McLaren Automotive, the Fledgling British Sports car brand that only started building road cars in 2011, is already stealing ‘conquest’ sales from more established marques like Porsche and Audi.
Founded by New Zealand racing legend, Bruce McLaren in 1963, as Bruce McLaren Motor Racing, the brand is steeped in top-level motor racing history, having notched up no less than eight Constructors Championships and 12 Drivers Championships in Formula 1 alone.
That kind of racing pedigree seems to have plenty of appeal, especially the entry-level Sports Series, which includes the 540C, and 570 model range, though a bit unexpected, according to Tom Taylor, Product Manager, Sports Series, who spoke with CarAdvice at the recent launch of the 570S Spider, in Spain.
“When we first launched the car, we expected around 50 per cent of Sports Series customers to be existing McLaren owners who were adding to their 650S or 12C, when in actual fact, 91 per cent are totally new to the brand. It proves the point with Sports Series that we are reaching a new audience.
“Now, of that 91 per cent, there’s a large percentage of Porsche 911 and Audi R8 owners trading their cars in for Sports Series cars. But what surprises us most are the numbers of Ferrari 458 and Lamborghini Huracan owners that have traded their cars in for one of our Sports Series cars.”
And it’s not just petrolheads and car enthusiasts that are attracted to the brand – it’s a whole range of new McLaren buyers.
“What we were hoping to do with the Sports Series was to distil our supercar DNA and our racing pedigree into a more useable and attainable car with real breadth of ability.
“And in 2016, we built upon that with the 570 GT, which was our take on a more traditional grand tourer.
“Sports Series has also brought us a different customer to what we have had had before. There are more female buyers, and largely speaking, it’s a less petrolhead audience and more about luxury sports car buyers,” Taylor added.
Interestingly, the 570S Spider loses nothing to its coupe sibling when it comes to performance and handling, due in part to the stiffness of the carbon-fibre tub and especially low weight of the roof itself. Even the aerodynamics is the same.
“With the 570S Spider, the brief was simple; to keep everything that was great about the 570S Coupe – and lose the roof, but without losing anything else in the process. So, a ‘no compromise convertible’, is how we thought about it.
“It’s also about weight management, which is absolutely integral to the McLaren story and the reason we use a carbon-fibre tub, which weighs just 75kg. It’s super stiff and very lightweight, and the main reason we’ve been able to add a two-piece retractable roof system that weighs just 46kg.
“Critically, there’s no other weight penalty for the Spider, as there’s none of the usual structural reinforcement required by rival makes in order to achieve similar levels of rigidity”, explained Taylor.
Like the 570S Coupe, the 570S Spider will go from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.2 seconds, while top speed is a claimed 328km/h with the roof up. But, even with the roof off, it is only 13km slower than the coupe.