KEEN MOTORISTS who wear their string-backed driving gloves with pride and lament the rise of newfangled hybrid technology in sports cars had better brace themselves: McLaren says that in a handful of years, half of the British brand’s sports cars will be powered by hybrid systems and it could produce a pure-electric successor to the P1.
At the 2016 Geneva motor show, the company announced a £1bn investment programme that will see fifteen new models launched by 2022, including a range of hybrids, as well as a prototype for a pure-electric version of its next ‘Ultimate Series’ — which may become the successor to the P1 hypercar.
Whether or not the pure-electric hypercar makes it out of a test track and into showrooms remains the subject of ongoing debate. McLaren’s boffins admit that their key challenge will be delivering electrification without ruining the essence of what makes a McLaren a McLaren.
The new hybrid system will likely be based on McLaren’s existing 3.8-litre V8 engine, but with a reduced capacity. Some models are likely to follow the P1’s lead and be plug-in hybrids, capable of running for a number of miles on electricity alone before the petrol engine is needed.
Also debuting in Geneva was the 570GT, a more usable version of the McLaren 570S (which is reviewed for us here by new Top Gear presenter Chris Harris).
McLaren has introduced an extending, side-hinged rear window that opens in the style of an E-Type Jag. It reveals an extra 220-litres of boot space. Add that to the 150-litres in the nose and you have a supercar with more luggage capacity than a Ford Focus.
It’s also been subtly retuned to be more refined and cosseting on long journeys, but it shares the 562bhp, twin-turbo engine of the 570S. McLaren says the new model will hit 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds. Prices start at £154,000, around £10k more than the 570S.
As for its future plans, Mike Flewitt, CEO of McLaren, has ruled out, for now at least, building anything other than mid-engined sports cars based around a carbon fibre monocoque chassis.
The fifteen new cars will therefore continue to be derived from McLaren’s series of ‘Sports’, ‘Super Sports’ and ‘Ultimate’ cars. Soon, there’ll be a convertible version of the new 570 and 540 models and, in due course, a replacement for the 650/675.
The lightweight ‘LT’ concept has proved such a success on the 675LT that it will now become a sub-brand and feature across the range – think of it as McLaren’s equivalent of the Porsche 911 GT3.
Also read: I am still slightly amazed — and thrilled — that we live in a world where a car as fast as this can be made.” Jeremy Clarkson reviews the McLaren P1 for The Sunday Times Driving.