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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McLaren Has No Intention Of Dipping Into The SUV Market
The growing popularity of SUVs has been evident throughout the auto industry as more and more automakers have taken to building their own models to take advantage of the growing demand. The SUV bug has spread so far that even premium brands like Aston Martin, Bentley, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Rolls-Royce have all jumped in on the segment. But not every premium brand is on board with the movement and McLaren counts itself among the thinning crop of exotic brands that has no plans on building its own SUV.
During the international launch of the McLaren 570GT, McLaren PR chief Wayne Bruce (no, that’s not Batman’s alter-ego) made it clear that the British supercar brand is nowhere close to even considering the thought of launching its own SUV. According to Bruce, McLaren is serious about its intention of growing its sports car business and deviating away from that goal by building an SUV runs counter to its short- and long-term objectives. Additionally, McLaren is already doing well with its current business plan. It has made a profit over the past three years and it’s got a steady stream of new models that will be released in the coming months and years, the 570GT among them.
Then there’s arguably the most important reason: McLaren’s customers don’t want the company to build an SUV. Heeding to the calls and objections of your clients may not be a sound business decision for a bigger automaker, but with McLaren still counting itself as a niche brand with a dedicated customer base, listening to what they say is an integral part of the company’s success.
Abandoning that DNA in the name of business is something that McLaren takes really seriously, and while other firms may have been compelled to dip into the SUV market for one reason or another, the British supercar brand is keeping its feet planted with no regrets about it.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
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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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.
Rumors about McLaren’s plans on building an SUV have been floating around ever since Lamborghini confirmed the Urus, but the Brits aren’t likely to give in and follow the trend started by manufacturers such as Porsche or BMW.
In a recent interview, company chief executive officer Mike Flewitt ruled out any chances of seeing an SUV roll out of Woking, quoting the McLaren heritage and the brand’s desire to remain focused on building sports cars.
"We genuinely believe we make the best sports cars in the world. We need to remain focused. McLaren is a sports car brand and that’s exactly what we’re going to remain," Flewitt said in an interview in Shanghai, China, according to Automotive News.
With SUVs out of the company’s foreseeable future, McLaren will be looking to increase global growth by launching an entry-level model called the P13. Aimed at the Porsche 911, the "baby" McLaren will go into production next next year.
Additionally, Flewitt stressed that the sports car manufacturer seeks to introduce one new model each year and boost annual sales to 4,000 vehicles by 2017.
Click past the jump to read more about Lamborghini Urus - one of the competitors for this denied McLaren SUV.