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McLaren scuttles rumours of three-seat F1 successor

Two’s company: McLaren killed hope of a three-seater F1 successor, at least for now, due to being “too busy on other projects”.

Despite reports and hints, McLaren is currently not working on a new three-seater

McLaren logo2 Sep 2016

MCLAREN has crushed the hopes of many petrol-heads worldwide by dispelling rumours it is building a new three-seat supercar to succeed its legendary F1.

Speaking to GoAuto at the opening of its first stand-alone store in Melbourne, McLaren Automotive design director Frank Stephenson shot down prospects of another three-seater in the near future.

“I’m just saying we’re not working on a three-seater at the moment,” he said.

“Of course the guys at McLaren talk about it all the time and we’d love to do it because it would be the ultimate spiritual successor, I guess, to the F1, but we’re too busy with other projects at the moment.”

Mr Stephenson said there are a lot of hurdles to overcome in building a modern three-seater, including customer demand and safety regulations.

“We’re into building special editions and all that, so I guess if enough customers asked for it, we could do it, but we don’t have a lot of customers asking for three-seaters,” he said.

“The belief is rife because they see us putting out so many new products, that suddenly a three-seater could be thrown into the equation and it would be exciting.

“But there are a lot of things with a three-seater, you’ve got to work out packages so it meets crash regulations, legislation. That’s probably why it hasn’t been done before, because it’s a lot more difficult to crash and survive in a three-seater than it is with a two-seater.”

While Autocar published a report in July indicating McLaren’s intention to reveal a new three-seater in 2018, Mr Stephenson was quick to point out these were just rumours and not an official confirmation.

“The three seats, people are writing about that and obviously, it’s like anything, you can spread a rumour and it gets picked up,” he said.

“Obviously McLaren has done the best three-seater in the world ever, and it would make sense to think about it, but whether we’re going to do it or not? You couldn’t build a range of cars off three-seaters because it’s just, you know, how many would you sell.”

Mr Stephenson previously spoke to GoAuto in July, where he recommended attending 2017’s Geneva motor show “for three reasons”, possibly hinting at the unveiling of a three-seater then, but has now clarified his previous comments.

“I was talking about the environment, the atmosphere of Geneva, because it’s great for presenting new cars, everybody comes there as the first show of the season. And then the McLaren stand gets better and better, so we have great food and we got great drinks,” he said.

At the time, GoAuto also speculated his comments could hint at the reveal of three new models at Europe’s first big motor show of the year, but Mr Stephenson confirmed this would not be the case.

“You guys want to see it as three new cars, but that’s just too many cars to produce, even a motor show,” he said. “If you think about three new cars that would be absolutely ridiculous.

“I think Lotus tried it once, and look what happened to them.

“We promised to do two new cars every year until at least 2022, that’s our Track 22 program where we put in about two billion Australian dollars of investment, so that’s pretty important.

“Fifteen new cars by 2022, or variants of cars.”

Mr Stephenson said the future models will be an evolution of the current McLaren design language and will build upon the base it has created with the Sports Series (540C and 570S), Super Series (650S coupe and convertible and 675LT) and Ultimate Series (P1).

“We’ve established the range now, we’ve created a McLaren look,” he said.

“You can be expecting a replacement for the 650S, the supercar range, at some point, but I can’t say when we’re going to release that. All our new cars will probably push more emotional buttons.

“Now we’ve got this family look going on, we’ve established the brand. Now McLaren has suddenly become a credible, believable competitor to the big names.

“If you are going to buy any of these cars around here (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati) you can also consider a McLaren and probably would if you are more technical minded.

“If you are more of a connoisseur, these cars are more exclusive, so that counts a lot in this game.

“I think the next products you see from McLaren will start to really push the innovation button.”

McLaren usually eschews concepts and has historically used the Geneva motor show to reveal its most important models, including the P1 in 2013, the 640S coupe and convertible in 2014, the track-focused P1 GTR and amped-up 675LT in 2015, and softer 570GT at this year’s show.

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