Automotive

Up close and personal with McLaren's incredible P1

Up close and personal with McL...
The P1's central exhaust is made of Inconel(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The P1's central exhaust is made of Inconel(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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All of the P1's scoops and ducts are functional(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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All of the P1's scoops and ducts are functional(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The McLaren badge sits proud at the rear of the car (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The McLaren badge sits proud at the rear of the car (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The P1 is powered by a hybrid-V8 system (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The P1 is powered by a hybrid-V8 system (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The P1's aggressive splitter sits incredibly low to the ground (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The P1's aggressive splitter sits incredibly low to the ground (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
That's a grin that won't disappear any time soon(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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That's a grin that won't disappear any time soon(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Getting into the P1's cabin is tricky for taller people (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Getting into the P1's cabin is tricky for taller people (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
McLaren's DRS and KERS systems draw on the brand's F1 experiencePhoto: Loz Blain/Gizmag
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McLaren's DRS and KERS systems draw on the brand's F1 experiencePhoto: Loz Blain/Gizmag
Alcantara and carbon fiber are everywhere inside the P1 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Alcantara and carbon fiber are everywhere inside the P1 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
McLaren wants its car to be drivable on the road as well as the track (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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McLaren wants its car to be drivable on the road as well as the track (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The paddles behind the wheel are mounted on a rocker (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The paddles behind the wheel are mounted on a rocker (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The P1's brakes are produced by AkebonoPhoto: Loz Blain/Gizmag
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The P1's brakes are produced by AkebonoPhoto: Loz Blain/Gizmag
The build quality on the P1 is exceptional(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The build quality on the P1 is exceptional(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Even the P1's wing mirrors have been designed to scythe through the air (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Even the P1's wing mirrors have been designed to scythe through the air (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The car is surprisingly compact in the flesh(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The car is surprisingly compact in the flesh(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The P1's sculpted flanks aren't only functional - they're beautiful (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The P1's sculpted flanks aren't only functional - they're beautiful (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
That massive rear diffuser sucks the car to the road at high speed (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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That massive rear diffuser sucks the car to the road at high speed (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The P1's central exhaust is made of Inconel (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The P1's central exhaust is made of Inconel (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The P1's central exhaust is made of Inconel(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The P1's central exhaust is made of Inconel(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Getting close with the P1 reveals the incredible details that set it apart from "normal" supercars (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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Getting close with the P1 reveals the incredible details that set it apart from "normal" supercars (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
In case you weren't convinced of this P1's authenticity (Photo: Scott Collie/Gizmag.com)
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In case you weren't convinced of this P1's authenticity (Photo: Scott Collie/Gizmag.com)
The attention to detail in all of McLaren's cars is incredible (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The attention to detail in all of McLaren's cars is incredible (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The hydraulic suspension system is all controlled by one central unit, and each corner is connected(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The hydraulic suspension system is all controlled by one central unit, and each corner is connected(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The V8 breathes through twin exhaust pipes(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The V8 breathes through twin exhaust pipes(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The MP4-12C's V8 is twin-turbocharged(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The MP4-12C's V8 is twin-turbocharged(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The 12C's chassis is built around a carbon "MonoCell" (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The 12C's chassis is built around a carbon "MonoCell" (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
A 3.8-liter V8 is at the heart of the McLaren MP4-12C, seen here without its body(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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A 3.8-liter V8 is at the heart of the McLaren MP4-12C, seen here without its body(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
As well as providing downforce, the P1's aerodynamics are focused on cooling the 3.8-liter V8 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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As well as providing downforce, the P1's aerodynamics are focused on cooling the 3.8-liter V8 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The P1's rear wing pops up depending on which mode is engaged in the car (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
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The P1's rear wing pops up depending on which mode is engaged in the car (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)

McLaren's P1 needs little introduction: the hybrid-V8 powered hypercar sits in a realm where rivals are scarce, and performance figures are almost beyond comprehension – 0-100 km/h (62 mph) takes just 2.8 seconds, and the car will cover the quarter mile in 9.8 seconds from a standing start. The P1 is not just about crazy acceleration numbers though, it is a product of McLaren's impressive motorsports history, with a focus on pushing the edge of what a car can do through aerodynamics and innovative design. Gizmag took a close look at the incredible P1 at the opening of McLaren's new dealership in Melbourne, Australia.

The P1 is powered by a hybrid system, which combines a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 engine with an electric motor for combined outputs of 903 hp (673 kW) and 900 Nm of torque. Both motors can operate independently of each other – P1 drivers can cruise on pure battery power for more than 6.2 miles (10 km) before the battery is depleted and the petrol engine kicks in.

The P1's rear wing pops up depending on which mode is engaged in the car (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
The P1's rear wing pops up depending on which mode is engaged in the car (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)

Using hybrid power isn't just about economy in the P1. When the car is making the most of both motors at once, the electric motor provides torque fill, providing instant throttle response while the petrol engine's turbos spool up. The electric motor can also provide "negative torque," which allows engine revs to drop more quickly between gears, for faster gearshifts.

According to McLaren's Head of Sales and Operations for Asia Pacific, George Biggs, the interaction between the P1's petrol and electric motors provides linear power because the electric motor is effectively filling in the torque curve.

"That's what the drivers really feel, they really feel you can just keep on accelerating."

Getting close with the P1 reveals the incredible details that set it apart from "normal" supercars (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
Getting close with the P1 reveals the incredible details that set it apart from "normal" supercars (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)

As a brand with an illustrious racing heritage, all of McLaren's cars embody a focus on the small details that allow a car to go faster. The MP4-12C and 650S use a magnesium bulkhead and aluminum wiring because of the weight savings they provide over more conventional designs, and carbon fiber is used extensively throughout the brand's cars because it is so light and stiff.

When you look at the P1's body, the lightweight weave is everywhere. McLaren's Executive Director of Global Sales and Marketing, Jolyon Nash, says that any McLaren needs to balance beauty and functionality.

"The beauty of the P1 is that everything there is for a reason", says Nash, "it's there to maximize downforce through aerodynamics, to maximize engine cooling through aerodynamics. It's very, very functional".

As well as providing downforce, the P1's aerodynamics are focused on cooling the 3.8-liter V8 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
As well as providing downforce, the P1's aerodynamics are focused on cooling the 3.8-liter V8 (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)

Functional benefits aside, the P1's design is eye catching, and full of incredible details. The car is compact, but has serious presence thanks to its broad hips, massive wheels and hunkered-down stance. The whole car looks like it's being sucked onto the road, and it is, generating up to 600 kg of downforce, which Biggs say is "unprecedented for a road car."

Lifting the P1's (very light) door reveals an interior that draws on the MP4-12C and 650S' layout, albeit in a more stripped back form. Touch points are all trimmed in Alcantara, while carbon fiber is used for the "floating" center console, which houses a vertical screen and switches that drivers use to control the car's power delivery and suspension setup.

Put simply, the P1 is an extraordinary machine. Unfortunately, all 375 P1's are accounted for, so if you've got the urge to own one you're out of luck – after all, we don't expect McLaren owners to be offering their cars up on Craigslist when its time to move on.

Unfortunately for me, that also means my first chance to see the P1 is also likely to be my last. As the grin below should show you, it was brilliant while it lasted.

That's a grin that won't disappear any time soon(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)
That's a grin that won't disappear any time soon(Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)

Check out more photos from our close encounter with the P1 in the gallery.

3 comments
Island Architect
The Ford Crestliner revisited. Of course they need a Chartreuse version. b
f8lee
So I can shop at the grocery store, which is only 3 miles away, on pure battery power but on the weekend can take a cross-country jaunt with speed and style! Cool!
McDesign
I have this McLaren I can drive - likely as close as I will get! http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1087777_half-scale-mclaren-can-am-racer-is-the-best-go-kart-ever-ebay-find http://www.car-revs-daily.com/2014/04/30/mclaren-m8b-kart-seeking-posh-home-mclaren-owner-strongly-preferred/ Forrest