When the new model was announced at Geneva, Flewitt said that it could be the first of several more practical, but still performance-focused, cars produced by the firm.
Flewitt said: “It will be a car that combines competition levels of performance with continent-crossing capability, wrapped in a beautiful lightweight body. It’s a car that has been designed for distance and one that will also provide the comfort and space expected of a grand tourer.
“But it will also have a level of agility never experienced before in this segment. In addition, it will be the lightest of grand tourers and, by also having the best power-to-weight ratio, I promise it will be one of the quickest.”
Suggesting that the new grand tourer could be the first of several such models, Flewitt also confirmed that it would sit outside its established, three-tier line-up of Sports Series, Super Series and Ultimate Series families at the firm, instead saying that the car will be “a unique, tailored model”.
Although McLaren has trademarked the GTZ name recently, insiders have told Autocar this is to future-proof potential names of products, rather then being specific to either the GT or a potential collaboration with Zagato.
McLaren's hybrid plans are more advanced than rivals
In a separate interview with Autocar, Flewitt claimed that the brand remains on course to have part-electrified models on sale before Aston Martin. “Aston are talking about competing with us, but there isn’t anything near the road yet,” Flewitt said. “We prefer to talk about it when we’ve done it.”
He confirmed that the first hybrid McLaren, the replacement for the Sports Series that is due next year, will send both petrol and electric power through the rear wheels only, while an all-wheel-drive hybrid system is being considered for higher-performance models.
“I can't see us doing a mechanically driven front axle," he admitted, "but I could see an electrically driven front axle in the future. Apart from the traction benefits, which increase the appeal in certain markets, you also get a very significant ability to recharge your hybrid with an electrically powered front axle.”
McLaren is also believed to be switching to a weight-saving, smaller capacity V6 to combine with electric power. The forthcoming Sports Series replacement is also expected to come with a charging port. “Plug-ins have to be part of the equation,” Flewitt said.
“We’ve got to be honest: we’ve been driven to this by emissions regulations. I may be out of touch with what Fiestas can do these days, but when I look at [our] first car and its CO2 emissions, it looks like what I used to aspire for Fiestas to achieve in my Ford days – it's staggeringly good.”
While it won’t be possible to fully cancel out the weight penalty of a hybrid system, Flewitt hopes to minimise it. “I’ve always said my ambition was to launch the hybrid at the same weight as the outgoing car,” he said.
“We’re not going to hit that, but we’re going to be within 30-40kg. When you think the P1 hybrid system was 140kg, we've done a huge amount to manage the weight… I've driven a prototype of it and the car is very compelling. We wouldn't be launching it if it wasn't going to be.”