A BLACK SWAN MO­MENT

In­tro­duc­ing the Mclaren 570S

Neue Luxury - - Front Page - By Kyle For­tune

Four thou­sand cars, a tiny num­ber in au­to­mo­tive terms, is Mclaren Au­to­mo­tive’s goal. Es­tab­lished in 2010, the mar­que is ev­i­dently still in its in­fancy. The F1— the fastest nat­u­rally as­pi­rated pro­duc­tion car to ever be built and one that still re­mains a global au­to­mo­tive su­per­car icon since its in­cep­tion in 1992— re­mains a per­sua­sive el­e­ment at the heart of Mclaren’s brand iden­tity. Sim­ply ex­pressed, Mclaren pro­duces the finest cars—that they’re the fastest and most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced is a by-prod­uct of the com­pa­nies’ con­stant pur­suit of ex­cel­lence and com­mit­ment to in­no­va­tion.

In 2009 when Mclaren Au­to­mo­tive was of­fi­cially an­nounced, spun off from its F1 team and Mclaren Tech­nol­ogy Group, it was clearly on mes­sage. The group in­tended to build the most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced sports and su­per­cars in the seg­ment. “We’re now in a po­si­tion where we have a va­ri­ety of sportscars,” says David Mcin­tyre, Re­gional Direc­tor for Asia Pa­cific, Mclaren Au­to­mo­tive. The mar­que of­fers three dif­fer­ent propo­si­tions with their re­cently in­tro­duced Sports Se­ries typ­i­fied by the 540C and 570S; the Su­per Se­ries within which Mclaren of­fers the 650S Spi­der and the lim­ited-edi­tion 675LT, a lighter, more fo­cused ver­sion of the al­ready sen­sa­tional 650S; and the Ul­ti­mate Se­ries, exem- pli­fied by the P1 hy­per­car and its track- only P1 GTR de­riv­a­tive.

For Mclaren to have pro­duced such a con­sid­ered suite of cars in such a short pe­riod of time is noth­ing short of in­cred­i­ble, the mar­que has been com­pet­ing and beat­ing long-es­tab­lished ri­vals in the su­per­car mar­ket mak­ing its evo­lu­tion even more im­pres­sive. “It’s all about en­rich­ing the pal­ette, mak­ing a richer mix of mod­els and cars with de­sir­abil­ity. We will dou­ble our vol­ume with the Sports Se­ries, hav­ing sold 1600 cars in 2014, and we’ll in­crease that to 4000 cars at ca­pac­ity. We’re con­fi­dent we will meet that thresh­hold,” says Mcin­tyre, “the com­pany has be­come a very sus­tain­able long-term busi­ness, that can af­ford to in­vest in its fu­ture.”

In this first phase the focus is on sports cars, Mike Fle­witt, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Mclaren Au­to­mo­tive ex­plains, “we’re try­ing to build a brand, an iconic sports car com­pany, cars em­body a sim­i­lar char­ac­ter. That is what builds cred­i­bil­ity. I’m not say­ing in 50 years time we won’t have a broader prod­uct range, but in the next seven to eight years, it will be our niche and we be­lieve there’s breadth to it.” Cars in the Mclaren Sports Se­ries will con­trib­ute to that vi­sion; with Mcin­tyre ad­mit­ting that along­side the 540C and 570C will be the in­evitable in­tro­duc­tion of other de­riv­a­tives such as an open topped of­fer­ing and then con­se­quen­tial­ity an op­por­tu­nity to in­tro­duce a Long­tail model in the fu­ture.

The 675LT, an­nounced at the Geneva Mo­tor Show in March 2015, ex­em­pli­fies the strength of Mclaren’s brand. Bor­row­ing its name from the F1 GTR Long­tail, or LT, the 675 uses the 650S as its ba­sis and, in the same way the F1 GTR Long­tail stripped weight, added focus and in­creased per­for­mance, so too does the 675LT. Just 500 cars will be built, each with 675hp, a longer body, en­hanced aero­dy­nam­ics and a weight re­duc­tion of 100kg— a quite in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment given the al­ready light­weight con­struc­tion of the car that it draws in­spi­ra­tion from. Two thirds of the 675LT is new, Mclaren’s chief test driver, Chris Good­win, de­scrib­ing it as “a track car that can be used on the road, with per­for­mance that’s very close to the P1”. That all 500 were sold prior to any­one out­side the mar­que hav­ing driven it, speaks to how well re­ceived Mclaren’s prod­ucts have be­come, par­tic­u­larly con­sid­er­ing the AU$657,000 price tag that the car com­mands. “Cus­tomers want to buy these cars be­cause they’re in­cred­i­bly lim­ited. The fact that the 670LT had sold out be­fore its re­lease shows that cus­tomers un­der­stand the vi­sion. For us to sim­ply make more would be care­less. It might be con­sid­ered ben­e­fi­cial in the short term, ul­ti­mately we need to re­tain a sense of mys­tique and ex­clu­siv­ity for the long term,” says Mcin­tyre.

Cars like the LT demon­strate the breadth both Fle­witt and Mcin­tyre dis­cuss— the in­tro­duc­tion of the Sports Se­ries pro­vid­ing the scope for di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion in both de­sign and pro­duc­tion. Mclaren’s of­fer­ing in this ex­cep­tion­ally com­pet­i­tive mar­ket has in­evitably shaken-up the es­tab­lished ri­vals. “What’s es­sen­tial is that our cars re­main ex­clu­sive,” re­flects Fle­witt, who is happy to have de­mand out­strip sup­ply. “In that band our cars will be the most sport­ing propo­si­tion,” adds Fle­witt, “we will pick seg­ments where we be­lieve there’s a mar­ket, where we be­lieve we can build the car that will lead in that par­tic­u­lar seg­ment, and where we can con­tinue to build a strong busi­ness propo­si­tion.”

While Mclaren Au­to­mo­tive, as a global brand, car­ries a great deal of grav­i­tas thanks to its F1 rac­ing pedi­gree, each mar­ket does rep­re­sent its unique chal­lenges. Mcin­tyre’s ex­per­tise is within the Asia Pa­cific re­gion— an area he’s cham­pi­oned for the last decade with a num­ber of lux­ury car­mak­ers. Since join­ing Mclaren in 2014, the Asia Pa­cific has be­come a sig­nif­i­cant growth area for the mar­que fol­low­ing its en­try into China in 2013. Sales have reached the point where the Asia Pa­cific mar­ket­place is Mclaren’s sec­ond most lu­cra­tive, and pro­vides the im­pe­tus for the com­pany to pro­duce mod­els specif­i­cally suited to the re­gions needs. The 625C, a slightly re­duced per­for­mance and less ex­treme ver­sion of the 650S, has been de­signed to in­clude fea­tures such as sus­pen­sion bet­ter suited to the re­gions road con­di­tions.

Mcin­tyre notes that the Chi­nese mar­ket in par­tic­u­lar sees an in­vest­ment into the Mclaren brand, “it is the con­sid­ered pur­chase in the su­per­car seg­ment, with cus­tomers con­vert­ing to Mclaren hav­ing pre­vi­ously owned one of our Ital­ian ri­vals. Peo­ple are buy­ing into the tech­nol­ogy as well as the dy­nam­ics and drive we of­fer”. In ad­di­tion, the Ja­panese mar­ket­place has al­ways em­braced Mclaren thanks in no small part to the F1 team’s long and suc­cess­ful re­la­tion­ship with Honda. “There is a ro­mance to the brand in Ja­pan as a re­sult of that suc­cess,” re­flects Mcin­tyre. Mclaren has won the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans in a F1 GTR with Ja­panese driver Masanori Sekiya, join­ing Yan­nick Dal­mas and JJ Le­hto on the top step of the podium. Rac­ing re­mains a core ac­tiv­ity for Mclaren, its 12C GT3 hav­ing won 51 in­ter­na­tional race and three cham­pi­onship ti­tles and the 650S GT3 con­tin­u­ing that global suc­cess through­out the 2015 sea­son.

Cus­tomers of Mclaren’s road cars race them around the globe, mir­ror­ing the suc­cess found on the race­track. Mcin­tyre re­it­er­at­ing that it is Mclaren’s technological prow­ess that makes it a clear leader in the mar­ket. It is hardly sur­pris­ing given Mclaren F1’s fa­mously fas­tid­i­ous, clin­i­cal ap­proach to rac­ing—and win­ning. Whilst there were ob­vi­ous strengths to cel­e­brate, the model was not ob­scured from crit­i­cism that its de­sign lacked emo­tional con­vic­tion and seemed de­tached in its ex­e­cu­tion. This was some­thing that the 650S and 675LT vo­ra­ciously chal­lenged to make the LT a much more vis­ceral, en­gag­ing car, that si­mul­ta­ne­ously re­tains the com­pany’s in­cred­i­ble dy­namic abil­ity with a ride qual­ity that’s un­sur­passed in the sports and su­per­car mar­ket­place.

And while the 570S and 540C might be big­ger vol­ume propo­si­tions, cus­tomers will still en­joy a cu­rated Mclaren ex­pe­ri­ence and the op­por­tu­nity to per­son­alise their cars with stan­dard con­fig­u­ra­tion tools or im­merse them­selves in a far more be­spoke of­fer­ing by Mclaren’s MSO (Mclaren Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions) depart­ment.

Hav­ing so­lid­i­fied its po­si­tion at the van­guard of the su­per­car mar­ket with its 650S, 675LT and Ul­ti­mate Se­ries P1 and P1 GTR, it seems fit­ting for the mar­que to re­lease its Sports Se­ries mod­els. That the 650S and 675LT are able to out-ac­cel­er­ate their F1 re­la­tion is of no sig­nif­i­cance to that car’s place in his­tory as it con­tin­ues to rep­re­sent one of the most sought-af­ter, tech­ni­cally so­phis­ti­cated and ex­pen­sive col­lec­tor cars of all time. “Peo­ple cer­tainly un­der­stand, and ap­pre­ci­ate that,” says Mcin­tyre “I think in some ways we were for­tu­nate that we had such an iconic car that re­mained un­sur­passed for over 20 years. We still re­tain that cred­i­bil­ity and the lin­eage only adds to the pres­tige and qual­ity of our cur­rent and fu­ture pro­duc­tion line. Our cus­tomers are in­cred­i­bly ex­pe­ri­enced, of­ten hav­ing col­lected nu­mer­ous su­per­cars and sports cars from our com­peti­tors. By the time they ap­proach Mclaren they com­pletely un­der­stand the value and tech­nol­ogy propo­si­tion.”

Im­ages courtesy of Mclaren Au­to­mo­tive.

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