Will McLaren ever build a front engined car?
I go into detail on whether or not we can expect one...
The immediate answer is... they already have. You will, of course, have forgotten about the SLR McLaren, a car that came even before the 12C. But I know you aren't interested in that! You want to know about the future...
McLaren has had a tough upbringing. In 2011, when their first mass market model entered production, the supercar market was beginning to saturate. A million 'start-ups' were entering the ring, and the average rich person got frightened, and resorted to a traditional Lamborghini or Ferrari instead. The 12C lacked the looks that a supercar needed, and reliability issues warded off potential buyers.
Since then, McLaren has developed the 12C into the 650S/675LT/P1 range, and now into the truly huge 540C/570S/570GT/600LT/620R/GT/720S/765LT/Senna/Speedtail/Elva range, with cars that seemingly cover all bases, from comfort to handling.
Almost all their cars are now faster, and better developed than any rivals, Youtube is full of 720S' beating Aventador SV's and 488 Pistas. But the problem they have is that while they may have a massive range, every single car they make is based on the same platform and the same engine. Seriously : the £130k 540C shares it's basic structure with the £1.5mil Speedtail.
And people want to know - when will McLaren diversify?
The Saloon Option
McLaren is always very cagey about future development plans, but McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt states that a four seat McLaren GT is likely in the near future. This would not have four doors, but rather take a Lotus Evora approach of 4 seats and 2 doors. I mention the Evora, because unfortunately a 4 seater McLaren is likely to be mid-engined at the moment.
Flewitt said that there was a possibility they could make a car 'more attractive than anything in the segment', clearly making a dig at Porsche's hideous Panamera and AMG's bulbous GT 4 Door. He also said it would 'lose a little agility', but remained sure it would handle better than most cars.
So front-engined saloon? No. Mid engined 2+2? Yes.
The SUV Option
Top management at McLaren have consistently denied any SUV being developed. I'm rather skeptical though. Mclaren has almost no money, with it all going into new model development. The DBX will rescue Aston, the Cullinan has rescued Rolls, the Bentayga allowed for the Conti and Flying Spur and the Purosangue aims to do the same for Ferrari. And yet, you have never even considered it? I'm calling bull.
But for now? Front Engined SUV = No!
The GT Option
We know that McLaren has a 765bhp V8 standing in the wings, ready to take on the 750bhp DBS Superleggera and 790bhp Ferrari 812 Superfast. We know their platform is flexible enough to encompass engines in different positions.
Nothing has been confirmed, but the company is unusually good at hiding protoype vehicles until the last minute. McLaren has some very distinctive styling features nowadays, so it would be a challenge to incorporate that to a front-engined layout. But come on Macca, we all want it!
McLaren's range will diversify. They have already added a three seater to their lineup, and a four seater will soon follow. SUV's are unlikely, but I struggle to see a future where McLaren doesn't shift powertrains around. After all, they won't put the batteries behind the driver!
I have always theorised the best merger in the world would be Aston Martin and McLaren. Both are independent, British companies, so it could easily be done. And if the result was a sprinkling of Macca comfort and speed into Astons, and a sprinkling of Aston stylishness into McLarens, it would be a win win!
Comment your opinions below!