McLaren Believes It Has the “Only Authentic Sports Car Setup in the Market”

On the one hand, you have Horacio Pagani, founder of Pagani Automobili, who builds some of the world’s most exotic supercars but says of the Porsche 918, “Porsche is the greatest — beyond a doubt. I own a 918.”

Speaking of his own Ferrari F12 tdf’s arrival, Pagani says, “When I uncovered the car and saw the Ferrari logo, I had the urge to kiss it.”

“I was the first to order it in Europe,” Pagani says of the new Ford GT. “I like the fact AMG is making a car with F1 technology,” Pagani says of the Mercedes-AMG Project One. “I will buy one.”

Pagani’s openness toward competing supercars is refreshing.

On the other hand, McLaren’s chief engineer for the brand’s “entry-level” Sports Series cars, Paul Burnham, tells CarAdvice, “At McLaren, we like to think we’ve got the only authentic sports car setup in the market.”

They wear their Union Jacks with pride in Woking.

McLaren’s case for such an audacious claim rests on four characteristics. First, there’s an all carbon-fiber tub, which knocks just about every historical sports car out of the running for authentic sports car status.

Second, McLaren’s a believer in hydraulic steering. Fair point, but McLaren may end up eating those words if the company ever follows the EPAS route of most automakers.

Third, McLaren credits its cars’ V8 engines. Retroactively and futuristically cross the Lotus Elise off your sports car list. Also remove the new Ford GT that Horacio Pagani paid for with his own money.

Finally, McLaren associates authentic sports cars with midship engine placement, as if the Chevrolet Corvette needed another reason to stand outside McLaren’s sports-car sheepfold.McLaren’s Burnham made these comments while discussing the separation of Sports (570S and 540C, for example) and Super Series (720S) cars. McLaren has generated such high performance with the Sports Series cars that distinguishing the upper-tier cars is a challenge. “It’s one of the reasons why the 570S gets slimmer tyres than the new 720S Super Series car, otherwise there isn’t a lot that separates these two cars, as far as grip levels go.”

McLaren’s aim, Burnham says, is to have a lower level of car that’s “more exploitable at road speeds,” and a higher level that’s “about pure performance.”

McLaren may feel the company is in a league of its own when it comes to a level of sports car purity that’s clearly unobtainable by the humble Porsche 911 GT3 RSs of the world, but at least the company’s not so presumptuous as to believe its cars are perfect. Asked about decreasing turbo lag, Burnham speaks of improvements but acknowledges, “It’s still a turbo car and there is a limit to how far you can go, but there are things you can do to improve either the reality or the perception of lag.”

Ah yes, McLaren can improve the way you perceive turbo lag. It’d be hard to do any more than that when you’re already the builder of the only authentic sports cars in the world.

[Images: McLaren]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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