If you’re looking for a company at the top of its game, Woking is the place to start.
It’s now five years since McLaren Automotive sold its first 12C supercar — a very short time on most motor industry calendars — but McLaren is this week launching the first comprehensive rethink of its core model. And that’s interesting as much for what it doesn’t change as for what it does.
Hearteningly, the concept is unaltered. The 720S proves how good the original decisions were and how much development there is in the mid-engined, two-seater, carbonfibre-tubbed concept. The tub has become Monocage II (which now displays such strength and versatility that it now has A-pillars whose thinness shames many superminis).
And McLaren’s CEO — and consummate leader — Mike Flewitt has already signalled that the act of moving chassis manufacture from Austria back to a new, higher-tech plant in the UK, provides opportunities for future weight reduction when the company moves — as it will — to electric propulsion.
Porsche and 70-year-old Ferrari used to be seen as the monolithic companies that would lead the supercar world to new performance-building trends and processes. Three or four years ago we marvelled at what McLaren had achieved, but it was really a case of an ant biting the ankle of a giant. Now life is changing. Dare I say it, but the P1 technology demonstrator was a better effort than the LaFerrari equivalent. I’m starting to look to McLaren for global leadership in this complex field. In just five years, what an achievement.