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First picture of McLaren’s new baby

This is your first official look at the new ‘baby McLaren’ - the Porsche 911 Turbo-rivalling two-seater, codenamed P13 and set to land early next year. And we now know its real name, too: this week, Woking revealed that its most affordable sports car ‘will be known as the McLaren Sports Series’.

Confused? We were too, not least because ‘Sports sounds like a potential Jenson Button menswear range. So we gave McLaren a call and were cheerily instructed that the name of the entire range will be ‘Sports Series’, and each car within it (a coupe, and drop-top spider, and other as yet unknown versions) will get individual titles.

Beyond that unusual naming strategy, here’s what we know about the junior McLaren, which is expected to arrive around April 2015.

At the heart of the car is a spin-off of the carbon fibre tub known as MonoCell in the old 12C and current 650S, and MonoCage in the hybrid P1, on account of its integral roof structure. That’s right: McLaren’s Porsche 911 Turbo and Mercedes-AMG GT S rival will use super-stiff carbon construction - a wild departure from the aluminum monocoques favoured by its rivals.

The body panels themselves will be aluminum: those in the 650S are carbon fibre. It’s said to cost two-thirds of a 650S’s ask, which pitches it at around £135,000 - smack-bang between the Porsche 911 Turbo and faster 911 Turbo S.

Powering the whole shebang is a bespoke iteration of McLaren’s familiar 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine. McLaren told TG earlier this year: “All our cars will use the V8, with the same block dimensions and bore centres, so it’s a related version in the P13 [the Sports Series codename]. After all it’s only three years old, and has lots of development left in it.”

Pinching the pricier cars’ engine will mean nicking their gearbox too - a seven-speed dual-clutch paddleshift job will continue to be McLaren’s one and only transmission.

To put clear water between the Sports Series cars and the 650S, insiders point to a power output in the region of 450-500bhp. A chunk down on the 512bhp 991 Turbo, yes, but the carbon-tubbed, rear-drive McLaren will be lighter than the all-wheel drive, all-metal Porsche. Game on!

If you’re expecting some sort of wieldy Cayman-sized sportster, think again: McLaren says the two-seater Sports Series will be about the same size as a 650S.

“By the time you’ve packaged that engine and two people, that’s how big it has to be,” CEO Mike Flewitt explained. “We always make the exterior as small as possible. We didn’t make the 650S big just to get road presence - that’s not us.”

Under the skin, the Sport Series gets yet more goodies from its big brothers. McLaren’s ProActive Chassis Control system is an anti-roll bar-free suspension which uses hydraulic fluid pressure to stiffen each shock absorber independently, which is why the 12C, 650S and even fire-spitting P1 have become legendary for their decent ride comfort when you’re cruising, and super-stiff behavior when you’re gunning it.

It’ll be fascinating to see how the Sports Series Maccas get on against the new hybrid Honda NSX V6, which is also due in mid-2015. Why? Well, from next year, McLaren’s recently rubbish F1 team will switch from Mercedes to Honda engines. We smell one hell of a road-car grudge match on the way…

McLaren won’t start pumping out the Sports Series models until the last of the 375 P1 hypercars has been sent to its lucky owner - unlocking the necessary factory capacity for what will be McLaren’s biggest-selling motor car ever. From Stuttgart to Tokyo via Modena, they’ll be watching with interest. So will we.

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