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Official: McLaren too is going SUV

October 13, 2022

The popularity of SUVs continues to grow. Porsche was one of the first sports car brands to enter the segment with the Cayenne in 2003. Many brands have since followed. The latest addition to the list is McLaren, which has now officially confirmed the arrival of an SUV model. The new model will not only be the brand’s first SUV, but also their first-ever all-electric model.

True to McLaren DNA

Still, Michael Leiters, McLaren’s new CEO, emphasizes in an interview with CAR Magazine that the upcoming SUV will remain true to the McLaren DNA. So count on good performance and driving dynamics, made possible by a (relatively) lightweight construction. Salient detail: before joining McLaren, Leiters worked at Ferrari on the Purosange, also a first SUV model for that brand.

Demand for McLaren SUV model

An SUV is at odds with what we have come to expect from McLaren in recent years, but it is just desperately needed for the brand’s revenue. According to Leiters, current McLaren customers have even asked for a “car for the whole family. Blame Leiters. At Lamborghini, for example, the Urus quickly grew to become the best-selling model ever for the brand.

Lightweight construction

That the SUV model meets brand values does matter to Leiters. For example, as mentioned, the McLaren SUV will have lightweight construction. This is due in large part to carbon fiber. The McLaren Composite Technology Center in Sheffield is now exploring the possibilities of “augmenting” the carbon fiber structures as they currently make them. To that end, McLaren is considering a construction with a carbon fiber body on an aluminum chassis, which together form a single unit.

New design language for McLaren

The new SUV will also immediately introduce a new design language for the brand. Not only because the body shape, which is entirely new for the brand, offers new possibilities, but also because McLaren itself does feel that the current models are too similar in design. Aerodynamics, of course, continue to play a big role in that new design. The brand’s Formula 1 division will help make the SUV as aerodynamic as possible.

McLaren SUV will be all-electric

What is at least already certain is the McLaren SUV’s powertrain. That one will be all-electric. The weight of the current generation of lithium-ion batteries does pose a problem, Leiters acknowledges. Especially for the car’s cornering. Therefore, McLaren has no plans (yet) for an electric supercar. For the SUV, the higher weight is less of a problem because that will be a bigger car anyway. At least to get rid of the weight properly, the battery will be incorporated into the bottom of the car, so the center of gravity will be nice and low.

The batteries for the McLaren Artura hybrid are from BMW, but it is not yet certain that the brand from Bavaria will also supply the batteries for the McLaren SUV. So would talks with other manufacturers and tech companies.

Advanced software

In terms of software, McLaren also has big plans for the SUV. Especially in the area of driving dynamics, advanced technology should provide major benefits. Thus, the power release can be made linear, so that it is released gradually just like a fuel engine. This makes the car more manageable. Advanced software can also play a major role for other driving characteristics, such as electric all-wheel drive with differential function. Leiters reveals that McLaren plans to develop the driving dynamics software in-house.

What is the name of the McLaren SUV?

Leiters thinks not only that the various McLaren models are too similar in design, but also the model names with their letter and number combinations are too confusing. Therefore, the SUV will probably have a “real” name, but what it will be is not yet known.

McLaren SUV in production

By its own expectations, the McLaren SUV will begin to double the brand’s overall production numbers. That does present a challenge, as the McLaren Production Center in Woking is calculated to handle about 6,000 cars a year. So a new factory will have to be built for the SUV. Or sought, as McLaren will likely partner with an outside party for production. According to current forecasts, the McLaren SUV will come to market in 2026.