McLaren Automotive – hyperstellar mode; six years & nine road-legal models


If you’ve been following us on Instagram, then you probably would have seen this coming. Just before the end of last year, we had a photoshoot with a pair of McLarens, both of which had just received minor makeovers. And if it wasn’t obvious already, I’m actually quite a big fan of the McLaren brand. They make some phenomenal cars and this photoshoot made me reminisce my time behind the wheels of several of their cars: MP4-12C, 650S, 675LT, and how far the McLaren brand has progressed in this decade.

When the McLaren F1 was introduced to the world in 1992, it was the sort of hypercar that sort of defied conventions. I mean, have you seen another car since with the driver in a central seating position, flanked by  space for two passengers on the sides? The F1 had a fairly normal production lifespan of about eight years and in that time, saw several variants – track-only F1 GTR, F1 LM, and F1 GT.

Then, for almost twenty years, nothing.

Fast forward to 2011 and McLaren announced the MP4-12C to the world. This was followed by the 12C Spider in 2012 and the McLaren P1 in 2013; think of it as a spiritual successor to the McLaren F1. It was the car that properly got fans excited, especially since it was one of the cars of the holy trinity (Ferrari LaFerrari, Porsche 918 Spyder, McLaren P1). Then in 2014, McLaren announced the 650S which would supersede the 12C.

And that’s when things went bat-shit crazy.

First there was the introduction of the McLaren 625C in late 2014. Think of it as a de-tuned 650S with chassis revisions to make it more livable, and specific only to Asian market. Then McLaren announced in 2015, a three-tier product structure along with a new naming strategy (Sports, Super, Ultimate series) and variants (LT, S, C), together with car’s power outputs.

The brand’s entry-level cars started with the 570S and 540C in coupe and roadster styles. Representing the Super series were the 650S and a lighter and faster, limited run 675LT – both were also offered in coupe and roadster formats.Filling up spots for the Ultimate series was the P1, with all 375 units completely delivered to customers at the end of 2015. There was also a heavily revised, more hardcore, track-only P1 GTR.

All is not over because in 2017, McLaren announced a successor to the 650S. With only a three year lifespan, the 650S was made defunct with the introduction of the 720S. More power, more tech, and in my humble opinion, more crazy looks to finally make a McLaren supercar look properly bananas. It is difficult for me to imagine just how the 720S will drive; the MP4-12C was quick but a little bland, the 650S was too fast and with a tail engineered to wiggle, and the 675LT was properly freaking mental – each one different, and each one better than the other.

Oh wait, we forgot to include the McLaren P15 Senna, introduced in December 2017, as one to fill the gap in the Ultimate series. It’s a million dollar hypercar, with no hybrid powertrain so less power than the P1, but also a lot less weight. Despite the sky high asking price, McLaren will build 500 Sennas, more than P1, and all of which have been accounted for. Did you notice the see-thru tub? It looks bloody mad!

We’re now in the first month of 2018, so let’s quickly recap the models: 12C, 650S, P1, 625C, 675LT, 540C, 570S, 720S, P1 Senna. That’s nine models in six years, spread across two base powerplants. Most are powered by McLaren’s M838T engine, a 3.8 litre twin-turbo V8 in various states of tune: from 540 PS and cranked up to 737 PS. The 720S features McLaren’s M840T engine, a 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 while the P15 Senna features the same engine but heavily modified, dubbed the M840TR and with 800 PS.

All this is good and well from the perspective of an enthusiast, but I suppose a little different if you are an owner. It probably won’t feel good to buy a brand new sports car, only to have the entire model replaced two years later. I can only wonder if this will affect the brand’s long term image and residual values of their cars.

Here in Malaysia, McLaren worked with Sime Darby Motors to open the first Kuala Lumpur showroom at Mutiara Damansara back in 2013. It was the first time the McLaren brand was represented in Malaysia, and it was the seventh market in Asia Pacific. Unfortunately, after just a little over two years, McLaren Kuala Lumpur ceased operations, although their service center in Glenmarie remained operational.

We picked up a news report from another local automotive website that McLaren would have a new brand guardian, and we are certainly looking forward to it.


About Author


From supercar spotting on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Won has moved onto the realms of motoring journalism since 2011. He has a keen eye for automotive photography, a penchant for fast cars, and the occasional hunger for munching corners.

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