McLaren P1 winter testing, video and photo

McLaren will begin deliveries of the P1 supercar this summer. Its price of $1.34 million buys a car equipped for road and track, the company says, and “just” 375 cars will be built.

McLaren will begin deliveries of the P1 supercar this summer. Its price of $1.34 million buys a car equipped for road and track, the company says, and “just” 375 cars will be built.

P1 winter testing video:


The McLaren P1 is intended to be “the best driver’s car in the world on road and track,” the company says. Its price of $1.34 million buys a car equipped for road and track and “just” 375 cars will be built in the new production center in Woking, Surrey, UK, later this year.

The company was testing its 903-horsepower, plug-in electric supercar in northern Sweden at the Arctic Circle.

The P1, so named for “first place” or “position one” in Formula 1 racing. It’s an earned badge for the company, which in its 47-year F1 history has 182 Grand Prix victories and 155 pole positions to-date. The name also company history: the McLaren F1 was known internally as Project 1, or P1.

The powertrain is a McLaren-developed IPAS gasoline-(petrol) electric powertrain with revisions to the company’s 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8. It is coupled to a single electric motor and small but-high energy battery pack. Combined power output is 903 hp.

As important as absolute power is the electric motor’s ability to provide instant torque. 0-62 mph takes less than 3 seconds and it can be driven about 6.2 miles in electric-only mode at speeds to almost 100 mph. Top speed is limited to 215 mph.

‘It may not be the fastest car in the world in absolute top speed, but that was never our goal,” chief engineer Paul Mackenzie said in a press release. “Rather, we believe it is the fastest ever production car on a racing circuit, a much more important technical statement, and far more relevant for on-road driving.”

Its technological credentials are impressive. The car has an unprecedented amount of downforce for a road vehicle, Mackenzie said, “similar levels to a GT3 racing car and yet with even greater ground effect.”
The downforce boosts cornering and braking performance and helps balance, stability and driveability at all speeds he said.

The car’s agility is due in part to active aerodynamics and adjustable suspension, both now banned in Formula 1 racing, he said, because of the perceived performance advantage.

Air flow is optimized around the body by an active wing and underbody panels. To harness downforce, the F1 style rear wing can extend by about 4.7 inches on road and to nearly 12 inches on the track.

The hydro-pneumatic suspension – RaceActive Chassis Control – can lower the car by nearly 2 inches in Race mode, to produce ground effect aerodynamics. It also has adaptive spring rates, roll control, pitch control and damping. In Race mode, the spring rates stiffen by 300 percent, which will allow cornering grip of more than 2g.

Power is driven to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox.

IPAS (Instant Power Assist System) is a plug-in electric system. The battery is charged by kinetic energy from the engine, such as when decelerating and it can be plugged in to recharge.

The electric power assist system, developed by McLaren, can provide up to 176 hp from the electric motor, which can then be used as a boost at the touch of the steering wheel button. The nitrous-like charge operates only when close to full throttle
“It’s pretty cool to turn up, silently, in a million dollar McLaren,” said Mackenzie.

Deliveries begin this summer.

About Mark Maynard

Mark Maynard has been the automotive editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune since 1992.

He drives nearly 200 vehicles a year for review, has attended several high-performance driving schools and a few off-road driving courses.

He attends many new-vehicle press introductions and schmoozes with auto-industry execs.

Mark Maynard