McLaren P1

 04 mclarenp1 paris2012 hres Lead

With the McLaren P1concept supercar, the legendary English automaker sets another benchmark.

With its sparkling history of building the fastest Grand Prix cars, McLaren set itself the task of making the best driver’s car in the world with the McLaren P1. This flagship two-seater uses a modified version of the company’s 12C’s twin turbo V8 engine mated to a Formula 1-style Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) hybrid boost system. This allows power to jump from 600 bhp to about 800 bhp at 9,000 rpm. The concept car has been designed with aerodynamic performance in mind and the chassis spent many hours in the wind tunnel and in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) aerodynamics modelling. The P1 has more downforce than any current road car—600 kg is achieved well below maximum speed. (That is approximately five times as much downforce as a McLaren 12C’s.) The weight of this concept vehicle is kept low by its super-strong but light carbon-fibre monocoque. If rumours are to be believed, the P1 will have a top speed of 385 kmph and will take under three seconds to go from 0­-100 kmph.

Despite the thundering performance, the P1 is also a refined and comfortable high-speed supercar. The design gives it a natural, almost organic, quality. McLaren wanted to expose the carbon structure underneath, not only showing exactly where the air was going­­­­—through the door ducts into the main radiators—but also to break up the visual mass of the body and accentuate the cab-forward stance, giving the car a fighter aircraft look. In front, the glasshouse was inspired by the canopies of fighter jets. The windscreen is deeper than it is wide, which creates a feeling of airiness inside. The LED headlights, with their speed marque DRL, are extremely small in size but bright enough to dazzle jealous onlookers.

The P1 is the spiritual successor to the legendary three-seater McLaren F1 supercar of the 1990s. It will be left-hand drive and production will be limited to only 500 cars. It will certainly burn a hole in your pocket too. Who said the best things in life are free? Whack him!