McLaren Hints At Hybrid All Wheel Drive Systems For Future Performance Gains Photo:

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Kez Casey | Jul, 10 2017 | 0 Comments

British supercar builder McLaren admits that adding more power may not be the answer to creating faster cars, but traction might be.

In an interview with Car and Driver, McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt admits that simply increasing engine outputs isn't enough to make its current range of rear-wheel drive cars faster, though there may still be some potential in that area.

“We’re not there yet, but I’d say we’re getting close to the limit,” CEO Mike Flewitt said at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed, discussing the potential for two driven wheels to handle even more grunt.

Despite that, the brand isn’t ready to follow Lamborghini’s lead with a full range of all-wheel drive supercars, with Flewitt adding “We’re not planning [all-wheel drive] right now, but we’re conscious it’s a direction that we may well want to go in.”

McLaren 720S
McLaren 720S

When McLaren does start to roll out all-paw traction to its supercar range you can expect a more innovative approach than a simple mechanical linkage running from front to back. “From an engineering point of view there’s no point bringing a shaft down the center of the car,” Flewitt explained.

That means the weight otherwise associated with traditional all-wheel drive hardware will most likely be displaced by a hybrid alternative, providing additional power on demand to an electric front axle or twin-motor system.

McLaren is no stranger to performance hybrid systems, having pioneered the technology on its P1 flagship, though that car retained a traditional mid-engined, rear-wheel drive layout and used its combined 673kW/900Nm output to push from 0-100 km/h in 2.8 seconds.

McLaren P1
McLaren P1

McLaren wouldn’t be the first to use an electrically front-driven axle in a supercar, with the Porsche 918 Spyder and Honda NSX having beaten the British firm to the punch.

Flewitt also raised the possibility of deleting the traditional rear subframe construction in favour of a more race car-like mounting system that would attach the engine directly to the carbon fibre tub.

The obvious benefit comes from associated weight savings, though the treatment may be reserved for McLaren’s track-focussed special editions, with Flewitt highlighting refinement issues as a stumbling-block to introducing the system across the entire range.

MORE: McLaren News and Reviews

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