By on January 19, 2018

2017 McLaren 570S yellow - Image: McLaren

Let’s take a moment to consider how ubiquitous sport utility vehicles and crossovers have become. They are, quite literally, everywhere, and reason for this is that they’ve morphed into a jack-of-all-trades type of automobile.

The antiquated definition of SUV included words like “rugged” and “off-road.” But modern examples really only need to ride higher than your typical sedan to qualify. That, along with the segment’s current trendiness, has helped to make such vehicles exceeding popular. So popular, in fact, that practically every automaker is trying to build one to improve sales.

This includes supercar manufacturers. Lamborghini intentionally priced the Urus as an “entry-level” model to ensure volume — and you had better believe Aston Martin and Ferrari will do the same with their upcoming crossovers. Porsche has two SUVs and the more-affordable Macan became its best-selling model last year. However, there is one performance brand that says it has no place for such a vehicle: McLaren. 

“I’m not the first person to point out an SUV is neither particularly sporty or utilitarian,” McLaren’s chief designer, Dan Parry-Williams, told Top Gear in a recent interview.

The U.K.-based company says it intends to maintain a performance-driven strategy through 2022. It is dumping over £1 billion into the research and development of 12 new models, but not a single one will be an SUV. Why? Because McLaren says the very concept of a sport utility vehicle clashes with the brand’s motto of “everything for a reason.”

“It’s not ‘everything for a reason,’ unless the reason is to clutter up the streets,” Parry-Williams explained in a rather savage burn.

While McLaren could always change its mind, like Ferrari did, it won’t be able to until after 2022. Executives have confirmed all planned models will use platforms that would make building a crossover next to impossible.

[Image: McLaren]


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23 Comments on “McLaren Confirms SUVs Aren’t for Supercar Manufacturers...”

  • avatar

    Ferrari has maintained at least up until Serg and Montezemolo butted heads and Montezemolo left that “entry level” Ferraris were the used cars.

    I’m not a huge fan of Ferrari on anything past the F40 but it just seems like the brand generally recognized as one of the most prestigious in the world seems to be slowly falling from grace.

    Some time ago I read that Sergio wanted to develop a modular platform that they could build multiple configurations off of and that just felt wrong as well.

    I posted that comment (not here) and got chided for being a hippie socialist when I lamented that eventually capitalism seems to ruin everything in the rush to squeeze ever more money out of something.

    • 0 avatar

      Not capitalism so much as shareholders. Quarterly reports are the root of all evil.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      The money/sales are driven by those with the cash, as in the buying public. Why blame the manufacturers for following what makes them money?

      • 0 avatar

        IMO eventually it just cheapens the brand to the point of irrelevance. Sergio is doing to Ferrari what Ford no doubt would have done had it acquired the road car business from Enzo.

        I can agree with McLaren on this front at least and like McLaren Ferrari is one of the few companies that could remain faithful to the sports car only formula and do just fine and the same with bespoke models rather than the a high end K-car if that ever comes to pass.

    • 0 avatar

      Ferrari is not a performance car company,and honestly hasn’t been for a long time. It’s a status brand, like Beats headphones and Gucci clothes. Their management is doing what it should-responding to the marketplace.

      McLaren makes fast cars,but that’s about it for business commonality between themselves and Ferrari. They’re not a status brand yet,so of course they can cater to the very small niche automotive enthusiast hardcore group and still turn a profit.But give it a decade. Once McLaren scales up as a business they’ll have to either stay niche (and watch profits drop) or grow the business ( say hello to the McLaren CUV!).

  • avatar

    These announcements always come about 15 months before the official press release announcing their upcoming SUV. Rolls Royce, Ferrari, McLaren.

  • avatar

    McLaren specifically reached out to TTAC in 2015 to categorically state that they will not make a SUV or crossover.

    “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.”

    • 0 avatar

      Tell them we want a stick

      • 0 avatar

        I’ll take it with CVT if they make something I can afford.

        • 0 avatar

          The comment about them not making a SUV was ultimately in reaction to my question about a McLaren regular people could afford. The answer is that a car company has to sell tens of thousands of something like the Miata just to break even. McLaren has the capacity to build 4,000 units a year. Also, their existing customers don’t want them to build anything inexpensive because it would diminish the exclusivity of the brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        As an avid sports car enthusiast I have driven countless vehicles of varying performance levels. The manual transmission in the high caliber vehicle such as the McClaren is, call it what you will, ancient, antiquated regardless, old and outdated. Keeping the drive line engaged under throttle is more efficient then disengaging and re-engaging, such as with the manual transmission. Why would you want such a high performance vehicle with modern, high tech components to be held back by a standard shift transmission when there are better components on the market?
        Is it ‘fun’ to be able to shift the gears manually? Absolutely. But there are paddle shifters that allow you to do the same thing, only more efficient and obviously quicker.

        • 0 avatar

          If they are going to have a “Sport Series” underneath the “Super” & “Ultimate” ones why not offer a manual on the “Sport” versions?

          • 0 avatar

            My daily driver is a Honda Fit with a stick and I enjoy driving with a clutch. I’ve also had the opportunity to spend time with a couple of McLarens and I can say that, at least for me, adding a clutch would not make those cars any sportier. Those are very high performance vehicles and I’d rather have one less thing for my brain to think about when driving something with ~600 hp.

  • avatar
    Jeremiah Mckenna

    Sounds like someone is sticking to their roots as well as their word.
    I also don’t see McLaren losing a lot of customers to the CUV/cross over crowd any way.

  • avatar

    McLaren is the level you have to get to before leaving behind the craven marketing-driven branding of all car makers below them. All the other luxury/sports brands, up to and including Bentley, were happy to corrupt their branding just to chase sales. Which certainly is not what they claim their brands are about.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      Chasing sales is the name of the business game. What good does it do to make products that your customers don’t want to buy? McLaren has a smaller customer base, so they can afford to be a niche brand.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I assume the number of people who are McLaren customers who don’t already own some form of Land or Range Rover to be vanishingly small.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    You can’t make a “brick on Popsicle sticks” a cornering demon. Looking at you, Ferrari,Porsche, and Maserati. A Bentley SUV? A bald cash grab. Add Mercedes to that column too. BMW X series? Reference “brick on Popsicle sticks” as you try to justify “superior handling”. OK, I don’t like the X series, not a bit. Cadillac/Lincoln/Lexus? Leather wrapped heated/cooled seats varieties of their GM/FORD/Toyota brothers. Their lesser sibling were built to be SUV’s; haul boats, carry dogs and/or shotguns. Most of us are fine with that. McLaren understands supercars; ergo no SUV. Morgan might build you a shooting brake. No, it won’t have a lift kit. It might come with Purdy or Holland and Holland shotguns.

  • avatar

    Mercedes has always had some utility and the cars – other than the AMG branded cars – were never performance driving machines. They were good at getting from a to b in comfort but not really grin inducing on a curvy road.

    BMW no longer cares to be the “ultimate driving machine” as they have moved consistently more Mercedes like in the last two decades.

    SUVs fit right in at Bentley since they have always made big cars for people to be driven in so why not a sport utility?

    Lamborghini is the outrageous brand and if they can’t recreate the outrageousness of the LM-002 then they shouldn’t be building one.

    Jeep, LR and such making high performance road going SUVs is a pure mee too money grab.

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