By on May 18, 2015

 

Aston Martin DBX concept

Aston Martin DBX concept

In our post about McLaren having no interest in producing a sports car for the masses, I mentioned I didn’t ask Wayne Bruce, McLaren’s communications director, if the company was considering producing an SUV like many of the other expensive marques. Well, Mr. Bruce read the post and contacted me, saying that he wished I had indeed asked him that question because the answer goes to the heart of what the McLaren brand means to the company and to its customers. Other car companies might be well served to emulate the clarity with which McLaren understands their own brand.

 

"Urusside" by 72Dino - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Urusside.jpg#/media/File:Urusside.jpg

Lamborghini Urus

Mr. Bruce’s title is Global Communications Director and he communicates so well that I’ll reproduce his rather charming email (I like the touch of describing the quintessentially advanced McLaren Technology Centre in Woking as “humble”) in its entirety:

Thank you for contacting me. And do call me Manbat…

Was trying to get back to you about the story you wrote following our chat at NY in which you said you didn’t ask me if we were considering an SUV … like Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Maserati, Lotus, erm … anyone I’ve forgotten?

Well, I wish you had. Because I would have said categorically that we are not. We don’t need to. And we wouldn’t want to.

We don’t need to because we already have a profitable and therefore sustainable business. We showed for the first time together at NY our three product families: Sports Series, Super Series and Ultimate Series. These together set the blueprint for McLaren’s future, a future as we discussed hand crafting sports cars and only sports cars out of our humble facility in Woking, England.

We wouldn’t want to because our passion is making sports cars. It’s what we know. What we do well, I hope you’d agree. And as importantly, it’s what our customers know and love us for.

That question cleared up, I’ll pass on your details to my US based colleague JP to see if he can put you in a 650S.

Very best

Wayne

Note: That last little bit about getting me in a 650S is about the possible loan of a review car, not a purchase. Like they say, champagne tastes and a beer budget.

[Photo credit: “Urusside” by 72Dino – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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17 Comments on “Don’t Expect a McLaren SUV Anytime Soon… Or Ever...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Well you’re certainly in well with McLaren now! It’s nice that he followed up after reading the story. “Manbat,” hah.

  • avatar

    McLaren NEVER should have abandoned central seating in their cars. Those new cars like the MP412 and P1 just aren’t what they could have been.

  • avatar

    Wayne Bruce? Batman’s alter ego on the other side of the planet?

  • avatar

    “Other car companies might be well served to emulate the clarity with which McLaren understands their own brand.”

    I think other companies understand their brands just fine. That’s *why* they’re building SUVs. You’ll notice that buyers of Bentleys and Lamborghinis, for example, often tend to lack the kind of discernment and die-hard fandom that McLaren drivers would have. Bentley already has two models that are halfway mass-produced, and no one bats an eye. These brands’ drivers don’t care about “brand clarity” as it’s insinuated here, and would probably love to see the prevailing virtues of those cars on stilts, so to them, SUVs under these brands—even if they will eventually share their structure and electronics with a $42K Volkswagen—would be well-received. In fact, there’s a newer song by DJ Khaled that contains the lyrics “I’m the one that be rolling up in that Bentley truck”, never mind the fact that there currently *is* no Bentley “truck”, save for the custom SUVs that Bentley made for the Sultan of Brunei in the ’90s.

    All of this is to say that the exotic automakers who’ve decided to add SUVs to their lineups aren’t just jumping onto the craze because it’s cool. Rather, they’re giving their customer bases more of what they want. What’s more, I don’t even think that SUVs in and of themselves betray these brands’ values, even for Aston Martin.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      And weren’t those Bentley trucks just a really well-trimmed Range Rover with different letters on the front?

      (And they looked very piecemeal and ghastly.)

      http://news.boldride.com/2013/07/bentleys-first-suv-built-in-1994-for-a-sultan/32927/

      They also made this, omgz.
      http://flatoutcombr.c.presscdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/bentley-hun-3.jpg
      http://www.icarinfo.net/?car=bentley-hunaudieres-2

      And this disgusting Java Cabrio.
      http://www.rrsilverspirit.com/modellen/best/Bentley%20Java%20conv%20LV.jpg

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    McLaren can maintain this focus because they are

    – incredibly wealthy
    and
    – incredibly lucky

    The luck aspect isn’t to take away from their excellence, but it is just to say they existed primarily as a profitable, somewhat successful F1 enterprise with only some collabos and 1 car to their name. It just so happens that road car was, and IMO to a large degree still is, the greatest driver’s car of all time with a shadow that still looms over even the latest crop of hypercar flagships. I would buy an F1 over the P1, LaFerrari or 918 anyday. So they have that looming legacy, which is huge, and apparently had the cash on hand to develop an all new supercar.

    Again, not to take away from them, because all their cars are excellent. However, this is not some fly by night operation. Maybe they created their own luck through excellence and shrewdness… that is a very likely scenario. But compare them to Lotus, for example, who is also similarly focused, but without the same level of legacy, or the means to enter such a profitable market seemingly on a whim. IMO the Elise is an even more important car than the F1, and yet Lotus has been in dire straits over the last decade.

    So I think citing McLaren’s focus of brand as a driver behind its success is putting the cart before the horse. They have the luxury of being able to have such a narrowly focused brand by way of their previous fortunes and legacies.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “I would buy an F1 over the P1, LaFerrari or 918 anyday”

      So would I. But the fact is, you can buy a P1, LaFerrari, and 918 for the price of an F1. Heck, you can probably buy 2 of each. Maybe even three.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Ironically, there was practically no demand for the F1 when it was in production. When it was all said and done, they were only able to sell 71 road cars over a period of seven years. Maybe this is why nobody makes the cars that enthusiasts say they want. Chances are the reason they’re so valuable today is at least 90% down to their being so rare.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “A man’s got to know his limitations.” -Harry Callahan

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    Mclaren has a few things going for it.

    Ferrari and their dealers are asshats to deal with, you actualy have toi have self loathign to work with thewn and hand over $$ and the cars(despite their paper specs) have become trinkets for fashionistas.

    Lambos are audis in drag, dynamicaly not so great and heavy, cool for the trophy wife crowd.

    So Mclaren are greta to deal with, happy to seell cars without BS and had the halo of the F1.

    It would have been good if Mclaren had focussed on the superlative driving experience offered by the F1, instead of offerign a really fast swoopy GT. The newer oferings may show great paper specs, and even be fast on track, but like many a modern are meh to drive in almost any other context.

    The steering is well Ok, hardley 997 gt3 quality which is a modern benchmark. The suspesion other than in track mode feels diconected and floaty, regardless of its “perfomance” metric.

    The motor, yeah it sounds like an aircooled 911 at idle which is cool, but the sound is really a noisy blare at revs, it does have turbo lag esp on hot day, its not particularily smooth, the power inconsistent as turbos tend to be when hot. In short the car does not feel like a lithe livign thing, and no one in this price range cares about c02 emissions.

    The CF tub,minimalism of the interior, the way the seats are monuted close to the centreline, these are all gret features and make a ferrari feel like an antique. There is lots of clever thinkign at Mclaren, but they mised the design and passion part. The car needs to feel alive, the steering benchmark a Gt3, the motor its got power but thats it.

    The 570s looks great, maybe the conventional suspension will be an improvement in feel. Hopefully the steering is there. Since its a turbo there is enough low down tq to offer us a stick. Maclrens should be drivers cars not paper spec cars.

    The problem with the newer Mclarens imo is they were built by engineers against a spec. Sportscars need passion DNA, the F1 had it, murry was driver.

    Take on 458 motor, Gt3 steering and a 570s body, then you really have something seminal.

    Yes an elise is the seminal car to drive, but many wont go for its small size rc car build and bucket of bolts sounding engine. Mclaren shoudl be the upscale version of all that is good at lotus.

    On the positive Mclaren si elaring fast, they have a great boidy designer now and their own design langauge. Hopefully the add excitement to the machines.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    McLaren makes about four cars per day. Toyota builds more cars in two hours than McLaren will build all year.

    McLaren doesn’t need to diversify because it hardly builds anything at all. It cannot be compared to higher volume automakers, i.e. just about all of the other ones.

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