McLaren CEO Explains Why an SUV is Not on The Company Menu
McLaren has made it clear that it has no plans to develop an SUV, and we’re finally hearing the company’s reasons straight from CEO Mike Flewitt. In a conversation with Top Gear, Flewitt was clear that McLaren isn’t joining the SUV party, largely because it costs a lot of money to develop one. More importantly, he doesn’t want to dilute the McLaren “brand,” a sentiment we’ve heard from the automaker a number of times in the past.
Stop Waiting For a McLaren SUV Because It’s Not Happening
Despite constant rumors that it’s looking into building one, McLaren has made it clear that it has no intention of entering the SUV market. According to the automaker, an SUV isn’t a part of its long-term Track22 business and development plan. Instead, McLaren will solely focus on building two-seat sports cars to help build its legacy as one of the most important sports car brands in the world. Any other model that deviates from that plan would be a non-starter from the get-go.
Don’t Expect To See a McLaren SUV Anytime Soon
In a world where the Lamborghini Urus and the Aston Martin DBX exist, the thought of a supercar brand venturing into the realm of SUVs isn’t that far-fetched anymore. It’s not just Lambo and Aston, either. Bentley also has the Bentayga, Rolls-Royce has the Cullinan, and Ferrari has, well, something up its sleeve. McLaren, however, is resisting the urge to jump into that market. It’s said before that it has no plans to develop an SUV. That stance was reinforced recently by the company’s chief designer, Dan Parry-Williams.
2020 McLaren SUV
It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of a McLaren SUV was absurd, a pipe dream for the lunatic fringe that indulged in fevered fantasies about jacked-up sports cars tackling the great outdoors. These days, though, it actually makes a lot of sense. One of the best examples comes from Porsche, which unveiled the mid-size Cayenne back in 2002 and promptly destroyed all expectations by simply cleaning up in sales. So then – it would seem as though demand for a “traditional” sports car ebbs and flows, while the SUV segment continues to entice buyers across the board. No surprise then that a host of manufacturers best known churning out high-end sports cars is turning to the SUV body style as a reliable source of income. Some of the latest to jump on the bandwagon include Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jaguar, and even Lamborghini. Could McLaren be next, and if so, what would a McLaren SUV look like? To find out, we drew up a rendering and did a little daydreaming in the following speculative review.
Before we go any further, it bears mentioning that McLaren has flat out denied any interest whatsoever in the business of building SUVs. Sports cars and supercars are its game, and it’s gonna take something big to change McLaren’s mind in the matter. At the same time, McLaren says it plans on building as many as 15 new models by 2022. So what if one of those was an SUV?
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When you’re an automaker like McLaren that has a small lineup and limited production numbers, it’s only natural that some people out there will want more. According to Robert Melville, McLaren’s Chief Designer, most people at McLaren have been asked about things like McLaren building an SUV, or even motorcycles. It doesn’t mean that McLaren is going to jump into building an SUV, bike, or four-seater any time in the foreseeable future, but Melville did have something to say about it.
“With MSO, we did a car a few years ago that was harking back to coachbuilding. If you come to MSO, we could design you an all-new body. We can design you whatever you want, if you have the money for it.”
Melville agreed that MSO could indeed build a four-seater SUV. To do so, however, McLaren Special Operations would have to design a whole new carbon fiber tub, which would cost millions. A new architecture would have to be created because McLaren’s current platform just wouldn’t work for something like an SUV. For the right price, though, MSO sure would put in the work. Aside from the price, one really has to wonder just how long it would take for MSO to design and build such an SUV.
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McLaren is set to add a third car to its entry-level Sports Series lineup, which already includes the 2016 McLaren 570S and 2016 McLaren 540C, but unlike those cars, the new variant will be a more well-appointed luxury version with an elongated, full-glass roof that cuts a fastback profile. Appropriately, the new car could be called the McLaren Gran Turismo.
According to Automobile, the McLaren GT will be built around same basic carbon-fiber MonoCell II tub from the Sports Series cars, as well as the 2015 McLaren 650S and 2014 McLaren P1 and use the same 562-horsepower, twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V-8 found in the 570S. The same adaptive damper suspension system is likely to be carried over with a more compliant setup and selectable Normal, Sport and Track handling modes.
Comfier seats, higher levels of luxury and more leather and Alcantara surfaces in the McLaren Gran Tursimo’s cabin will make it better suited for enjoying long-distance journeys. The additional space afforded by the longer roof also allows for extra storage space behind the headrest and better rear visibility.
Given the new roof and more opulent interior, expect the McLaren Gran Turismo to cost more than the $184,900 570S. We should get out first look sometime in 2016.
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If you were hoping to see McLaren jump on the SUV bandwagon anytime soon, you can stop now. McLaren has made it clear, once again, that it doesn’t want to join Bentley, Rolls-Royce or Lamborghini in the growing niche of expensive, luxury SUVs. In fact, McLaren went as far as to explain why the brand doesn’t need an SUV to remain profitable, despite having a narrow vehicle lineup.
Speaking to Automotive News at the Geneva Motor Show, McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt said the carmaker can survive without building an SUV by keeping its sales spread over as many regions as possible. "For example, China is very volatile. If we overcommit to China, we’ll lose a load of sales," said Flewitt. China is currently one of the most important markets for luxury SUVs, and is where both Bentley and Rolls-Royce are hoping to make big bucks with their upcoming ultra-expensive rigs.
Flewitt thinks it’s also important to keep tight control over costs, which McLaren does with great success by using the same carbon-fiber platform and twin-turbo V-8 engine for its entire lineup. Now forming the basis of two-car range, the combo will become the backbone of the Sports Series, smaller-than-* 650S models aimed at the Porsche 911. Lastly, Flewitt said McLaren would rather spend money to keep its current products fresh rather than enter a new niche. "The fresher you keep the produce the more you can keep your price up," he added.
Updated 03/31/2015: As it launched the new 570S Coupe sports car at the 2015 New York Auto Show, McLaren reiterated that it won’t develop an SUV by displaying a large photo with crossovers from Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, and Lamborghini with a big, orange X over them (Chris Harris/Twitter). Find out more below.
Continue reading to learn why McLaren decided it needs no SUV in its lineup.