McLaren P1 photos released, to be revealed in Paris

The McLaren P1, McLaren’s newest supercar, is set to be revealed September 27th at the Paris Motor Show, Mondial de l’Automobile 2012.

Twenty years have passed since McLaren released the iconic F1 road car and much has changed in that time. Government regulations concerning emissions and safety are more strict, conspiring to increase vehicle weight and decrease performance. Customers expect more refinement, yet demand more performance. Hybrids, specifically performance-oriented hybrids, are becoming more commonplace.

Rumors suggest that the P1 will produce some 850 HP (see EVO article here) to 1000 HP (previous OctaneNation post here). What the rumors have in common is a modified version of the MP4-12C’s M838T flat-plane twin-turbocharged V8 combined with a 100-200 HP KERS-like hybrid electrical assist.

The F1 had 618 HP at 7400 RPM with a 7500 RPM redline, and weighed approximately 2500 lb, yielding a power-to-weight ratio of 4.0 lb/HP. To achieve comparable acceleration performance the McLaren P1 could weigh as much as 3200 lb (with 800 HP) or even 4000 lb (with 1000 HP). By comparison the 595 HP MP4-12 has a power-to-weight ratio of about 5.0 lb/hp.

It’s unlikely that the new McLaren P1 would weigh as much as 4000 lb (the Bugatti Veyron weighs some 4200 lb). McLaren’s design philosophy is much more about balanced performance and carrying around ‘excess’ weight would be very much against their design goals, even if straight-line performance would be more than acceptable. It’s clear McLaren isn’t going to enter the ‘most’ numbers race (fastest, quickest, most powerful) that Bugatti is keen on doing. Producing the fastest, quickest, and most powerful vehicle can adversely affect not-easily-quantified vehicle dynamics.

McLaren’s Automotive Managing Director Antony Sheriff supports this by saying:

Our aim is not necessarily to be the fastest in absolute top speed but to be the quickest and most rewarding series production road car on a circuit. It is the true test of a supercar’s all round ability and a much more important technical statement. Our goal is to make the McLaren P1 the most exciting, most capable, most technologically advanced and most dynamically accomplished supercar ever made.

On the 27th we’ll have a clearer view of what McLaren has achieved regarding the raw-numbers but it will be some time before the P1’s dynamics are appreciated. Production will start later next year.

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