Will Semi-Autonomous Features And Hybrid Power Ruin The Pleasure Of Driving A McLaren?
The Woking brand looks to the future, but what will consumers think?by Jonathan Lopez, on
The supercar segment is doing quite well these days, with expanded offerings across the board, from hardcore track killers, to everyday sports cruisers. McLaren is staying active, with plans to hybridize its lineup and add new autonomous driving features. But is it the right move for the supercar maker?
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The Full Story
McLaren has plans to electrify the entirety of its core lineup, kicking off with a replacement for the 570S by 2019.
The modern McLaren Cars company was founded in 2010, but the brand’s history stretches back further than that, with Ron Dennis founding the company in 1985 that would eventually lead up the the release of the epic McLaren F1 in the early ’90s. Now, the market is changing, and it’s changing rapidly. Increased competition, new technology demands, and heavy pressure for greater efficiency are forcing the Woking brand to change up the formula and add autonomous driving systems and hybrid powertrains, both of which will see extensive use in McLaren’s forthcoming line of supercars.
The fresh batch of vehicles is due out by 2019, kicking off with a replacement for the 570S, the mid-grade option in McLaren’s entry-level stable. After that will be a new 720S,which is expected to receive a replacement in 2022.
Indeed, McLaren has plans to electrify the entirety of its core lineup, including the upcoming BP23, which is expected to use a hybrid twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8. And while V-8’s are McLaren’s specialty, hybrid and turbocharged V-6 engines will also join the lineup.
All told, the brand's next-gen architecture will be designed specifically for the inclusion of battery-assisted tech.
All told, the brand’s next-gen architecture will be designed specifically for the inclusion of battery-assisted tech. “Hybrid design is part of the next platform – it is designed-in from day one rather than having to adapt an existing chassis,” said Mike Flewitt, CEO at McLaren Automotive, in an interview with Autocar. Luckily for those who loathe extra battery packs, McLaren might offer internal combustion-only special editions as well, such as in the top-rung Ultimate Series.
While the purists out there will undoubtedly deride McLaren’s decision to force hybrid tech onto its customers, it’s worth reminding those naysayers that the hugely popular P1 hypercar is proof positive that the tech can be used to maximize performance potential. While adding batteries certainly adds weight, anyone who’s actually driven the P1 will tell you – the packs don’t dull the experience one bit.
Regarding the inclusion of autonomous tech, Flewitt had this to say: “We will be selective. Autonomy in its own right isn’t that appealing to our customers, but we need to have capabilities designed in for safety, legislation and emissions.”
Regarding the inclusion of autonomous tech, Flewitt had this to say: “We will be selective. Autonomy in its own right isn't that appealing to our customers, but we need to have capabilities designed in for safety, legislation and emissions.”
It’s a clear acknowledgment of the changing automotive landscape, something that affects even high-end supercar-makers like McLaren. To that end, we’d expect the inclusion of adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and automatic braking, all of which would do well to up the daily driveability of the various models.
And that makes a lot of sense, and for a number of different reasons. For example, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) requires a model to include at least a few basic semi-autonomous systems before it will grant the vehicle in question with a top-shelf safety rating. Furthermore, these systems are pretty much standard equipment throughout a variety of segments, so why not supercars? Throw in the fact that McLaren is looking to branch out into the more relaxed sportscar segments (take the Super Series lineup, for example), and it kinda all falls into place.
Just offer the option to turn them off when attacking corners on the track, and what’s the problem?
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Read our full review on the 2014 McLaren P1.
Read our full review on the 2017 McLaren 570S.
Read our full review on the 2018 McLaren 720S.
Read our full speculative review on the 2019 McLaren BP23.