The controversial McLaren X1.
For such a little company, McLaren has a lot going on. The supercar company is making good on its promise to roll out at least one new model annually, with its second offering debuting at the Pebble Beach Concours and a third set to be revealed at the Paris Motor Show next month.
The annual Pebble Beach even actually saw two new products from British-based McLaren, if you include the one-off X1 model produced for a secretive client. The maker also rolled out its 12C Spider, the convertible version of the MP4-12C coupe that went on sale earlier this year.
But the real question is what’s to come next month, and if industry sources are to be trusted, it will likely mean the introduction of a formal successor to McLaren’s legendary F1 supercar, a 3-seater that marked the first serious use of carbon fiber in a street car. Super-strong and ultra-light, it is now the material of choice for McLaren – while other makers struggle to expand its use.
“This is going to be an incredibly important year for us,” Tony Sheriff, McLaren’s managing director, tells TheDetroitBureau.com. Officially, he won’t discuss the next model, nor even confirm it is scheduled for a Paris debut. But he then hints that “It’ll be expensive.”
McLaren's one-off X1 shares the scissor doors but not much else with the original Coupe.
The F1 was, at its time, the world’s most expensive car, at more than $1 million. The Bugatti Veyron now holds that honor, at around $1.4 million. So, it’s anyone’s guess what McLaren will be targeting.
One thing is certain, the next-gen McLaren F1 will have to deliver some eye-popping numbers. Today’s top supercars are pushing up and even beyond the 1,000-horsepower mark and delivering 0 to 60 times of well under 3 seconds, with top speeds that blow through the 200 mph mark without breathing hard.
The new McLaren 12C Spider comes in at only 616 hp – which is still a 25 hp bump from the earlier MP4-12C Coupe. (It also gets some more subtle improvements, such as twin A/C modes.) The new Retractable Hard Top, or RHT, folds away in a matter of seconds.
But coupe and convertible have some key things in common, notable the use of a carbon-fiber monocell chassis that is critical to their light weight and rigidity.
The McLaren 12C Spider gets its Pebble Beach premier.
In fact, noted Sheriff, “Most companies take a coupe and cut the top off – losing rigidity in the process, which they have to spend money and mass on to get back. But we started by developing the Spider and then turned it into a Coupe.”
That strategy means the Spider adds only a minimal amount of mass to the Coupe’s already segment-leading weight.
Production starts in November and U.S. customers can expect to start taking delivery by January, with the base price for the McLaren Spider set at $265,750 plus $2,500 for delivery.
No price has been revealed for the X1, but then again, no one else will be able to order one. The distinctively polarizing supercar is the first to roll out of Special Operations unit which will oversee bespoke cars.
It took 2.5 years to develop the vehicle for the “anonymous car enthusiast,” in McLaren’s words, who ordered it. The design alone was an 18-month project for McLaren’s Hong Yeo. He reportedly incorporated elements of such classic luxury cars as a 1939 Mercede-Benz 540K, as well as the Citroen SM and even an Airstream trailer.
Like the new 12C Spider, it will be powered by McLaren’s 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8.
The X1 now will return to McLaren HQ in Woking, Surrey, England for a final checkout before being delivered to an unspecified market.