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McLaren’s new $3.6 million hypercar is based on a video game

The single-seater Solus GT is like a jet on wheels and a real-life version of a McLaren Vision concept car featured in the Gran Turismo Sport video game

The Solus GT is a world-first, track-only realisation of McLaren concept that debuted in the virtual gaming world.
The Solus GT is a world-first, track-only realisation of McLaren concept that debuted in the virtual gaming world. (McLaren)

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McLaren is turning fantasy into fact.

The McLaren Solus GT is the real-life version of a McLaren Vision concept car that was featured in the Gran Turismo Sport video game. Legal to drive only on a track, the Solus GT debuted on 19 August at the Quail car show during Monterey car week in Carmel, Calif.

Started in 2013, the vision concept component of the popular video game features futuristic but fictional cars from the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Lamborghini. Many production vehicles from Bugatti and Porsche are often featured in other video games such asCSR Racing and Forza. But the McLaren Vision GT that debuted in 2017 is the first from the brand to go from game to garage.

“It keeps the original concept of the Vision car, but this is a lot more sophisticated now: a very clean, good design,” says Kazunori Yamauchi, chief executive officer of Polyphony Digital, which created Gran Turismo. Yamauchi, onsite during a media preview on Aug. 18. notesthat the progression from virtual reality to real life complements the consumer progression formany gamers.

“Many Gran Turismo players ultimately become loyal customers of sports cars,” he says. “When a player falls in love with cars, about 20 years down the linethey are able to buy that car. In the supercar world, there is a genre of customers who is actually a Gran Turismo customer.”

Despite having thename GT,which can sometimes stand for “grand touring,”the Solus GT is primed for anything but a casual cruise. Its naturally aspirated V10 engine gets 829bhp (840hp)and promises a zero-to-60 mph sprint time of less than 2.5 seconds. Top speed is 200 mph.

Owners who are especially keen to live out their Formula One fantasies can purchase an FIA-homologated race suit, a helmet, a bespokeHead and Neck Support (HANS)device,and a driver-development coaching program. The neck support is particularlyimportant, says Bruno Senna, the professional racing driver who has driven the Solus GT prototypes for testing purposes. (Senna’s uncle, Aryton, spent much of his career racing with McLaren’s Formula One team and has a $1 million model named after him.)

Driving the Solus GT is “a whole different planet” compared to driving other high-powered McLarens such as Senna, he says. “This is the closest you can get to a top-end race car,” he said. “It’s friendly to drivebut—definitely for the people who buy it—they will need acoach.”

The performance alone is sure to thrill anyone sitting in the car’s single seat. Just getting into and out of the vehicle will be an event. Its spring-loaded canopy top slides open with the press of a mechanical lever; the roof then moves across a slight arc, lifting clear of the cockpit and sliding forward to allow easy access to the drivers seat. Once inside, the driver can access the ignition switch—and a fully integrated fire extinguisher—on the ceiling of the vehicle.

Like every McLaren made since 1981, the Solus GT uses a carbon-fiber monocoque body; the front and rear chassis structures, and even the steering wheel, are alsomade from carbon fiber. But in a new first for the Woking, England-based company, McLaren used 3D-printed titanium components comprising the halo cockpit-protection structure and roll hoop. All the carbon fiber and titanium help the car achieve a featherweight of just over 1 ton, or 2,205 pounds.McLaren will make just 25 of the Solus GT, which—unlike the exclusive-to-the-USMcLaren Sabre—is being sold globally. Pricing starts at £3 million ($3.6 million). Deliveries will start in 2023.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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