Our spy photographers have spotted the new McLaren Sports Series supercar undergoing development testing. The British brand’s updated entry-level model will go on sale in 2021, sporting a new carbon-fibre chassis and a hybrid powertrain – and acting as a fresh rival for the Ferrari F8 Tributo and Lamborghini Huracan.
Unlike our previously spied mule seen below, which wore a modified version of the McLaren 570’s bodywork, this latest development vehicle features all-new styling – marking the first time we’ve seen the next-generation model’s production panelling.
The new supercar’s design uses many of the same themes as the McLaren GT, sharing the same high-mounted, slim LED headlamps, similar engine intakes and right-angled tail. Even the shape of the model’s glasshouse looks familiar and, underneath the camouflage, the bumper vents appear to share kindred styling.
Although there’s no official word on the new car’s powertrain, there’s a few telltale signs on the bodywork about what’s lurking underneath. First off, there’s a big “hybrid prototype” sticker fixed to this mule’s side skirts – and above that, there’s an unusually shaped filler door, which could house a charging socket.
New 2021 McLaren Sport Series supercar: chassis and drivetrain
The next-generation supercar’s bodywork will be propped up by an all-new carbon-fibre monocoque, which McLaren previously teased with a single image. It replaces the firm’s old Monocell platform, which has been a base for McLaren’s production cars since the original MP4-12C.
However, for this next-generation model, McLaren has started afresh. The new chassis has been designed to accommodate the batteries and electrical architecture required for hybrid drive – and it also incorporates fresh weight-saving tactics to offset the added bulk that comes with these components.
McLaren has confirmed that the platform will be manufactured at its AUD$88 million composites base in Sheffield – and it will be used first in the next entry-level Sport Series model, which will replace the 570S from next year.
The company is yet to confirm any technical details on the new model’s hybrid powertrain, but we expect it will feature a twin-turbocharged V6 engine, at least a couple of electric motors and a battery pack big enough for a pure-electric range of around 30 kilometres.
Like the firm’s outgoing 3.8-litre V8 engine, this new V6 will be developed by McLaren’s time-honoured engine partner, Ricardo – and we expect the PHEV system’s total power output will increase over the 570S.
McLaren’s Automotive boss, Mike Flewitt, described the new chassis as “every bit as revolutionary as the MonoCell we introduced with the 12C, when we first embarked on making production vehicles a decade ago.”
He added: “This new, ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre chassis boasts greater structural integrity and higher levels of quality than ever before. Our advanced expertise in lightweight composites processes and manufacturing, combined with our experience in cutting-edge battery technology and high-performance hybrid propulsion systems, mean that we are ideally placed to deliver to customers levels of electrified high-performance motoring that until now have simply been unattainable.”
The push towards hybrid drive forms part of McLaren’s AUD$2.11billion Track 25 business plan, which will see 18 new petrol-hybrid powered McLarens launched by 2025. The company says it is currently evaluating a new high-power battery pack for a full EV setup that will offer a claimed 30 minutes of electric range around a race track.