Why Mclaren Should Build an Autonomous SUV

No, I've never felt complete behind the wheel of an SUV. However, I would like to see McLaren, a company I admire, building one.
Nevertheless, before I even start discussing the possibility of a McLaren SUV, I have to stress the fact that the Brits made it clear they're not planning this.

In fact, McLaren even mocked performance vehicle builders, such as Bentley, Lamborghini and Aston Martin for going down the crossover road in a 2015 presentation held during the 570S launch.

On a separate occasion, Woking explained the young age of their road car division means the clientele would be confused by the introduction of a McLaren SUV. So it's not that McLaren wouldn't enjoy making profit out of high ground clearance operations, but it simply can't afford it, at least for now.

Voices who claim the British automaker will never place its badge on a crossover are wrong, not about the idea itself, but concerning their certainty.

McLaren wouldn't be the first, nor the last automaker that ends up designing a vehicle the company itself has denied in the past. Not everybody has a Maserati to rely on for preserving the brand spirit.

Don't get me wrong, I never enjoy the detached driving feeling an SUV offers when on the road. For me, that kind of distorted connection between man and machine is almost as bothering as the other extreme of the ground clearance scale, namely street cars with a ground clearance bellow 100 mm and the lack of a lift system.

However, I know that there are many scenarios in which an SUV is the best possible transportation solution. For instance, in a few decades from now, autonomous cars will have probably secured a respectable share of the market.

I'll always try to steer clear of such contraptions, but I'd be silly to ignore engineering progress just because I get my kicks out of handling the steering wheel on my own. Sooner or later, aficionados such as myself will be forced to buy at least one autonomous vehicle, while leaving the financial situation of the family to decide if a human-driven vehicle is also part of the garage.

Now, in a car that drives itself, what good is a ride height smaller than that of an SUV?

Sure, Porsche is working on a cruise control system that aims to give passengers, driver included, thrills through the bends. And I expect that to result in a Panamera that drives itself with a speedy twist.

Thank you, Zuffenhausen, but no thank you. If I want a roller coaster ride, I'll be sure to hit Disneyland with my loved ones. On the road, however, I'd like the autonomous vehicle that takes my kids to school to be an SUV, so they don't have to stay home whenever global warming decides to show its effects.

So, in an ideal world, I'd easily buy an autonomous McLaren SUV and a Porsche 911 using the three-pedal setup I grew up with. I'm not even worried that the little ones might feel cramped in the back of the Neunelfer - I'm sure it will grow just enough to make them feel cozy by the time this scenario has a fair chance of becoming reality.

Why do I want to see a McLaren SUV on the road, or on whatever surface we'll have available in a few decades from now? Because these Brits build predictable, speed-efficient and ultimately dependable cars.

And thanks to their attention to customer feedback, I'm sure the ownership experience would be free of unwanted surprises.

I'm certain that a McLaren SUV wouldn't add extra weight for the sake of a Bentley's lavish nature, while it also wouldn't draw more attention that necessary such as a Lamborghini. Heck, I wouldn't even have to worry about the future of its builder, as it happens with Aston Martin. It wouldn't have a mainstream diesel version either.

What's wrong with the Cayenne's oil-burning diesel, you ask? For one thing, whenever I play with the configurator, I see myself forced to think about the resale value and how nobody will want to pay a high price for my full-kitted Turbo S when other Cayennes, albeit with diesel engines, cost so little in comparison. This might sound ridiculous, but trust me, it isn't.

Returning to McLaren, buying an autonomous SUV build by them means my family would enjoy an extremely precise high-tech transportation instrument. And that's something I'd like to think about while shifting gears in the other car.
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About the author: Andrei Tutu
Andrei Tutu profile photo

In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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