McLaren's entry-level supercar will be priced from £130,000 when it goes on sale after the New York motor show in April
5 March 2015

The first model in McLaren's new Sports Series will make its debut at the New York motor show next month, and has been previewed with an official video from the British manufacturer.

Cars in the Sports Series will sit underneath the newly created Super Series - which includes the 625C, 650S and 675LT - in McLaren's range.

This 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.

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. 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.

The new range's exact designations remain secret, but it’s understood they will follow the pattern established by the 650S. If the engine output were 550bhp, coupé and spider models model would therefore be called 550S, and there would probably be a detuned model called 525C (for Club). 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 is designed to be McLaren's most accessible model range, with the cars formerly codenamed P13. Entry-level versions will be priced from £130,000. McLaren is aiming to challenge rivals such as top-end Porsche 911s, BMW's i8 and the Mercedes-AMG GT.

The power output is still secret, but it is understood that the car will use a version of McLaren’s twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8 making “well over” 500bhp.

Its weight and dimensions are likely to mirror those of the 650S, but it won’t have that car’s interconnected suspension or active aerodynamics. The Sports Series should have a 0-60mph time of less than 4.0sec and a top speed of at least 180mph.   

The new model completes the three-tier supercar range promised five years ago when the first of the current generation of cars, the 12C (now superseded by the 650S), was unveiled.

Once the new Sports Series is established, McLaren aims to build 2000 to 2500 of them a year. Combined with production of the 650S and 675LT, this means that total factory output should hit the 4000-unit annual volume that the firm believes is key to its long-term viability.

In future, McLaren wants an entry-level model, a core range (currently the 650S) and an ultimate car such as the P1. By 2016 the P1 will have run its course and McLaren will be deciding what next to build for its super-rich customers.

“We’re launching the Sports Series at the New York show next April,” said CEO Mike Flewitt. “We’ll make our first deliveries to customers in the fourth quarter of the year. Like our other models, this one will have a higher power-to-weight ratio and better performance figures than any rival.”

The Sports Series will use a unique version of McLaren’s all-carbonfibre chassis tub, with improved cabin access, because engineers believe cars in this bracket are more likely to be used as daily drivers. It has thinner sills and butterfly doors that hinge differently from those of the 650S in order to provide a wider opening. 

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.

McLaren currently has 68 dealers worldwide but wants another 40 or so by the time the GT hits the market in 2016. “We’ll need more dealers to cope with a bigger demand,” said Flewitt, “although our aim is never to grow so large that our customers lose the feeling of being part of a family. We see this close contact as an important McLaren differentiator; owners tell us how much they value it.”

McLaren sold a total of 1600 vehicles in 2014, including 248 examples of the P1 hypercar, an increase of 21% on 2013.

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Our Verdict

McLaren 650S
The McLaren 650S is much faster and more exciting to drive than the regular 12C

The latest addition to McLaren's line-up may be based on the 12C, but this is a whole new ball-game

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Comments
10

29 December 2014
I like McLaren a lot and even had the pleasure of a drive in a 12C but this car is too close to the 12C/650S. It just seems a bit pointless. A smaller and even cheaper car to compete with the rest of the 911 range might be good but may also be seen as diluting the brand.

29 December 2014
McLaren is in a tough spot. The 650S killed off the 12C even though at first it was supposed to stay on. The new Sport Series is supposed to take it to the Porsche Turbo. The problem is that the GT3 is already nipping at the heels of the 650S- without turbos and wall-to-wall carbon. How do you produce a less powerful version of the 650S to compete with the more powerful brother of the GT3- the Porsche Turbo. And without looking like the 650S but using its important bits. A classic case of being between a rock and a hard place. Last but not least Porsche is not sitting idly by and is about to introduce new powerplants next year.... in other words McLaren is aiming at a moving target.

GeToD

29 December 2014
I think the exterior mirrors on the prototype which echo the P1 are a step in the wrong direction. The P1 is a wide hypercar and needed mirrors more outboard for the driver to see more clearly. These are a nod to that car however the 650 has more sporting exterior mirrors and the do not ruin the lines down the side of the car.Look at the new Alfa 4C those mirrors sprout out like afterthoughts and ruin that car for me. This new McLaren needs to have its on identity and not use too many cues from the range, other than those it has to due to its structural build. Then we may not see it as a " baby " (I hate that analogy) P1 or 650S but as a new entry level McLaren which is what it is supposed to be.

29 December 2014
In order to compete with the P Turbo and Turbo S the 0-60 has to be under 3,not "under 4" For Pete's sake a TTRS with DSG is 3.5 and that is the Mk 2 ! Even a GT3 is 3.0 So to do that it needs 4WD,so is it? Saw a recent video of a P Turbo S "Cabrio "blowing away" a GTR. F Type R Coupe is already running mid 3's without AWD,so the new AWD should be close to 3. Lovely car I am sure but for 130K it has to do the numbers!

Madmac

5 March 2015
Madmac, It shows that you have never in your life driven a sports car. Chances are high you are too young even for a diving license. Else you would not equal performance with 0-60 times. Grow up, get over your silly humber fetish, learn to expand your vision of what makes a sports car great. Roughly any motor bike over £5000 will "humiliate" your darlings. Does that make them better sports cars?

29 December 2014
Even with the Super Series and the 650s production full tilt, McLaren would be making a rather exclusive 4000 cars a year. Porsche probably produces that much in a day given the success of their SUVs. More contrast than comparison!

21 February 2015
You can hardly excuse McLaren from competing with Porsche on grounds of production numbers, when it is their own CEO who is quoted as stating that they will outclass rivals in performance numbers. Either they are competing or they are not. But at least the P13 is a better looking car than the P1, though on the few photos here not so much as the 12C.

5 March 2015
All three McLaren cars are styled around what is in my opinion an extremely clumsily styled front end. The 650S looks like three different cars in one and then you throw the LT into it... It's a bit of a mess. At least Astons looked amazing before they all started to look the same. Saying that I still absolutely love the P1.

5 March 2015
I can't see where that "everyday driver" role is going to fit in. If all they have is a small "boot" at the front then it's not going to work. The 911 is compromised by only having the rear seats to throw extra luggage at - the Cayman is much better in that and lots of other respects - and in a lot of cities leaving a briefcase on the backseat just equals broken glass and gone case. Hope I'm wrong but the McLaren range looks as if it is squeezing itself into a corner.

5 March 2015
I like what McLaren is doing and think their cars, for the most part, are impressive. Particularly their interiors, which I think are absolutely brilliant. But I really think that they need to expand their engine range a little bit. I understand that developing a new engine is a huge undertaking and McLaren doesn't have the resources of VAG. They don't even need to develop a brand new one from scratch, just change it up a bit. Maybe chop two cylinders off the block and make it a twin turbo V6. Or maybe use a supercharger for the lower output engines. Or, best yet, increase bore and/or stroke a bit and try a naturally aspirated version with a 9k+ RPM redline in the above mentioned "GT3" variant...

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