SPECIALIST sports car brands Ferrari and McLaren have shunned the idea of producing an SUV, instead remaining focused on building dedicated supercars.
Speaking at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, executives from both brands dismissed the chances of an SUV wearing either of the badges that also have a rich heritage in Formula One racing.
“You'd have to shoot me first,” said Ferrari’s senior vice-president of design, Flavio Manzoni. “Ferrari is not a follower; Ferrari does not follow the standard trends. What is this, the SUV? It is a marketing trend because the companies know that it is a kind of volume opportunity, but this is not our spirit.”
Despite rivals such as Porsche producing an SUV – and Lamborghini currently developing one – Manzoni said a Ferrari SUV would not adhere to the brand’s principals and expectations.
“Can you imagine the best performance with a very high centre of gravity or very high h-point [hip point]? It's absurd. So we work every day to reduce the weight, to lower the engine, to lower the h-point, to improve the performance to make it more efficient. The SUV is the negation of this.”
Arch-rival McLaren also dismissed the idea of jumping aboard the SUV bandwagon, despite global growth that has many carmakers fumbling to produce more. In Australia, SUV sales have more than doubled in six years to the point where they now account for more than one in three sales.
“We’re very focused on sports cars, supercars, performance cars,” said Jolyon Nash, McLaren executive director of global sales and marketing. “I think we’ve got a fairly clear view and a clear understanding of what McLaren represents, what its DNA is all about and for us that’s sports cars, supercars. We don’t see an SUV fitting into that.”
Nash said that while other brands used SUVs to increase sales and amortise investments in engines and components, McLaren was a niche manufacturer working profitably on low volumes.
“We’ve got a robust enough business model that we can be profitable building 1500-1600 cars, so we don’t need to build a new pillar of vehicle like an SUV to ensure our long-term viability.”
Another brand determined not to produce an SUV is Aston Martin – and that’s despite revealing the DBX concept car in 2015.
But it comes down to the definition.
Aston Martin director of product development, Ian Minards, said the DBX was a crossover, not a traditional SUV (if there is such a thing).
“It is a crossover car,” said Minards. “SUVs are regarded by the public as big, high-riding cars … our concept … was a crossover.”