Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Proof - The McLaren P1 Is Wonderfully Bonkers

McLaren P1
The McLaren MP4-12C has had slightly mixed reactions since it came out last year. While no-one doubts its abilities to ride like a Roller and fly like a Fezza, internet and armchair pundits alike reckoned it was too boring for a supercar. I disagree, seeing as it's very low, a very sexy shape and has huge air intakes and an airbrake on it, and so far nobody in a position to change the look of the 12C has improved it. Since then, McLaren has unveiled the, er, highly personalised c. £5million X1 at Pebble Beach, which showed doubters that their designers have a wild side after all. Nevertheless, when it comes to the less unique production models, some people are still crying out for a true successor to the legendary McLaren F1. If that's you, shush. Because here it is.

Despite the dramatic proportions, this is actually shorter than a new Porsche 911, according to Autocar
Of course, internetters have known this car to be on its way for a while now, under the codename P12, but until now it was all rumours and camouflage. Leaked out early like every other new car these days, it is now clear in these three pictures that for McLaren's hypercar, Frank Stephenson and his design team haven't held back, with creases, curves, and a nod or two to the mighty F1, including the central roof scoop (although matching central driver's seat will be missing from this car) all making it onto the Surrey company's flagship model. Called the P1, it is designed and engineered - much like the F1 was by Gordon Murray - to be the ultimate driver's car on road and track, and comes with an extensively modified version of the 12C's 3.8-litre V8 Twin-Turbo, supposedly making 800bhp instead of the 600 or so it currently makes in their 458 rival. No doubt this tremendous amount of thrust will be delivered to the rear wheels via a 7-speed paddleshift gearbox, maybe even the 12C's one with its F1-style "Seamless Shift" for smooth, uninterrupted gear changes. Also borrowed from the world of Formula 1 is a device soon to become popular - even commonplace - in hypercar world: KERS. Rather than adding the 80bhp of the current cars, it will supposedly add twice as much, as per the 2014 F1 regulations, meaning that you occasionally have 960 horsepower to play with! Teamed with extreme power is a kerbweight said to be under 2700lbs, or ~1225kg, making it about 100kg lighter than the 12C it's probably based on.

I'll leave jokes regarding the size and placement of the exhaust pipe to you. And no, I don't know where the indicators are either...
At the back, there is the notable presence of a huge and complex diffuser akin to the one on their 12C GT racing car, along with the notable absence of a rear wing. While many hypercars since the Enzo Ferrari have done this, the MP4-12C had one across the top that also acted as an air-driven airbrake. Why omit that feature on something even faster? Well actually, if you look closely above the high-mounted exhaust, there appears to be a panel gap running along the top of the rear deck. Pagani Huayra-style Active Aerodynamics, perhaps? I don't see why not.

UPDATE (26/9): 7 more pictures have leaked out, mostly showing the suspected Active Aero to be a Veyron-style pop-up spoiler/airbrake. See here.

The McLaren P1 will be unveiled for real at the Paris Motor Show (29/9 - 14/10). According to Autocar, it will cost a suitably hypercar-ish £800,000 and McLaren will only make 500 of them, possibly only to be sold to select existing customers and high-profile collectors. What we do know is that it will be in production next year, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of McLaren. Oh, and we know it will look like this, because when posted the pictures, they were taken down again. You don't do that with speculative renderings. You do that with embargo-busting leaks.

So here it is. The McLaren P1. Your new dream supercar. And it comes from Woking.

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