The first Sports Series model will launch next month
McLaren has previewed the model in a new official video
Power will come from a detuned version of McLaren's 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine
Cars in the Sports Series are set to cost from around £130,000
The Sports Series should come with over 500bhp
The Sports Series sits underneath McLaren's Super Series range
The Sports Series features rear light clusters similar to those on the P1
The car's front-end design appears different to that of any other McLaren model
At least one model in the Sports Series should be destined for the Asian market
McLaren could follow convention by naming its Sports Series models according to their power outputs
The initial coupé will be joined by Spider and GT versions
McLaren has slowly been revealing the Sports Series under its 'Black Swan Moments' banner
This McLaren preview image shows off the Sports Series' carbon tub
The Sports Series will spawn new grand tourer and racing versions
The Sports Series has recently been spotted testing
The Sports Series sits below the 650S in McLaren's range
The mule reveals dramatic side sculpting to the Sports Series
A detuned V8 engine is tipped to power the Sports Series range
The entry-level Sports Series model is tipped to cost from £125k
McLaren could look to make a version of the Sports Series the most practical model in its line-up
The exhausts of the new McLaren sit at the bottom of the car rather than in the middle
The doors used by this Sports Series model are similar to those used by the P1
McLaren has previewed the new Sports Series with official images
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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