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One seat, 10 cylinders, 1,200kg of downforce: McLaren’s clean-sheet track car makes a Senna GTR seem tame

Good stuff

Unique and fantastic driving environment, outrageous V10 engine, truly approachable even for amateur drivers

Bad stuff

Lack of cupholders

Overview

What is it?

The Solus GT was nothing more than a design sketch back in 2010, which grew into the Vision GT concept seen in Gran Turismo 7 in 2017 and now is a real life, tangible track-only hypercar. There have been many changes from the virtual Vision GT to Solus GT and - from our point of view - they’re all good. The biggest and most pivotal is the switch from the familiar twin-turbocharged V8 with electric motors for the front wheels to a pure rear-driven configuration and a 5.2-litre V10 engine that revs to 10,000rpm. Just 25 GTs will be built and, of course, they’re all sold.

To say that the Judd-built V10 (the engine was a collaboration between the two companies) is central to the Solus experience would be an understatement. Not only does it produce 829bhp (or 858bhp with ram air effect at higher speeds) and enable 0-60mph in 2.5-seconds and a top speed of over 200mph, it’s also a stressed part of the chassis. So, it’s directly bolted to the carbon tub and the rear suspension is mounted to the 7spd sequential gearbox, just like, say, an F1 car.

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In fact, the Solus GT follows racecar best-practice pretty much everywhere. Suspension is by double-wishbones all round, pushrod actuated at the front and using pull rods at the rear and also featuring torsion bars. There’s also a heave damper to control vertical movement, which is critical when trying to offer some compliance but simultaneously manage high aero loads. The Solus GT weighs 935kg dry and produces 1,200kg of downforce at 150mph.

Photography: Greg Pajo

Sounds pretty intimidating?

Initially? Absolutely. To get into the Solus you have to release the canopy and slide it forward. Now step over the carbon driver cell, stand on the seat and then shuffle down into position. At this point you’ll need a mate - or one of your own private race team - to push the canopy back until it locks in position. Of course, they’ll have already pre-warmed the V10 engine for 45 minutes to make sure all the components have reached a good temperature.

So, you’re in. Placed perfectly centrally and with the most incredible view. There’s a halo type spur of carbon fibre dead ahead, but you don’t notice. Instead, it just feels incredibly airy despite wearing a helmet and HANS device. The front wheel covers provide a brilliant reference and the driving position is easily tweaked with an adjustable pedal box. The steering wheel looks like an F1 unit, only a bit glitzier to help swallow that extreme price tag.

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But from here on in it’s easy. Hold the brake, press the Start button on the wheel and wait for the V10 to catch. It’s seriously loud outside but just sounds good and exotic in here. Now pull the upshift paddle for 1st, accelerate (there is no clutch) and you’re away. Simple. It even has an auto mode. There are four power modes - Wet, Inter, Track, Race - and that top one gives all the response and the full 829bhp.

Do you need to be an F1 driver to get the most from it?

Well, that would certainly help. But the biggest surprise is how easy the Solus GT is to drive. There’s adjustable traction control and ABS for the incredible carbon-carbon brake set-up, but you don’t really lean into these systems as the car offers so much precision and feedback. Of course, the V10 has no turbos which means a gorgeous, linear delivery and no nasty spikes of torque. The Goodyear slicks from an LMP2 car also help make the car feel absolutely capable of dealing with everything the engine can throw at it.

The steering is light and ultra-accurate, the brakes are astounding and the Solus GT feels at once way too much car for a normal human and strangely intuitive. Moreover, such is the speed and performance that you feel you are extending the car and really driving it even when there’s clearly tonnes of lap time still on the table.

The biggest adjustment required is simply understanding the grip level and finding the courage to turn into fast corners at ungodly speeds. The low mass, racecar-style layout and huge amounts of downforce create an agility and a raw lateral load capability that’s miles beyond, say, a 992 GT3 RS. For a civilian that’s quite the thing to get your head around. Of course, whilst you build-up to the entry speeds, there’s still the insanely smooth and wickedly powerful V10 to enjoy, accompanied by a superb 7spd sequential box.

What’s not to like?

Good question. The Solus GT is such a sensory overload that it’s hard to pinpoint dynamic weaknesses - and especially ones that couldn’t be eliminated or altered by adjustments to ride height, geometry, anti-roll bar settings etc. All of which are possible with the Solus. I guess the inescapable facts are that the Solus GT is in no way, shape or form a road car and hence you start to compare it to race cars.

And when you do then the value proposition doesn’t stack up compared to, say, a P2 car - which is proven, extremely fast in terms of lap time and much, much cheaper. Plus, you can go racing. But for wealthy collectors and enthusiasts, the Solus GT being a McLaren (albeit one built by a company called KW Special Projects in Silverstone, Northants) and highly limited is all a huge part of the appeal.

A special thanks to The Triple F Collection for allowing us to drive their Solus GT

What's the verdict?

One seat, 10 cylinders, 1,200kg of downforce: McLaren’s clean-sheet track car makes a Senna GTR seem tame

It’s hard not to be blown away by a sub-tonne track car with huge aero, a stunning V10 engine and a unique and brilliant driving environment. So, we quite like the Solus GT. The fact that it offers such incredible performance with the reassurance of ABS and traction control is fantastic. That you don’t seem to rely on it at all as the car is so easy to drive and encourages you to push is even better.

The Solus GT feels like a car you could gradually learn to exploit over many years. It’s a really cool project. Overall the Solus GT looks fantastic, sounds even better (there was a McLaren MP4/5 sharing the track with us and the Solus was louder and angrier) and has scintillating dynamics.

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