Published on October 16th, 2022 | by Subhash Nair


Why Is McLaren The Last Performance Brand Without An SUV?

Mclaren Automotive haven’t even confirmed development of an SUV and are the last to abstain.

Just about every high-performance car brand has given in to the SUV crowd. Last month even Ferrari caved when it officially showed the Purosangue. So now the real question is, who else is left without an SUV?

The situation is a little more complicated that the question suggests. After all, the lines between ‘SUV’ and ‘Crossover’ these days are so blurry. Does Tesla even have an SUV for sale? Does the Model Y count as an SUV? Does the Model X? For the sake of argument, let’s call the Model Y a crossover and pretend that’s enough to count.

Tesla Model Y

The next complication is which car brands should we exclude from this equation. Every year there seems to be a new startup brand with serious funding and a plan to overthrow the status quo. Every MONTH there seems to be about 10 new Chinese brands coming out of the woodwork. Honestly, I’m probably going to have to exclude the lot of them and focus on brands with at least some legacy in the automotive industry.


Let’s not forget the boutique builders with serious engineering, design and performance muscle like Koenigsegg, Pagani, SSC and many more. These guys build some of the best cars in the business, but they can afford to stay out of the SUV game because they exist with one foot outside of the ecosystem and don’t need to hit huge sales numbers to survive. For the sake of argument, I’m going to exclude these brands.

That leaves two performance brands with a lasting legacy without an SUV – Bugatti and McLaren Automotive. In fact, I think Bugatti probably falls into the same category as brands mentioned in the previous paragraph – they sold just 150 units last year!

Bugatti Bolide 2021

Well, there’s your answer. McLaren Automotive is the last brand to stay out of the SUV game. They sold 2,138 units in 2021 and peaked at 4,806 units in 2018. So what gives? What has stopped them?

From my perspective there are some genuinely good reasons why they don’t have an SUV. One good reason is because it’s really not in their DNA. McLaren Automotive’s portfolio consists of very performance-oriented vehicles. Even their most GT-like vehicles wouldn’t look out of place on a track. Even the model literally named ‘McLaren GT’ doesn’t even have seats in the back. It barely has room for more than a set of golf clubs.

The McLaren GT. Studio Shot.

Is this a valid excuse? Well, Ferrari has had GT 2+2 seaters from the start, so they could go the route of the SUV easily. Lotus had the Evora, which made some compromises in favour of passenger comfort. Lamborghini had the LM002 SUV to fall on when they made the SUV transition. Aston Martin’s bread and butter are grand tourers. Maserati has a long line of sedans. And Porsche always wanted to find a market for a GT, but historically could never make it work well until the first Cayenne paved the way.

So yes, McLaren is genuinely the only brand in the list to have not have GT-ness in its DNA.

But WILL they make an SUV?

It’s almost an inevitability at this point. Rumours have already started to circulate about an all-electric SUV being discussed by new McLaren Automotive CEO Michael Leiters.

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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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