McLaren Closes Door On Building Porsche Cayman Rival
McLaren’s product expansion apparently has its limits, so says chief designer Robert Melville. In a conversation with Autocar, Melville effectively ruled out the possibility of seeing a new McLaren model sit below the recently launched 540C and take on other entry level sports cars like Porsche’s Cayman and Boxster duo.
The revelation doesn’t come as a surprise given how dramatic McLaren’s expansion has been. Just this year, the British supercar brand has introduced four new models, including the aforementioned 540C, which currently holds the distinction of being the company’s entry-level machine. That model is already being lined up to take on the Porsche 911 and the Audi R8, which, according to Melville, is as far as the company is going to go in order to retain its exclusive status.
McLaren has, for the longest time, resisted the temptation to go mainstream, opting to continue occupying the space reserved for supercar marques. But, with the sports car/supercar market evolving in recent years, the need to build “every day” supercars became paramount, hence the decision to introduce the 540C and 570S. As Melville points out, however, there’s a limit to this expansion and going down from the 540C is a line that McLaren isn’t going to cross anytime soon.
The introduction of both the 540C and the 570S already opens up McLaren to its intended market, so instead of moving down from these two models, the company is opting to move laterally and develop different variants of both models. Right now, a 570S Spyder is already in the works, as is a 570S GT version that’s going to look a lot different than its standard namesake.
So if anybody was hoping to get a brand-new McLaren that’s in the price range of a Porsche Cayman, don’t expect to see it in the foreseeable future.
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Why it matters
This is a smart decision for McLaren considering that I actually thought it was already spreading itself a little too thin by introducing the 540C. Moving further down from that would pretty much do that, and eliminate the very notion of exclusivity that the company has hung its hat on for so long.
Melville said it best when he told Autocar that it’s a “step too far.” That’s because it is. McLaren would be better served employing its current strategy of building variants and derivatives of its existing models. Versions for the 570S are already in the pipeline and I wouldn’t be against it if the company decided to do the same with the 540C. If it can build up these two models to complement the more exclusive 650S and 675LT and the ultra exclusive P1, it would already represent a dramatic strategic shift for the company.
I’m not disappointed that we’re not going to see a Cayman-fighter from McLaren. It’s not that I don’t want it; it’s because I completely support McLaren’s thought process. The British supercar brand needs to keep its core identity intact. It can stretch it as far as it has already done, but anything more than that would make it look like McLaren’s selling its “exclusive” status for the sake of improving its sales numbers.
In a roundabout way, I actually think that expanding that way would be detrimental to the brand’s image and status in the long run. So yeah, I’m not bummed out about not seeing a McLaren lining up against the Porsche Cayman. Far from it.
Read our full review on the McLaren 540C here.