McLaren launches Albert, the first Speedtail test mule

McLaren launches Albert, the first Speedtail test mule

Announcement breaks with automaking tradition in several ways

Most automakers keep their future products under wraps, but perhaps because all 106 of the McLaren Speedtail models already are under contract, the British supercar maker not only has sent out photos of the test “mules,” but revealed that they’re being launched on a year-long schedule to validate the cars before the start of production.

The first tests will be done on closed tracks, but sometime in December, McLaren says you might see the cars on public roads in North America, Europe or Africa.

The first of the prototypes to venture out for testing is named “Albert,” in honor of the first test version of the 1992 McLaren F1 and of Albert Drive, Woking, where the F1 was designed. Like the F1, the Speedtail is a three-seater with the driver in the middle.

‘Albert’ carries Speedtail bodywork, engine and technology from A pillars back

In another break from typical OEM practice, McLaren has shared its code-name for the Speedtail program, explaining that MYVO comes from MV, McLaren’s vehicle development initials, and YO, letters that indicate the lateral central point on the XYZ axis in computer-aided design.

Albert’s official name is MVYO2-BP23 (the BG23 from McLaren’s original project code for what would become the Speedtail vehicle).

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“The start of real-world testing represents a major step in the development of the McLaren Speedtail,” said Bob Gulliver, McLaren’s head of vehicle development. “As the first fully representative prototype, ‘Albert’ will build on the invaluable work still being put in by earlier development cars, allowing us to sign-off vehicle attributes including chassis dynamics; brake performance; damper tuning; tyres; NVH and aspects of ergonomics and comfort. 

“With a huge amount achieved already, the McLaren Speedtail is well on the way to fulfilling its destiny as the greatest McLaren road car ever.”

And in yet another break with tradition, Albert won’t be wearing camouflage to hide its design, which is basically that of the Speedtail aft of the A-pillars.

“‘Albert’ is fundamentally a Speedtail, with shape-representative body panels and dihedral doors around the unique carbon fibre McLaren Monocage core structure,” the company said. “The production-level specification allows Speedtail attributes to be proven in real-world conditions early in the development process, including for example ingress and egress to the three-seat cockpit.

“Distinguished by a unique testing livery, ‘Albert’ has a production-specification chassis and petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain, as well as the unique three-seat cockpit with central driving position. 

“As the development and validation programme progresses every aspect of the Speedtail’s performance will be honed as the full 1,050PS available to Speedtail drivers to propel the prototype to 403km/h (250mph) is used – including in high-speed trials with McLaren Automotive chief Ttst driver and former IndyCar champion Kenny Bräck at the wheel.”

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The first customer deliveries of the £1.75 million ($2.27 million) vehicle are scheduled for early in 2020.

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