McLaren P1 is a Paris Motor ‘Show Stopper’

McLaren P1 is a Paris Motor ‘Show Stopper’

With a power-to-weight ratio of over 600 hp per ton, the McLaren P1 supercar debuted today at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, though more as a tease than anything else.

After a short-lived speech, the company announced that the car’s “second chapter” will unfold next year in Geneva. While that certainly leaves much to be desired, there is also a swath of new information about the car – which is expected to go on sale in late 2013.

First, the stated power-to-weight ratio would indicate that the car will have something around 720 hp in total. Information about the engine and drivetrain weren’t discussed today, but the car is expected to use some sort of hybrid system.

As the brand said before today’s debut, the car has a single, simple goal: to be the world’s best “driver’s car” both on the road and track.

“The McLaren P1 will be the result of 50 years of racing and road car heritage,” McLaren Automotive executive chairman Ron Dennis said. “Twenty years ago we raised the supercar performance bar with the McLaren F1 and our goal with the McLaren P1 is to redefine it once again.”

Despite being a design study for now, the brand did divulge one particularly juicy piece of information: well below its top speed, the P1 is said to generate more than 1,320 lbs of downforce. Not only is that approximately five times more than the less expensive 12C sports car, but more than any other road car today. 

With all this power and performance, some might feign away in favor of something tamer, worried that it’s too much car. But program director  Paul Mackenzie says otherwise.

“Our aim is to deliver the very best driver’s car on the road, one focused on the elite enthusiast driver, but you certainly don’t have to be a racing driver or a professional to enjoy it. Like all McLarens, the McLaren P1 is also technologically at the absolute cutting edge,” he said.

Part and parcel with being a car anyone with the means would feel comfortable climbing into, the car incorporates a carbon fiber “Mono-Cage” structure different from the 12C.  Included in that, a carbon roll bar over the cabin to further protect in case of a rollover.

Criticized by some before its launch for looking too much like the 12C, the brand says the P1 is “engineering design led,” meaning it put style second to function.

That function comes into play during spirited driving as the teardrop shape pushes air around the body while scooping it into the engine compartment.  Apart from the multiple functional contours, the rear wing also automatically adjusts to optimize downforce and enhance aerodynamics.

With many more details to come on the car, there’s a lot to look forward to. McLaren might have a winner on its hands, but there’s sure to be a storm brewing with others like the Porsche 918 Spyder coming up quickly.



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