Is It Finally Time For McLaren To Take The Crossover Plunge?
The answer is most likely YES, but the question remains, when?by Khris Bharath, on
McLaren is synonymous with putting together some pretty cynical and darn right outrageous supercars, but we’re in 2022, and I’m sure that the idea of a McLaren SUV must have surely crossed your mind. Ever wondered what that could look like? Well, this digital render by andras.s.veres gives us a good idea of what an SUV made in Woking, the U.K. could look like.
The Birth Of The Performance SUV
Like it or not, the world has gone nuts for crossovers and SUVs, and it’s not just your run-of-the-mill sub-urban runabout that I’m talking about; this is a bug that has its reach far and wide within the automotive demographic. Back in the old days, if you wanted to go off the beaten track, you’d get yourself a proper 4x4 like a Land Rover, Jeep, or Land Crusier and if you wanted to hit the track, you’d probably get a sports car of some sort.
But today, you no longer need two separate vehicles to perform the same tasks (-minus the pseudo SUVs that don’t really work off-road), as these two formats have merged like never before in history, and for the purist, it is absolute sacrilege for this trend to have caught on.
Little did we know that the popularity of performance SUVs would one day grow ten folds
A World That’s Gone Crossover Crazy
Enter the performance SUV. Lamborghini was one of the first supercar makers to have wet their hands with the idea of a performance SUV, but it wasn’t until Porsche came along with the original Cayenne in the new millennium that things started to pick up. While the idea of a Porsche SUV shocked the die-hard Porsche fanatic it somehow managed to help the cash-strapped brand gain momentum. Fast forward a decade and Porsche doesn’t have one but two performance SUVs in its lineup with the introduction of the Macan.
Keeping it within the VW Group, Lamborghini finally gave us a successor to the LM002, the extremely popular Urus, and Bentley followed suit with the Benatyga. The list goes on, Jaguar with the F-Pace, Alfa with the Stelvio, Maserati with the Levante, and Aston with the DBX. Even a staunch Ferrari which had staved off this SUV craze recently gave in and we now know that the upcoming Purosangue will have the option of a V-12. Lotus meanwhile leapfrogged its way into the crossover SUV world but jumped in straight to offer an EV, the Eletre.
I hope you can see where this is going. So, why are automakers doing it? Well, it’s simple. Money. SUVs have big fat profit margins and they appeal to a wider audience. There are people out there who’ve always aspired to own a car from a performance marque but just can’t do it because of just how unpractical a low-slung sports car can be. The performance SUV may take a slight hit in terms of its outright pace, but the benefits clearly outweigh the cons.
Also, take a good hard look at the image above. You’ll notice that every single one of these models belongs to a sportscar maker of some sort and have a rich heritage and pedigree. Sure Bentley and Rolls Royce are more luxury brands today, but they both have a rich racing pedigree dating back to the 20s and 30s. This brings me to another British marque, Mclaren.
McLaren will eventually have to swallow the crossover pill. It is inevitable. The question is when
A Potential McLaren SUV
Clearly then, it’s no secret that SUVs are quite literally money-making machines and as much as I hate to see it happen, I can’t see why McLaren doesn’t have an SUV in its lineup yet. This render is an idealistic interpretation of what a McLaren SUV could eventually end up looking like. The digital artist has taken the face and the tail light section from a McLaren 720S and has slapped it onto the body of an SUV.
Yes, you’ve got the traditional traits of the pseudo SUV like the jacked-up ride height, the roof rails, and crucially, a good dose of body cladding. Does it work? Well, I let you decide on that one. Given that we’re in a transitionary phase at the moment, McLaren could use their V6 hybrid but how exactly can it build an SUV with an architecture that is predominantly mid-engined, now that’s a whole other ordeal that needs figuring out.
New leadership at McLaren automotive could get the ball rolling
The former Boss of McLaren Automotive, Mike Flewitt served as the CEO for 8 long years. Starting out in 2012, the man was behind several significant models for the British marque including the likes of the Elva, Senna, the GT, and the more recent Hybrid, the Artura.
According to Car and driver, the McLaren Honcho was never a fan of the idea of a McLaren SUV as it was a proposition that would require close to $1 in development and a return on it just wasn’t possible. Flewitt retired as CEO in October last year and leaves behind a company that is strapped for cash.
But now, there is hope. It was just a couple of weeks ago that McLaren Automotive announced that Michael Leiters has assumed the role of CEO, who until recently served as the chief technical officer. This is pretty significant for McLaren because according to Autocar UK, the man was responsible for the original Porsche Cayenne and the more recent Ferrari Purosangue. Also, both Audi and Porsche will enter F1 by 2026.
While Porsche will most likely supply engines to Red Bull, Audi is looking at acquiring the McLaren F1 team. According to the Quattrodaily, if this deal goes through, Audi would also acquire Mclaren’s automotive arm. Coming under the VW Groups umbrella will not only benefit McLaren financially, but it would also have several other brands that already have experience making high-performance SUVs, that could come to its aid in coming up with a money-making SUV fast. Well, this is pure speculation, but we’ll have to wait and watch this space. But apart from Audi, BMW could also potentially acquire McLaren.
So, if McLaren does take the plunge into the crossover/SUV space, it will be one of the last of the mainstream supercar makers to fall. Sure you’ve still got brands like Koenigsegg, Pagani, Spyker, Morgan, and TVR, but they’re are super low volume, supercar makers. Within the VW group, I’m sure that someone might have already envisioned a Bugatti SUV, but with the new partnership with Rimac, I’d imagine that such a proposition would most likely be electric.