"We really do deliver on the ultimate driving experience. For us, it means no compromise. An SUV doesn't allow us to deliver on that. It's a not a no-compromise kind of vehicle." said Mark Roberts, head of design for McLaren Automotive, during an inaugural luxury and supercar forum held in Toronto. Those are fighting words, specifically aimed at other luxury manufacturers who are purported to have "sold their souls" with the introduction of SUVs to their model lineup.
McLaren believes that SUVs have no place in their lineup. Despite that, they have plans to release 18 new vehicles between now and 2025, which sure sounds like a lot of variants of their carbon-chassis-and-3-point-8-litre-turbo formula that they apply liberally across the range. The reality is that quite nearly all of their models are slightly higher or lower specification relative to each other, with a little more or little less power. They may be seeing a growth in sales, but at under 5,000 units a year it doesn't take much to move the needle.
But fighting the SUV and crossover trend does seem a little foolhardy. There are many manufacturers in the past who have put their stamped their feet, protesting the inevitable changes to come - BMW with the belief that two valves per cylinder was the best, Volvo with their anti-front-wheel-drive sentiments, and Honda with turbocharged engines. It's progress, it's what the market demands, and it's especially bold for McLaren to make such a claim when their company is barely making profits in the grand scheme of things.
If there's one thing we've learned, it's that a company's values are only as strong as the people in charge - and these people change, as do market demands, and investors as well. In the end, the choice to produce an SUV may not be one left to McLaren, and it really comes down to how badly they wish to expand and grow the brand. After all, if even the Germans can buckle and produce SUVs a-la-Porsche and BMW, what more a (relatively) small British supercar manufacturer?