McLaren has proven itself highly adept at making the most out of the same building blocks. That includes the same essential twin-turbo V8 setup across its entire lineup. But it may not stick to the eight indefinitely.
“For us, it’s all about the attributes. If we can get the performance, then it doesn’t matter if it’s 12 or 10 or eight or six,” McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt told Car&Driver. “We’re all enthusiasts, we’d love a manual-shifting V-12, but that’s 20 years out of date. So we’re not wedded to cylinder count, but we are wedded very much to performance and excitement.”
Coupled with his determination to keep any weight increase in check while electrifying more of its supercars, Flewitt's comments leads C/D to project that the company is planning a new V6 hybrid powertrain. Though unconfirmed, the setup could suit the next-generation Sports Series quite well, replacing the detuned V8 that currently powers the 540C and 570S.
Having just rolled out in 2015, that could be some time away. But the company is building a new production facility in Sheffield that is projected to come on line in 2020 – which could see a new Sports Series rolling off the line first.
The question this raises in our mind is where McLaren would get the engine. It could lob a couple of cylinders off the current unit – which now displaces a nice round 4.0 liters in the new 720S. It could develop a new unit altogether. Or it could source one from somewhere else – say Honda, for example, which employs a hybrid V6 setup in the new NSX. That prospect would assume, however, that the current relationship between McLaren and Honda doesn't disintegrate over their joint Formula One project.
On the subject of powertrains, Flewitt also hinted that the forthcoming BP23 three-seat super-GT will boast a significant power increase even over the 903-horse McLaren P1. The model looks set to base its hybrid powertrain on the new 4.0-liter unit and integrate a more potent battery pack, so we could be seeing upwards of 1,000 horsepower in a luxurious hypercar closer in spirit to the Bugatti Chiron.