As part of our coverage of the Paris Motor Show we spent quite a long time on the McLaren Automotive stand, surely one of the coolest, if the not the coolest, there. Normally a 2008-season F1 car painted Volcano Orange, fitted with carbon fibre tyres, and hung on the wall would be enough to stop any car enthusiast in his tracks. Add in two MP4-12C Spiders and a MP4-12C coupe, both in the same iconic orange colour, and youre starting to get the average petrolhead drooling. Throw in the sensational P1 hypercar, and youve created a feeding frenzy the like of which I havent seen for a long, long time.
Its not just that itll be fast, although rumour control has it fitted with a much-modified version of the 12Cs V8 engine thatll kick out 800bhp. Nor that its alleged to have an F-style KERS system thatll add anything from 100-200bhp at the touch of a button. Nor that its so exclusive that McLaren are vetting the customers, many of whom are expected to extensively customise it. Nor even that it is crafted by McLarens engineering elves from exotic materials like carbon fibre, magnesium, titanium, and gold foil.
No, the frenzy is because the P1 will be the first road car to have been modelled extensively in the wind tunnel, meaning that it features a Drag Reduction System like the F1 cars, active aerodynamics, and an unbelievable 600kgs of downforce at well below maximum speed. This is the same as the current MP4-12C GT3 race car and is considerably more than anything else on the road today.
We cant tell you what the maximum speed is because McLaren are being understandably shy, but sources out it at around the 240mph mark, with the all-important 0-62mph sprint taking under three seconds. Anyway, its not about raw figures, which are, according to one senior Mclaren executive that I spoke to, just bragging rights.
No, the aim is much more noble and grown-up. Ron Dennis, Executive Chairman of the McLaren group, said they have set out to is to make it the P1 the most enjoyable, most satisfying, and fastest-ever supercar round a track. Big claims, but if anyone can do it, McLaren can; their access to top-flight F1 engineers, materials, and facilities is utterly unrivalled.
The focus and laterally thinking that has gone into the P1 is astonishing. As an example, the rear spoiler will only deploy to its full 300mm setting when the P1 is in track mode, something that the gossips claim will happen automatically when the on-board GPS senses that youve arrived there.
There are also moveable flaps in the front spoiler that channel the incoming air to create the most effect ground effect; in fact, the car is riddled with clever aero-features, all of whom are black carbon fibre on the Paris show car, just so you know whats there for sound engineering purposes and what is there just to clothe the mechanical bits.
And the rear end of the car is essentially missing, all in the name of air expulsion 800+bhp creates a lot of hot air. This is a clever solution but gives McLaren a problem, because it doesnt leave any room for conventional rear lights. Theyve used a swoosh of LEDs instead, which give the full spectrum of performance and indications to other drivers, is lighter, simpler, and looks utterly divine.
The interior is a two-seater (no central driving position like the original F1) and is likely to focus on performance, rather than luxury, although the chaps in McLaren Special Operations (, or MSO, the department responsible for the one-off McLaren X-1, amongst others) would, Im sure, fit whatever the customer asks for as long as they had a healthy enough bank balance.
Talking of which, we cant give you a price, because McLaren arent talking? Others are though, and while we cant say for sure, the McLaren F1 was $1,000,000 and its unlikely that theyll charge any less for the P1. Most pundits seem to have settled on around 800,000, which isnt exactly small change, but which might just be the automotive bargain of the year given the performance and all-round competence the P1 is claimed to deliver.
Anyway, kick back and enjoy our exclusive up-close-and-personal shots of the P1 and decide for yourself and if it wouldnt appear in your fantasy garage, what would? Wed love to know.