It seems that McLaren will be taking a different route to the Ferrari Purosangue.
If you type the terms 'McLaren' and 'SUV' into the search bar at the top of this page, you can find stories from as far back as 2013 that show McLaren was vehemently opposed to the idea of creating an SUV. This decision was reaffirmed many times over the following years, with the most recent arriving shortly before the pandemic disrupted everyone's financial planning. But in October of last year, McLaren officially teased something taller than any car that has come out of Woking before. That was revealed the following month as an electric off-road racer that would never be offered to the public. This indicated a number of things, and there's now more evidence to suggest that McLaren is following Ferrari down the Purosangue's path, albeit without an emotive engine as its party piece.
For a start, the electric off-roader proved that McLaren is willing to compromise its stance on SUVs. And why wouldn't it? The British automaker has been struggling financially for a long time, and rivals like Aston Martin and Lamborghini have sold boatloads of lifted luxury vehicles that influencer moms with designer manicures have lapped up. The electric off-road racer could also provide valuable insights into energy management and deployment, and considering that the Artura hybrid has been delayed so much, this sort of information could be very valuable for an SUV in the zero-emission future. It's unclear if the McLaren SUV will be a hybrid or a full EV, but its expected arrival date suggests the latter (more on that shortly).
Another hint that McLaren is definitely going to build a roadgoing SUV arrived in April of this year when the automaker announced its new CEO, Michael Leiters. He took over from Mike Flewitt, who resigned in October.
Flewitt was always very vocal about McLaren not building an SUV, while Leiters oversaw the creation and development of the Porsche Cayenne and Macan SUVs, both of which have raked fortunes in for Zuffenhausen's premier automaker. He then moved to Ferrari in 2014 as chief technical officer, which meant he would have been directly involved with the Purosangue's transition from wild idea to concept to prototype. Why would McLaren hire the man if not to help create a successful SUV?
However, we still have some way to go before a McLaren SUV is shown in any form. For one thing, Leiters will only arrive in Woking next month.
Furthermore, McLaren has not yet officially confirmed any sort of production SUV, but Autocar sources report that there is "an appetite for the idea." That said, McLaren reportedly wants its SUV to be as much like its sports cars as possible by showcasing a compact footprint, low weight, and advanced aero. According to these sources, McLaren will wait for smaller, lighter, and more energy-dense solid-state battery technology to reach the market, which is only likely to happen around 2028. Thus, it seems reasonable to assume that McLaren is already hard at work figuring out what a McLaren SUV should look and feel like and will present its finished product just before the end of the decade.
Yet another hint that the famed British automaker is working on multiple new offerings that stray from the typical McLaren recipe arrived in October of last year when CarBuzz uncovered three new names that were listed as trademark applications. These were Solus, Aeron, and Aonic. We'd put our money on an electric SUV getting an unusual name like Solus, while the other two likely refer to future sports cars that may be electrified follow-ups to the Artura.
Mclaren apparently has the name, the seemingly ideal CEO for its future is coming soon, and the technology will arrive soon enough. In case we weren't clear, these factors all but confirm the impending announcement of a McLaren SUV. With emission regulations soon to change the landscape, an all-electric powertrain makes the most sense.
That said, this is McLaren we're talking about. We'll manage our expectations until we see something tangible.