McLaren looks to expand line-up with stand-alone GT

McLaren boss has spoken about creating a separate GT model line, hybrids, solid-state battery versions and maybe even the firm’s first 2+2

McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt has revealed he is “thinking hard” about a stand-alone GT model and, further into the future, even a 2+2, as part of plans to rapidly broaden the company’s product portfolio.

McLaren GT

McLaren GT

McLaren is set to make an announcement at the Geneva motor show next month, and it is possible the Woking-based brand will detail the new GT.

“We know our sporting models command great credibility in the market on that side of our core offering.” Flewitt told Autocar. “But I think there is space on the other side, too, for a proper GT. Many of our customers drive GTs all the time, so why not play to those characteristics?”

But Flewitt is not about to design a rival to the Bentley Continental GT. He said: “It would still be a carbonfibre mid-engined car and, without doubt, the most sporting GT on the market. The 570GT was a clear derivative of the 570S and I loved it but, to be honest, the differences were quite small.

“So we will do another car in that place but more differentiated, with a more dedicated focus on the characteristics you want in a GT and a more distinct bodystyle.” When asked whether a GT would create its own model line alongside the existing Super Series and Sport Series lines, Flewitt replied: “That would be an opportunity for us. I would like to pitch it uniquely. I’ve thought about it a lot, so watch this space.”

Flewitt’s thoughts on the 2+2 are less clearly defined and he confirmed it’s not part of the existing Track 25 plan to deliver 18 new models by 2025. But he said: “I wouldn’t rule out one day doing at least a 2+2. It’s McLaren looks to expand line-up with stand-alone GT McLaren boss has spoken about creating a separate GT model line, hybrids, solid-state battery versions and maybe even the firm’s first 2+2 doable, so we’ll look at it.” The biggest headache is likely to be packaging rear seats and the engine all within the wheelbase. “The car can’t have an enormous wheelbase. It has to stay agile,” said Flewitt.

But he is open about future plans to downsize McLaren’s internal combustion engines as electrification plays an ever more important role. A move to solid-state batteries (“2023 if I’m being optimistic, 2025 being realistic”) is described by Flewitt as “a game changer” that will likely make the packaging of such a car dramatically easier.

McLaren’s first series-production hybrid (excluding the limited-run P1 and Speedtail) will be launched in 2021, with the electrics working with the engine to power the rear axle. Flewitt said he has no choice but to adopt hybrids because global emissions legislation means a company with no small cars to help reduce the average fleet CO2 would simply be banned from sale in large parts of the world without it.

“That said, while I don’t like the 40kg weight gain, it does allow us more power, better response and more linear performance response,” he said. “What’s more, you will be staggered by the CO2 output. I can’t give you numbers, but think of a supercar with the same CO2 as a Fiesta.”

In time, McLaren will also introduce an electrically driven front axle at a likely weight penalty of 120kg, but this will massively improve traction and therefore performance, especially in the wet, as well as provide a huge boost in energy regeneration, meaning it should be able to maintain peak performance even when electricity stored while plugged in has been used.

Flewitt has also spoken of the LT version of the 720S, which, he said, will come to market at the end of 2020. He confirmed the power gain will be “at least” as much as that which turned the 570S into the 600LT, so expect a minimum of 750hp. But he said his engineers are struggling to lose the 100kg now expected of LT models “because we made the 720S as light as we could in the first place”. He reckoned they’ll get close to the three-figure weight drop but perhaps not all the way.

McLaren is also battling to find an aesthetically pleasing way to incorporate the 600LT’s trademark top-exit exhausts with the active rear aerodynamics the car will use. “I’ve seen three proposals so far and rejected them all…”

Nor has he decided whether to specify a production limit as he did with the 675LT. “Part of me wants to keep it open as Porsche does with its GT models, but we may limit it to something like 750 of each [Coupé and Spider].”

Flewitt wants a more differentiated GT than the 570GT. A McLaren GT would still be mid-engined and carbonfibre. 

I think there is space for a proper GT model. Many of our customers drive GTs all the time.

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