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Succeeding an icon: McLaren unveils the P1


September 19, 2012

The highly anticipated P1 will debut as a design study at the 2012 Paris Motor Show

The highly anticipated P1 will debut as a design study at the 2012 Paris Motor Show

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"The best driver’s car in the world on road and track"—a bold, not to mention subjective, claim. But the McLaren P1 brings a pedigree like few other cars on Earth. The successor to McLaren's infamous F1, the P1 is the automaker's latest halo supercar. McLaren has released the first pictures and details a little more than a week before the official world premiere.

The McLaren F1 was not only the one-time fastest car in the world, it was an icon that stood head and shoulders above its contemporaries. In a world where the word "supercar" was on its way to dilution, it was the supercar: a fast, 240-mph (386-km/h) machine with a distinctive 1 + 2 layout that left the competition in the dust.

Given the F1's legendary status in the automotive world, its successor, which finds the spotlight 20 years after the F1's launch, has been a point of considerable interest; interest that McLaren has begun to satisfy with the first photos and official acknowledgement of the P1.

We had heard that the P1 would break away from the MP4-12C's design language, earning itself a more aggressive, extreme suit of armor. Those rumors are correct, as the bulging curves, fang-like headlamps and pen-stroke tail-lamps show that McLaren cut the leash and let its designers run wild. The car should stick to the track like commercial vacuum thanks to a Botoxed front lip, massive rear diffuser and skirts running along the flanks. It gives a nod to the F1 in its cabin design and rooftop air intake.

"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," explains McLaren Automotive Managing Director Antony Sheriff, foreshadowing the unannounced spec sheet. "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."

Unfortunately, that's about as much as McLaren is willing to divulge in terms of the P1's performance, outside of mentioning that the car is inspired by McLaren's racing division (surprise, surprise). Reports suggest that the car will receive primary power from an 800-hp V8 engine, with a boost of up to 200 horses coming from a KERS system.

Sheriff's statement about acceleration over top speed means that the P1 may come ready to best the Bugatti Veyron's 2.5-second 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) time but will be unwilling to battle its 267.8 mph (431.0 km/h) world record speed. That may be a bit disappointing to record watchers mindful of the F1's former world record, but the average P1 owner should be more than happy to trade a virtually inaccessible top speed for lightning-quick acceleration and on-dime track handling.

McLaren plans to begin production on the P1 in late 2013. The car will serve as its flagship, sitting above the MP4-12C. We'll get more details on the car when McLaren unveils it before the world on September 27, the first media day of the 2012 Paris Motor Show.

If the P1 isn't winning you over, there is still hope. The version that you're looking at is a design study; the production model won't debut until next year and may feature updated or overhauled styling. McLaren will certainly gauge the public reaction to the car and move forward from there.

Source: McLaren

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

it is not McLaren that made the F1 Super.... it was Gordon Murray.

no Gordon Murray == no super-car.

and that is the end of that, as far as McLaren is concerned.

Michiel Mitchell

First I think it is gorgeous as is I hope they don't change a thing. Second, Guy Macher it's possible maybe even likely it will have suspension that allows you to raise the front end or even the whole car to increase ride height when not on a track.

Jon Smith

@ Drumalis - Do you think of "bad @$$" and "nasty" so literally, too? The F1 was one bad son of a #@$#.

Agree with socalboomer - How exacly is anyone supposed to own one when they just announced the concept. I think McLaren owns the one in existence.

Joe F

This is not a true road going car. No ground clearance. I saw an F1 in Celebration Florida, a dream like place with no potholes or pavement irregularities and even there an F1 could not manage the shallow inclines of parking entries. The P1 looks even lower.

Guy Macher

I agree with out Gordon Murray No super car . Also if it was so good why has Lewis Hamilton purchased a 760LH PAGANI ZONDA and not gotten one of these .This sorta speaks for its self unless he is not driving for McLaren any more . But than Sauber does not make a super car. Lets see what Jensen Button gets . Interesting that Alonso and Massa both drive cars of their maker . Really can it be a super car with out an F-1 driver backing it .


As dinosaurs go, it is quite pretty, but a dinosaur none-the-less.

Mel Tisdale

"The successor to McLaren's infamous F1" "The McLaren F1 was not only the one-time fastest car in the world, it was an icon that stood head and shoulders above its contemporaries. In a world where the word "supercar" was on its way to dilution, it was the supercar."

The definition of infamous is: having a reputation of the worst kind : notoriously evil. Clearly not what was meant.


It is just my opinion, but as far as I am concerned, this is just another UGLY design study of not much use to the real world.


@geomagic1 - there's an easy reason why Hamilton hasn't purchased one. . . they're not OUT yet! ROFL

I will bet that once it comes out, then it will be purchased. . .


Love 2 drive one, with manumatic etc mode vs std manual trans, 'awesome. needs larger luggage space for rear or front end.

Stephen Russell

I like the rear and the headlamps but the rest isn't really communicating much to me. Maybe there is some special allure in the proportions that can only be perceived live but from the photos it just seems like a version of a Pagani Zonda. Not that that's a bad thing but there's not much soul or design in it besides what is dictated by the aerodynamics. I think I understand better now what those who called the MP4-12C "bland" meant. I like the MP4-12C's design a lot but maybe I was expecting too much from this one.

David Guerra

meh. Don't like the overall design.

Azar Attura
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