McLaren Will Not Go Further Down Market From the 540S

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
mclaren will not go further down market from the 540s

The new McLaren 570S

It sounds funny to say a car that costs almost $185,000 is a move downmarket, but the new McLaren 570S introduced at the recent New York Auto Show, and the detuned 540S version of the same “Sport Series” chassis (~$150K), are exactly that. The first McLarens to cost less than a quarter of a million dollars are aimed squarely at the Porsche 911. Since I’ve always been a best bang for the buck kind of a guy, whether I’m talking cars or stereo equipment, I wondered if McLaren might be interested in using their resources to bring their kind of high performance to an everyman’s sports car. So I asked Wayne Bruce, McLaren’s global director of communications, if there might be a sub-six-figure McLaren some day.

I’m guessing that if I had a dollar for every time Bruce has heard a Batman joke referencing his name, I could probably afford even more than one new “entry level” carbon fiber McLaren. In any case, it’s an interesting coincidence he has a last name that’s the same as the first name of the company founder, racer and constructor Bruce McLaren. Speaking of carbon fiber, Bruce said it was just one reason why the company has no interest in making cars for the masses. He said that the company’s carbon fiber technology simply can’t be implemented at such a low price point.

Understand that McLaren is a relatively tiny company. They don’t have resources the likes of BMW, which is putting over a billion dollars into the supply chain for the CFRP parts used in the i3 and i8. While the i cars at BMW are primarily seen by outsiders as an effort to make electric cars, much of the program is aimed at reducing the cost of making car parts and cars out of carbon fiber.

The only sub $100,000 car being sold today with carbon fiber architecture is the Alfa Romeo 4C – starting at about $54,000 – though it doesn’t have a completely carbon fiber unibody. It has a carbon fiber passenger cell, with front and rear aluminum subframes attached to the central tub.

Because it’s located on the bottom of the dihedrally operating door, you can’t see the logo for the Bowers & Wilkins audio system while driving, but you will see it every time you get in the 570S.

Bruce said McLaren is now profitable and they wouldn’t risk their profitability to make the immense investment needed to make a mass market car. A “McLaren Miata” would require economies of scale far beyond the company’s abilities.

Though he didn’t use the word “cheapen”, he indicated that a mass market McLaren would not be good for the brand; their current customers expect a certain level of exclusivity. In 2013, McLaren delivered about 1,400 cars. Bruce said the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking has the capacity to build about 4,000 units a year and they anticipate reaching that limit once their new Sport models swing into full production. He continued that number would likely be the ceiling for McLaren production and they have no plans to expand the capacity of the Woking facility or to build another factory.

I didn’t ask Mr. Bruce if McLaren, like other companies associated with high levels of performance or luxury (Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Maserati and Lotus), is also considering some kind of CUV.

Photography by Ronnie Schreiber. For more photos of the vehicles in this post, please go to Cars In Depth.

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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6 of 9 comments
  • The design of the Mclaren F1/LM offered you THREE SEATS, better balancing, better handling and a far superior experience. How are these new "McLarens" better? They should have NEVER abandoned central seating in their flagship model. I look at these cars and see nothing worth wanting. I'd rather buy a Lamborghini for this money.

    • See 3 previous
    • TonyJZX TonyJZX on May 05, 2015

      @Corey Lewis I live near the McLaren service centre so MP4s arent uncommon here, esp. the orange Seeing an F1 in the flesh is likely to be a lifetime event for most people Btw. I like the 540s... it is more car than I would ever conceivably be able to ever use. I even like its overall look but damn those are ugly weird looking headlights and tail lamps.

  • Runs_on_h8raide Runs_on_h8raide on May 05, 2015

    If I were a 1%'er I'd totally rock one of the McLarens. Interesting to see the 540S starting out at 150k. If I recall, didn't Acura throw out a number saying the new NSX would be $150k? I'll have to do some digging. edit: Yup...150k Hmm...quite interesting given the McLaren-Honda F1 partnership!!

  • Zipper69 The Bronco is a soft option and has the style that the Jeep lacks. The actual ability of the respective vehicles is irrelevant, they "compete" on image alone. The Bronco is new and trendy and production can't keep pace with demand
  • MaintenanceCosts Will the Bronco have a four-motor configuration a la Rivian? That seems to me like the right approach for an EV off-roader. Enables lots of neat tricks.
  • Lou_BC ERay? A southern model will be the BillyRay.
  • Lou_BC I've never used a car buying plan service. My Costco membership did get me 1,000 cash back on my last truck.
  • Jeff S I can understand 8 cars is a bit much unless you are a serious collector. I always loved the Challenger when it first came out and now. I don't need a car like this but I am glad it exists at least for 1 more year. If I had a choice between a Mustang, a Camaro, and a Challenger I would opt for a Challenger but probably with a V-6 since it has more than enough power for most and I don't need to be burning rubber. Challenger has the classic muscle car looks, more cabin room, and a decent size trunk which makes it very livable for day to day driving and for traveling. The base models of the Dodge Challenger has a 3.6-liter V6 engine that gives you 305 horsepower with 268 lb-ft torque. The car attains 60 mph from a standstill within just 6 seconds, which is quite fast. Even with their base engines, the Challenger and Camaro are lightning-fast. The Camaro reaches 165 mph, while the Challenger can go up to 11 mph faster!