15 December 2004

McLaren and Mercedes-Benz have put plans for a mid-engined Ferrari F430 rival on hold amid a shake-up of the German company’s forthcoming model line-up. New Mercedes boss Eckhard Cordes has ordered a full review of the company’s future product strategy as it bids to improve quality and drive down costs. Every all-new car is said to be under scrutiny and the ‘baby’ McLaren, codenamed P8, has been affected because it is seen as a niche car compared to its stablemates.

The P8 was conceived as a mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive sister to the £313,000 Mercedes SLR McLaren coupé (right), powered by a new 6.3-litre V8 engine developed by Merc’s performance arm AMG. Aimed squarely at the F430 and Lamborghini Gallardo, the two-seater was expected to cost around £150,000 and to feature advanced carbonfibre monocoque construction.

Although some sources have suggested that the project has been shelved altogether, McLaren insists that the car has merely been delayed beyond its anticipated 2007 launch date. ‘We can confirm that Mercedes-Benz and McLaren have jointly taken the difficult decision to freeze the development of P8,’ said a company spokesperson. ‘After successful completion of the concept development, both companies felt it was prudent to put the project on hold due to the challenges currently faced by the global automotive industry.’

Production of the SLR – currently running 50 per cent higher than planned, according to McLaren – will not be affected by the move.

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