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Car and Driver: McLaren Confirms 650S Replacement Will Be a Hybrid

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2015 McLaren 650S Le Mans Edition

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With McLaren’s confirmation of its $1.4 billion investment plans, thoughts turn to what exactly it is going to be spending that money on. One of the most exciting upcoming products is likely to be the production version of the car that is still known internally only by the codename P14, the replacement for the 650S and 675LT.

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This will be McLaren’s next Super Series car, with company insiders indicating that it’s likely to make its official debut at next year’s Geneva auto show. We know that, like the P1, it will use a hybrid powertrain based on a further-developed version of McLaren’s twin-turbocharged V-8 engine.

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The P14 has been created to meet some extremely aggressive aerodynamic targets, with the engineering and design teams working alongside each other during its development process. “It’s not about us creating something beautiful and then throwing it at the engineers and saying ‘build it’, and them saying ‘we can’t’,” said Frank Stephenson, McLaren’s design director, “we’ve worked together at every step of the process.”

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The new car will be substantially faster than the 650S and 675LT, creating more separation from the newly launched Sports Series. As part of that effort, McLaren engineers have been tasked with creating a hybrid system that brings the smallest possible weight penalty.

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“We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close,” CEO Mike Flewitt told us. “To get the power density we need battery technology to move on, which it is doing, but it’s also about taking weight out of the car. The P1 had 375 pounds of [electric powertrain] if you added it up; I think that today we’re within a 70- to 110-pound weight penalty for hybrid. I want to eliminate that, get it to zero—and then really hack off my engineers by saying we want to make it even lighter than a conventional powertrain would be. But that’s in the future, it’s something we’re constantly driving.”

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Stephenson assures us that the design is similarly radical. “It’s a big leap for McLaren. It’s unpredictable, it will raise eyebrows—it will definitely raise eyebrows. It’s got a lot of things that haven’t been done in car design before, it’s bringing stuff that’s going to make other companies go ‘why didn’t we do that?’”

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Details are predictably scant, although Stephenson confirms that the P14 will shift to a radically different headlamp graphic enabled by ultra-powerful LED lights, and also that it gets a “completely rethought” cabin with a new control interface system. We’ll see the new car, and learn what it will be called, closer to the launch next year, but presuming that McLaren sticks with its strategy of model numbers dictated by power output, we’re predicting that the P14’s official name will start with a seven.

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