McLaren’s entry-level Sports Series models have entered the final stages of testing ahead of their planned unveiling at the New York motor show next month. Prices for the line-up are expected to start at about £140,000.
These latest spy pictures show Sports Series models testing in convoy with the recently-revealed 675LT and a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta.
Reports from McLaren customer forums have already implied the New York car has been dubbed 570S. If that’s true, and if the car’s name follows McLaren convention in referring to its power output in PS, the 570S should get around 560bhp from its 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine.
Like all other McLarens, models in the Sports Series range will be mid-engined and based on a carbonfibre tub.
The Sports Series range will eventually encompass three body styles, with the coupé being joined by an open-top Spider and also a more spacious GT version, which will still be very fast but specifically aimed at long-distance touring.
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There is also growing speculation that McLaren will launch track-focused derivatives of its vehicles, led by the McLaren 657LT revealed at the Geneva motor show.
There would probably also be a detuned model for the asian market, joining the 625C. This model is expected to be unveiled at the Shanghai motor show three weeks after New York.
McLaren is also understood to be planning a track-only GT3 version of the Sports Series to be raced by customer teams. It believes there are now so many credible race contenders that the new car needs a track presence to achieve visibility.
Mules for the Sports Series have been spotted testing as far back as 2013, with early prototypes wearing modified 12C bodywork. The Sports Series shares no panels with any other McLaren and has unique glasshouse styling, but its LED headlights are in the shape of McLaren’s badge. It lacks the 650S’s sophisticated suspension, but engineers have worked hard on its capabilities on both road and track.
The cars’ debut means McLaren can at last offer models in each of the categories it has identified: Sports Series (the forthcoming ‘5’ family), Super Series (650S and the 675LT) and Ultimate Series (P1, P1 GTR and their future siblings). The 12C, which McLaren said would continue in production, has been dropped because buyers prefer the newer models.
The latest video preview issued by McLaren is understood to show the coupé variant in testing. New details revealed include the LED headlights and rear light clusters inspired by the P1 hypercar, while the front-end design appears undisguised for the first time. The front sits very low to the ground and sports a different aerodynamic package to that seen on McLaren’s current cars.
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“We’ve been working at this plan since the company began,” said CEO Mike Flewitt. “The only car we didn’t plan and agree is the P1 GTR, which is a track-only model we’ll sell to existing P1 owners. Everything we do in future will fit into this structure.”
The debut of the Sports Series cars will bring another jump in McLaren production, said Flewitt, but he insisted the company is “about exclusivity, not volume”. McLaren expects to sell around 1700 to 1800 cars this year, but output will rise beyond 4000 when the Sports Series is established.
“We should peak at about 4000 units when the market is mature,” said Flewitt. McLaren currently sells its cars through 72 dealers worldwide and expects to build that to 100.
Meanwhile, the company has finished building its 375 P1s, will complete 40 P1 GTRs (orders closed last week) and is turning its attention to its next Ultimate Series car.“I’ve always said we won’t want to make a P1-and-a-bit,” Flewitt said. “The next Ultimate Series McLaren has to take a very significant step over what we have.
“There are several directions we could take. One would be finding ways to get more weight out of the car’s structure. Another would be to take advantage of more power-dense battery packs if they became available. And there’s always the promise of better aerodynamics and better software. But it could take 10 years. After all, the leap from F1 to P1 took 20.”