As much as McLaren tries to resist the booming SUV market, it may one day be a matter of survival for the British supercar maker. Here’s what it could look like.
Over the past two decades, nearly all supercar brands have capitalised on the SUV boom – beginning with Porsche in the 2000s, Lamborghini and Aston Martin in the 2010s, and now Ferrari and Lotus in the 2020s.
But a number of exotic brands have so far avoided building sport-utility vehicles of their own, including one major player: McLaren.
The British supercar maker’s former CEO, Mike Flewitt – who led the company from 2013, through the rapid expansion of its supercar portfolio – long declared McLaren would not build an SUV, instead focusing its efforts on the two (and three) seaters that made its brand.
While there’s no firm evidence to suggest a McLaren SUV is in development – or even on the planning board – a higher-riding, more popular and equally profitable ‘crossover’ could be the secret sauce needed to close the sales gap to Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin.
The front and rear light clusters are pure Artura (pictured below), the former retaining the supercar maker’s signature arrow-like shape, inspired in part by its logo – joined by a broad central intake and a sharp leading edge of the bonnet.
Sized similarly to a Porsche Cayenne Coupe or Lamborghini Urus, our theoretical McLaren SUV adopts an in-vogue ‘coupe’ styled roofline, along with other trendy styling features including flush-fitting, pop-out door handles akin to a Tesla Model X or new Lotus Eletre.
We’ve kept our McLaren SUV design purely petrol powered, with a pair of exhaust tips poking out of the bumper – and cooling vents over the front and behind the rear wheels, aiding brake cooling and aerodynamics.
Should a McLaren SUV ever see the light of day, however, it’s far more likely to adopt hybrid technology – both to meet stringent current and future emissions regulations in Europe, and leverage the plug-in technology debuted in the Artura.
Under the bonnet of this theoretical crossover would sit an adapted version of the Artura’s new 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6, paired with an electric motor – though with revised tuning compared to the supercar, outputs may not hit the same 500kW and 720Nm highs in the SUV.
While the Artura is rear-wheel drive, an SUV’s more practical focus means all-wheel drive is far more likely – either with a second electric motor on the front axle, or a mechanical connection from the turbo V6 under the bonnet of what would be the first front-engined McLaren.
Electrical energy in the Artura comes from a 7.4kWh battery good for 30km of range, though with the SUV likely to weigh closer to two tonnes than the Artura’s 1498kg, a battery double or triple the size would be needed to offset the vehicle’s mass, and cover closer to 50km on a full charge.
A hypothetical McLaren SUV with near-500kW V6 plug-in hybrid power would place it in contention with everything from the petrol V8-powered Aston Martin DBX and Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT, to the future BMW XM and Lamborghini Urus plug-in hybrids.
Ferrari’s first SUV – known provisionally as the Purosangue – is rumoured to offer a plug-in hybrid system after its initial reveal later this year, possibly harnessing the V6 PHEV system from the Artura’s direct rival, the Ferrari 296 GTB.
Stay tuned to Drive for all the latest McLaren news – including any word on a future production SUV from the New Zealand-named, UK-based supercar maker.
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