MUCH OF WHAT MCLAREN LEARNT WITH THE P1 AND 675LT HAS GONE INTO THE 720S

Evo India - - MCLAREN 720S -

‘One push was to shorten the de­vel­op­ment time and make it more ef­fi­cient,’ says Haydn Baker, McLaren’s ve­hi­cle line di­rec­tor for Super Se­ries. ‘So we de­cided to delete the ex­per­i­men­tal pro­to­type phase, which was a huge chal­lenge. All the proof of con­tent was done on 650S mules, so one with the sus­pen­sion on, one with the new en­gine, etcetera, but we didn’t build any cars un­til less than a year ago. All the work was done us­ing CAE and CFD, and signed off vir­tu­ally – years ago we would have done a lot more crash­ing into walls. Our first cars were built by April 2016: there were 20 of these val­i­da­tion cars, and that was the com­plete fleet for ev­ery­thing – sign-off, mileage, elec­tron­ics, drive­abil­ity – all built from pro­duc­tion tool­ing.’

A great deal rests on the shoul­ders of the 720S. McLaren is fore­cast­ing pro­duc­tion to rise from just over the 3000 units in 2016 to 4500 by the end of 2017. That will re­quire Mike Fle­witt, McLaren’s CEO, to con­tinue to build the com­pany’s mar­ket reach (you can cur­rently buy a McLaren in 30 mar­kets and In­dia will be added very soon con­sid­er­ing not only strong de­mand ex­pressed by en­thu­si­asts but the fact that one of the first de­liv­er­ies will be to an In­dian, al­biet to his Mid­dle East res­i­dence) while his en­gi­neers busy them­selves re­new­ing and ex­pand­ing the cur­rent prod­uct lineup. That will in­clude a more pow­er­ful re­place­ment for the P1 – co­de­name ‘BP23’.

Among the 15 new mod­els sched­uled by 2022 will not only be Spi­der and GT ver­sions of the 720S, but also a more ex­treme re­place­ment for the 675LT, too. Then we’re into Spi­der vari­ants of to­day’s 570 and 540 mod­els, be­fore these too are re­placed with sig­nif­i­cantly up­dated mod­els that will have been de­vel­oped with tech­nol­ogy in­tro­duced on the 720S. Per­haps the big­gest chal­lenge for Fle­witt and his team is that half of all fu­ture McLarens will fea­ture hy­brid pow­er­trains. For this, McLaren will not only need to de­velop the tech­nol­ogy and seam­lessly in­te­grate it into its new range of cars, but it will also need its cus­tomers to ac­tu­ally want it, too. Which isn’t al­ways a given. Su­per­car own­ers want their toys to be noisy and thrilling and, in many cases, anti-so­cial de­vices. Can hy­brid tech­nol­ogy de­liver all those char­ac­ter­is­tics?

Right now, though, the fo­cus is on the car you see here. And when you see it in its alu­minium-and-car­bon­fi­bre glory, you’ll see a much more ag­gres­sive McLaren. Parked next to a 720S, a 650S looks de­void of any dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures. Those new head­lights may have caused much chat­ter, but when seen in situ they cre­ate a McLaren that makes you stop and take in the de­tails, pick out the lines and the shrink-wrapped phi­los­o­phy Melville and his team has fo­cused on. Those sharp creases in the bon­net add an ag­gres­sion that’s been lack­ing in the past.

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