First McLaren hybrid supercar prototypes hit the road

McLaren is due to launch its first hybrid powertrain in a non-Ultimate Series model next year, and development prototypes have been spotted.

New spy shots, taken on a European mountain road, show what initially appear to be just another batch of 720S testing mules. However, closer inspection reveals these prototypes sport legally mandated ‘hybrid’ test vehicle stickers, only used on models with potential for electric-only range. 

Earlier this year, McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt confirmed to Autocar that the first of a mooted range of hybrids will be the replacement for the Sports Series line-up, including the 540C, 570S, 570GT and 600LT. The first car of that model renewal will be launched next year. 

The exact specifications of what’s under the skin of these prototypes remains closely under wraps. Rumours strongly suggest that the Woking car maker will be switching to V6 power for the new hybrid system, saving weight and increasing efficiency, with electric power more than making up for the loss in cylinder capacity. 

The Sports Series replacement is also expected to come with a charging port, making it a plug-in hybrid rather than the recuperative hybrid system found in the P1.  It will also put both petrol and electric power through the rear wheels only. 

While it won’t be possible to fully cancel out the weight penalty of a hybrid system, Flewitt hopes to minimise it. “I’ve always said my ambition was to launch the hybrid at the same weight as the outgoing car,” he said.

“We’re not going to hit that, but we’re going to be within 30-40kg. When you think the P1 hybrid system was 140kg, we’ve done a huge amount to manage the weight. I’ve driven a prototype of it and the car is very compelling. We wouldn’t be launching it if it wasn’t going to be.”