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The first prototype of McLaren’s new Ultimate Series flagship, the McLaren Speedtail, officially embarks on a year-long test regime that will see it emerge as the first McLaren “Hyper-GT” car. With 1,050 PS and a 403 km/h top speed, it will be the fastest, most aerodynamic and most luxurious McLaren ever made.

The prototype is officially designated MVY02, but echoing the naming of development test mules of the legendary 1992 McLaren F1, it has been christened Albert. The name is also a reference to the Albert Drive premises in which the F1 was designed.

Distinguished by a unique testing livery, Albert has a production-spec chassis and petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain, as well as the unique three-seat cockpit with a central driving position – as pioneered by the F1.

The centre-seat layout of the Speedtail was first publicly demonstrated in a ‘proof of concept’ model that was a reconfigured McLaren 720S. Four further mules followed and these will continue to be used around the world for performance and durability testing, alongside the prototype vehicles.

Despite its test livery and the bodywork from the A-pillars forward, Albert is fundamentally a Speedtail, with shape-representative body panels and dihedral doors around the unique carbon fibre “Monocage” core structure. The production-level spec allows Speedtail attributes to be proven in real-world conditions early in the development process, including for example ingress and egress to the cockpit.

Of course, the Hyper-GT’s performance will be honed in this period, which will see high-speed trials with McLaren Automotive chief test driver and former IndyCar champion Kenny Brack at the wheel. The “punishing” test programme will see Speedtail prototypes running in Europe, North America and Africa, initially at bespoke automotive test facilities but later amongst traffic on normal roads.

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“The start of real-world testing represents a major step in the development of the McLaren Speedtail. 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,” said Ben Gulliver, head of vehicle development at McLaren Automotive.

“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,” he added.

Production of the £1.75 million (RM9.4 million) Speedtail is due to commence at the end of 2019, with first deliveries set for early 2020. As with the McLaren F1, 106 cars will be available. Like what you see and have the bank account to match? Sorry sir, all 106 units have already been allocated to future owners.