New £1.65m McLaren BP23: 720S Mule Spotted Testing Hypercar\'s Centre Seat Layout

 Next-gen McLaren hypercar details uncovered

 Hybrid assistance, F1-eclipsing top speed

► The challenge is finding somewhere to vMax it

Top end hybrid power will propel McLaren’s 2020 Ultimate Series car to in excess of 243mph, the supercar-maker has revealed. That means the three-seat hyper-GT, codenamed BP23, will become the fastest car in McLaren’s history – and the world’s fastest hybrid.


But BP23 is not gunning for the mantle of the world’s fastest production car, set by the 268mph Bugatti Veyron SuperSport and ratified by Guinness World Records, though subsequently eclipsed in unofficial runs by Hennessey and Köenigsegg supercars. ‘We could set one but a week later the Chiron or a Köenigsegg could beat it,’ Andy Palmer, McLaren’s Ultimate Series vehicle line director tells CAR. ‘But this car will be faster than the McLaren F1.’

McLaren sees BP23 as being unique in other ways. ‘Owners will be able to carry a lot of luggage, two passengers, and get from A to B incredibly quickly in the height of luxury and using innovative technology,’ says Palmer.

The drivetrain will mate an uprated version of the twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 – already summoning 814bhp for the Senna GTR track monster – with electric assistance. ‘[The V8] will have a lot more power,’ promises the Ultimate Series boss. ‘And we’re doing something very different to the P1 from a hybrid perspective. That car’s hybrid tech wasn’t about lapping the M25 in electric mode, but filling in the low-down turbo lag we needed to address in 2012.’ So could the hybrid system be tuned to deliver mid- to top-end power and pace? ‘Could be…’ teases Palmer.

Low drag will also play a crucial role in propelling the hypercar to its maximum speed: official sketches reveal the teardrop silhouette and aerodynamic long tail. ‘The [track-focused] Senna is brutal; BP23 is very smooth, with flowing lines like it’s been sculpted,’ says Palmer.


The high speed-target throws up logistical issues for the engineering team, such as where to test. The Bugatti (and McLaren F1) achieved v-max at Volkswagen Group’s Ehra-Lessien test track complete with its 5.4-mile straight – the track is probably off limits to McLaren these days. Palmer has considered using the uncontrolled conditions of the Silver State Classic road race or the Bonneville Salt Flats, but the latter’s reduced friction levels compared with tarmac do not provide a representative test bed. And given the tyres will be near the limit of their performance, that’s a critical issue.

BP23 will have adaptive dampers, to provide a ride spectrum from comfortable cruise to track capable, and to enable the body to be lowered for high speed runs. ‘But with that comes a degradation in comfort. I’m pushing the engineers to deliver both comfort and speed.’

The final BP23 will use an overhauled version of the 720S’s carbonfibre Monocage tub, revised to accommodate the central driving position. McLaren has been developing the cockpit’s bespoke ergonomics for months, including controls relocated either side of the driver and screens relaying the view along the wings from side-mounted cameras.


‘The car is very exciting to drive,’ says Palmer. ‘Sitting in the middle gives you something very different: great visibility and an appreciation of what’s going on all around you.’

The project director is confident that the rearwards view will be relayed by cameras, by meeting the requirements of UN vehicle regulation ECE 46. Its instructions are two-fold: that the screens can’t be turned off, and that the cameras relay the same field of view as mirrors’. The bigger challenge is finding how to mount the side cameras to deliver the requisite broad view – McLaren is reluctant to mount them on stalks, with its aerodynamic implications, as that would negate the advantage over using side mirrors.

The finished BP23 will be christened with a word, rather than McLaren’s numeric-alpha formula used for the 720S and 570GT. Perhaps the McLaren McLaren, or the McLaren Bruce? Or simply The Ron? Regardless, build of the £1.65m (+ taxes) hyper-GT is scheduled for late 2019/early 2020. The 106 lucky customers will be counting the days…

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New £1.65m McLaren BP23: 720S mule spotted testing hypercar's centre-seat layout