McLaren Plans No Model Below The 540C
In case you didn’t know, the Sport Series is McLaren’s attempt at offering a more accessible and more practical supercar for those individuals with less than a quarter million dollars to spend on a new ride. It’s the British automaker’s shot at taking on the Audi R8 and Porsche 911, and it includes the $185,000 570S and $160,000 540C. While not cheap by most people’s standards, it is quite the cut for a brand best known for the hybrid P1 hypercar, a vehicle that comes with a $1.15 million sticker price, and according to Wayne Bruce, McLaren’s global director of communications, the 540C is the lowest price point we’ll see from the marque for a very long time.
That’s the news from TheTruthAboutCars, which spoke with Bruce recently about the possibility of an even cheaper model from McLaren in the future, specifically something under the six-figure mark. Bruce responded by saying the automaker had no interest in creating such a car, and for two specific reasons.
First, there’s the issue of materials. McLaren uses carbon fiber extensively throughout its model range, and while the composite offers superb rigidity and feathery-light weight, it’s extremely expensive to produce, making it difficult to utilize at low prices without sacrificing profitability.
Secondly, there’s the issue of exclusivity. The new Sport Series will likely put many new McLarens on the road, as Bruce says the marque expects to create roughly 4,000 units a year once production hits its stride, up from the 1,400 units produced in 2013. According to Bruce, that’s McLaren’s limit, with no current plans to expand production capacity.
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Why it matters
McLaren recently stated its desires to remain independent, unlike rival supercar producers Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Bugatti, all of which enjoy the support of larger parent companies like Fiat and Volkswagen. In order to support itself, McLaren must sell a variety of models, such as those in the Sport Series, to bolster sales. But it’s a tenuous balance to keep, and while the 570S and 540C do bring accessibility, McLaren must maintain its credibility as an exclusive brand and forgo significant reinvestment just to move additional units.
At the end of the day though, the Sport Series is really just there to add fuel to McLaren’s racing efforts. The Sport Series is part of an expansion across the automaker’s lineup, with 570S and 540C sales feeding directly to things like the P1 GTR customer racer program. It’s a means to an end, and as long as McLaren can stay on track with its dedicated racers, don’t expect anything new below the 540C (or, thankfully, a McLaren SUV for that matter).
And, all things considered, that’s a good thing.
While descriptors like “cheapest” and “least powerful” are not normally the kind of things we get excited about, the 540C proves that all things are relative, especially in the world of high-dollar exotics. Making its debut at the Shanghai Auto Show this year, the 540C is McLaren’s most entry-level offering to date, but still has performance to impress all but the most jaded speed junkies. The exterior draws heavily from the P1 halo vehicle, while the interior boasts the most usable space and storage ever hidden under a McLaren badge. Motivating the 540C is a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8 with 533 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. A run to 60 mph takes 3.5 seconds while top speed is a tick below 200 mph.
Read our full review here.