finish to the material. The front and rear chassis structures are also made from carbon fibre, with the engine and gearbox forming the rest of the chassis.

Traditional performance metrics are not as relevant for a track car, but with a target time of 2.5 seconds for 0-100km/h acceleration and a maximum speed of more than 200mph – in combination with the car’s light weight and strong aerodynamic abilities – the McLaren Solus GT has the performance credentials needed for an extreme track machine.

The McLaren Solus GT is currently at the track-testing stage of its development process. The first of 25 customer cars – all of which are sold – will be delivered in 2023.