Look Out Lotus: McLaren Prepares Hypercar Flagship

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
look out lotus mclaren prepares hypercar flagship

The reboot at Lotus has been much discussed in the motoring press, but amidst all the talk of styling and strategy, one of the brand’s major competitive issues has been widely overlooked. Lotus’s strategy is, in essence, to build up its brand to the level of a Porsche or Ferrari… in other words, reviving the UK’s position in the brutally competitive world of European sportscars. But just as Lotus is eying a return to greatness, targeting the top-tier of the sportscar market, another UK competitor with (at least) equally-burnished credentials is making is own play for a slice of the high-performance road car market: McLaren. Unlike Lotus, McLaren’s racing roots aren’t just deep, but are recent as well; the brand is rebuilding its legacy on the strength of its Formula One racing heritage as much as its legendary F1 road car. And unlike Lotus, McLaren has already delivered one of the more intriguing road cars in recent memory, the MP4-12C, which is lighter and faster than Ferrari’s lauded 458, while breaking new technical ground with its carbon fiber monocoque and adaptive hydraulic suspension.

And now Autocar reports that McLaren is following up its Mp4-12C with a limited-edition flagship hypercar boasting 800 HP from a 5 liter V8 that should hit 100 MPH in 5.5 seconds. With a 2014 launch date, the “Mega Mac” should hit the market just after Lotus introduces its first, rapidly-developed sportscars… and make Lotus’s task of capturing the position of UK’s top sportscar brand much, much harder. Can Lotus make up the difference with branding alone? We’ll sure enjoy watching the battle unfold, as nerdy, product-led, race-tech-happy McLaren takes on splashy, branding-led, glamor-happy Lotus.

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  • Tstag Tstag on May 14, 2011

    And that's the major flaw in Lotus's plans. Look at the supercar/ prestige sportscar market and you see that it's increasingly dominated by the likes of: Bugatti, Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, Lamborgini, Mclaren All making great cars. Then there's the likes of Audi, Pagani and even Nissan having ago. And it get's worse, Jaguar is now planning it's very own hyper car. So where does that leave Lotus? I think it leaves them in trouble. They need to make cars that can compete with the new Mclaren with none of the traditional Lotus problems like poor ergonomics. This is the reason why a lot of Lotus fans worry at the move away from lower end sportscars. Can Lotus really compete at this level?

  • Willman Willman on May 14, 2011

    "Look Out Lotus: McLaren Prepares Hypercar Flagship" (phantom subhead)-which will have styling so bland, it will be instantly forgettable as a mid-90's retread of a 430/Muricelago/SaleenS7 lovechild. -and it will waltz immediately out of the public eye, only to be remembered in vague notions by hard-core-gearhead-anglophiles, all 99 of them. @Tstag: Dominated? ... "Dominated" by Bugatti and McLaren? -erm, keep dreaming. Except for episodes of Top Gear, Bugattis and Macs may as-well be Unicorn turds. -No; scratch that. RARER than Unicorn Turds. Try Instead: Porsche, Audi, Nissan, Ferrari, Lambo, and Aston; in that order. Where I live, [not southern california or Greenwich] Porsches are absolutely everywhere. They are like dirty, half-full, used soda bottles tossed lazily in the general direction of a highschool trashcan. Even more shocking, I have personally seen about 7-apiece of Lambos and Fezzas in average travel around my poky little county/2. ~5 GTRs, 3 R8s, 2 Astons. Bugatti & McLaren???!? -You would have a better chance of sniffing a specific fart in a Cat-5 hurricane. If Lotus does manage the miracle of getting their house in-order, their new designs should pretty-much crush every thing out there save Lambos, Astons, and the Maserati GT.

  • Probert Probert on May 14, 2011

    Lotus was never in the same league as Farrari etc so they're not planning a return to anything. I find the Evora to be a far more interesting, and certainly more beautiful car than the Mclaren. To make a superb car for a quarter mill American is not a big deal - to make an elegant device like the Evora for shorter cash is more compelling. What Lotus is doing is throwing away its heritage and just leveraging its name.

  • Tosh Tosh on May 16, 2011

    Actually, I expect there is a world-wide market for half-decent mid-engine sports cars powered by Toyota engines and transmissions. Baby steps, Lotus! Of course, the bigwigs at Lotus HQ are going to talk big, as that's what big-wigs do....