McLaren MP4-12C Production

Though you could hardly call it "cheap" by most standards, when McLaren Automotive booted up with the launch of the MP4-12C three years ago, it was, relatively speaking, the most affordable McLaren yet. Cheaper than the original McLaren F1, cheaper than the SLR it made for Mercedes-Benz, and certainly cheaper than any of the racing machinery for which the firm is known. From there, however, things only got more expensive. The 12C Spider arrived with a higher list price than the coupe, the P1 that much more so, and the 650S slots in between the two. As we reported last week, there's a new flagship codenamed P15 in the works that will be less expensive than the P1, but still significantly more than the 12C or 650S. So when will McLaren offer something a little bit more obtainable?

That's the next project in the pipeline. Following the internal nomenclature that dubbed the 12C as P11, the 650S as P11M, P1 as P12 and the aforementioned upcoming flagship as P15, the forthcoming "baby McLaren" is known around Woking as the P13. (Which only makes us wonder what the P14 might be, but that's a question for another time.) What we'll be looking at with the P13 (whatever it will be called once it reaches production) is a two-door supercar based on the same carbon Monocell that underpins the rest of the McLaren lineup but will not, contrary to what Car and Driver predicts, be substantially smaller than the 12C.

What it will be is cheaper – at least, relatively speaking, that is. In correspondence with Autoblog, McLaren communications chief Wayne Bruce confirms that the P13 will carry a sticker price starting "from around two thirds of what a 12C would cost you today." That would place it around $160,000 (less than what C/D forecasts) and square between the latest Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S or the V10 and V10 Plus versions of the Audi R8.

"Guessing that its styling might be influenced by P1's, or indeed a 650S," we're told, "is as obvious as saying it'll have two seats." McLaren also confirms that it "will be offered in more than one bodystyle," which we'd take to mean coupe and convertible versions as are offered on the 12C and 650S, but leaves the door open to all sorts of additional possibilities in the future. We're told not to expect the P13 to debut this year, but given McLaren's cadence of revealing one new model per annum, we'd look forward to seeing it sometime in 2015.

Whenever it does debut, power will in all likelihood come from a detuned version of the same 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 and seven-speed DCT which McLaren developed with Ricardo for the 12C and which has, in some form or another, powered every McLaren road car since. But just how much power it will produce and to what performance targets remain to be seen. Previous reports suggested around 450 horsepower, but our compatriots at Car and Driver expect closer to 500, a level of output McLaren would need to keep up (in bragging rights if not on the road) with the 520hp 911 Turbo, 560hp Turbo S, 525hp R8 V10 and 550hp R8 V10 Plus. It wouldn't want to come too close to the 616 hp offered in the 12C, though, even if and when it does ultimately give way to the 640hp 650S.