BMW and McLaren first got together in the early ’90s when the Germans supplied the 618-hp, 6.1-liter V-12 that powered the Brits’ 231-mph McLaren F1 supercar, but the tie between the two all but withered away after that. Or so we thought. Word is BMW has gone to McLaren for help on a new halo model, a supercar that would be based on the next-generation McLaren 650S.
About a year ago, BMW’s recently discharged chairman, Norbert Reithofer, nixed the plan for the BMW M100 supercar, a lightweight, mid-engine two-seater with a 750-hp, twin-turbo V-8 and adaptive aerodynamics, as well as a concessionary proposal that would have rebodied and retooled a BMW i8. So Klaus Fröhlich, head of BMW research and development, met with McLaren in hopes of creating a high-performance halo car for BMW that would complement—not challenge— the i8. The idea of building a BMW-branded supercar based on a McLaren carbon-fiber monocoque that wouldn’t tarnish the brand image of either BMW or McLaren came to life, and the project is now underway.
BMW plans to use its new 4.0-liter V-8 engine fitted with four turbochargers—two exhaust-driven, two electrically
operated—and the total power output could be tweaked as marketing requires, with the stillborn M100’s 750-hp mark set as the baseline for now. (At the moment, a plug-in hybrid or fully electric version is not on the agenda.) A coupe has first priority, but a convertible might also be in the cards. The start of production is penciled in for late 2018, which means the timing could be right for BMW to take advantage of McLaren’s updated sports car architecture, which will be going under the next McLaren 650S.
The suspension, steering, and brakes on this still-nameless joint venture will be of McLaren design, but it should be dialed in with a BMW-specific calibration. BMW design cues will be worked into the exterior and interior so the message of this supercar won’t be reduced to a BMW-powered McLaren. Think custom door treatments, unique aero concepts, and BMW-supplied infotainment, connectivity, and assistance systems. The plan is to reveal
a concept car at the 2017 Frankfurt show and to have the production version, priced well above $225,000, at dealerships for model year 2019.