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High-performance going greener for McLaren

British brawn: McLaren's M838T turbocharged V8 powers all of its vehicles in varying states of tune, but a successor is on the way.

McLaren sticking with V8s and hybrids for now but future engines getting smaller

McLaren logo10 Apr 2015


MCLAREN'S first and only in-house developed engine will continue to power its models for the foreseeable future, but to conform with ever shifting emissions regulations, its future vehicles will use more hybrid technology and smaller engines.

Although the 3.8-litre V8 produces radically different outputs depending on the model it drives, the M838T has not drastically changed since its first appearance in the MP4-12C four years ago, but it will ultimately be replaced.

The British supercar-maker has engineered sufficient longevity into the turbocharged V8 to comply with emissions regulations for coming years, but says more hybrids and “not going back up to bigger engines” will secure its green future.

Speaking at the launch of its new Sports Series and the 570S in New York, McLaren special operations executive director Paul Mackenzie told GoAuto the next major powertrain development will see hybrid technology filter into models under the P1 flagship.

“The hybrid system in the P1 was a technology demonstrator,” he said. “What we have done is shown hybrid doesn't necessarily mean boring.

“It's very low volume and bloody expensive and at the moment that's not scalable down to our other vehicles, however, we now know the benefits of hybrid so fundamentally its part of our long-term strategy.

“It starts in Formula 1 and as the larger OEMs take it on board the prices start coming down as the volume increases. That's exactly where hybrid is and that's what we will be tapping into as well.”

Mr Mckenzie explained that while there were still advances to be made in the areas of motors and power control, power storage holds the greatest potential gains.

“Battery technology is where the real benefits are being seen and we are very much involved in that,” he said.

Beyond hybrid technology, McLaren is also looking to optimise internal combustion engine efficiency and, while the company couldn't reveal details, Mr Mackenzie did not rule out smaller engines.

“We are not going back up to the bigger engines,” he said. “We continue to investigate what is best moving forward. I cannot say but we are looking at everything.

“We are always very careful looking legislation and the CO2 legislation are quite interesting over the next period and our certification team presented a paper to the board a month ago talking about where different regions are and their CO2 emissions.

“CO2 will become more and more important and it's always got to be a part of our thinking.”

As the first engine developed by the company, the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 required significant investment and Mr Mackenzie said the “lightweight, small, fuel-efficient” forced-induction unit was performing well with “lots o power”.

But McLaren's press officer Adam Gron confirmed the company was already looking at a successor.

“Sooner or later we will be working on a new powertrain,” he said.

McLaren's freshly unveiled 570S kicks-off the eagerly awaited Sports Series and is also powered by the turbo eight cylinder, as is the forthcoming 540C that will break cover at the Auto Shanghai show later this month.

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