After some initial hesitation, ultra-luxury, low-volume performance brands have thoroughly embraced SUVs. Lamborghini has had one for a while. Aston Martin added one to its roster a bit more recently. And of course Ferrari will soon have one, too. McLaren, though? As it happens, team orange has historically been a holdout on the SUV front — though that may not be the case for much longer.
The report comes to us by way of Autocar, which claims without attribution that McLaren is planning to launch a battery-electric SUV in the “second half” of the 2020s. Being a big EV, it would be even more expensive than the likes of the GT and Artura, landing in the £350,000 ($A616,258) range. While the strategy supposedly for now is to push only one model for the foreseeable future, the SUV would grow to offer a variety of specifications, not dissimilar from McLaren’s approach to its supercar and hypercar offerings. From the article:
The new crossover, on course to hit the market in the second half of this decade, will be a fully battery-electric proposition, not a hybrid, and will never be available with a combustion engine.
McLaren is understood to be eyeing a single model to begin with, but past practice suggests different specifications and power levels will be offered in time, similar to the Aston Martin DBX.
The new McLarens are believed to be relatively low, compact, dual- or tri-motor, four-wheel-drive designs offering exalted performance levels likely to match the recently launched Aston Martin DBX 707, currently billed as the world’s fastest SUV.
Now, the usual disclaimers of unattributed rumours about things you won’t see for probably five years, maybe more certainly applies here, so go get your grains of salt. That said, McLaren changing its tune and deciding to join its market rivals with an SUV of its own would be extremely believable for two reasons.
First, McLaren’s competitors are making a killing on them; take Aston, whose financial future is looking considerably brighter thanks to the DBX. Second, if you’ve followed McLaren at all over the past couple of years, you likely know that it needs money.
The company laid off 1,200 employees in May 2020 and sold its bean-shaped supervillain complex to a New York-based company cryptically named Global Net Lease last year. What’s more, Audi or BMW or both seem to want to snap McLaren up for themselves in part or whole, which suggests the brand could be sold off for an attractive price to a deeper-pocketed automaker. And, as far as the Audi portion of that rumour’s concerned, ain’t nobody’s got deeper pockets than Volkswagen.
I’m sure McLaren remains philosophically opposed to SUVs, just like Porsche probably was until the Cayenne saved it. Speaking of the Cayenne, again, courtesy Autocar:
Perhaps the clearest guide to Woking’s changed intentions is the imminent arrival of a new CEO, Michael Leiters, a German engineer who spent more than a decade at Porsche overseeing the gestation of the highly successful Cayenne and Macan SUVs, then joined Ferrari in 2014 as chief technical officer – ideal timing for the design and conception of the Purosangue.
There’s no shame in doing what you’ve got to do to get that paycheck, McLaren — so long as you don’t stop building the sorts of vehicles that would’ve made your earlier self proud.