New McLaren P11 supercar: the spy photos

Published: 13 October 2008

CAR today publishes undisguised photographs of the 200mph McLaren P11 – Woking’s new junior supercar that will resurrect the spirit of the fabled F1 but in a new, smaller, cheaper package to tackle the likes of the Ferrari F430 and Lamborghini Gallardo. 

We’ve obtained three world-exclusive photographs of an early clay model of the new 2010 McLaren sports car, which reveal the Macca’s styling direction for the first time.

Read on for the full story on this landmark new McLaren:

• We lay bare the design story so far
• Lowdown on small McLaren’s engine
• Why it has cutting-edge composite tech
• The full marketing story of Project P11

So where on earth did you get these photographs of the new McLaren P11?

We can’t reveal our sources, for obvious reasons. But we’ve obtained three photographs showing the front, side profile and rear of a clay styling buck of the new baby McLaren sports car.

Our Photoshop experts are satisfied that they are a) genuine and b) undoctored. All we’ve done is remove the background (to protect our sources’ identities) and watermark them (so they’re attributed to CAR when they’re inevitably republished around the worldwide web). Otherwise what you see is what you get.

They reveal a low-slung, wedge-shaped supercar that’s obviously a two-seater, mid-engined and very, very fast…

Click ‘Next’ to read more of CAR Online’s scoop on the new McLaren P11 supercar

When can I buy the McLaren P11?

The new Macca is still at least 18 months away from production and won’t be launched before 2010, we hear. That leaves time for McLaren to finish its SLR project, which it co-developed with Mercedes-Benz and is now in its twilight years.

The final SLR will be built in 2009 and the project wound up – leaving space and time for the launch of the P11. We’ll see the final, run-out SLR version – the speedster codenamed Z199 and scooped here – at the 2009 Detroit motor show, concluding the triumvirate of SLR models.

SLR production takes up a sizeable corner of McLaren’s Woking factory, with space for 30-40 cars in the assembly room and adjacent painting booths.

Out with the old, in with the new! What else do we know about the McLaren P11?

CAR has compiled a dossier on the P11, ever since our sensational 2007 scoop on the junior sports car. Concrete information on the junior McLaren is as hard to come by as Lewis Hamilton’s race strategy, but McLaren has at least acknowledged its existence. And we’ve interviewed dozens of suppliers, partners and prospective customers to piece together the jigsaw and pull together the best story yet on the new P11.

Distilled to its simplest, McLaren is targeting the lower reaches of the supercar market. This car is pitched squarely at the Ferrari F430 and Lamborghini Gallardo, which suggests a price between £150,000 and £170,000, although one prospective customer hinted to us that the cost could soar above £200k.

McLaren recently commissioned a £300,000 study to interview potential customers across ten countries and get inside the minds of F430 and Gallardo customers. They hope to persuade such punters to trade up a notch and try out the P11 instead.

Click ‘Next’ to read about the engine that will power the new McLaren P11 supercar

 

Will the McLaren P11 really look like this?

Our photographs reveal an early styling buck for the new McLaren – so we’d hesitate before saying this is exactly how the finished, roadgoing car will look. Ex-Fiat styling chief Frank Stephenson (of Mini and Fiat 500 fame) has recently been appointed to McLaren as design director and, once his gardening leave is completed, he is keen to fettle the existing designs, we hear.

However, these photographs are the first glimpse of the thinking at Woking and reveal a wind-tunnel shape that’s dripping with interesting details, such as the echo of the McLaren ‘tick’ logo in the side cooling vents. Our images also confirm CAR’s 2007 scoop which correctly predicted how the new McLaren sports car would look.

Will the new McLaren be powered by Lewis Hamilton’s V8?

In your dreams! Chasing slightly longer service intervals and a less wallet-wilting price, McLaren is turning to partner Mercedes-Benz for a roadgoing V8. Merc has a shareholding in the McLaren group, so it makes sense to look to Germany. We’re still not certain which engine will be used, but the AMG 6.2-litre V8 is top of the list. One source suggested it could even be turbocharged.

The P11 will stick to the supercar-pure mid-engined, rear-drive layout and there will be plenty of emphasis on the links from F1 to road. We know the new McLaren will use ceramic brake discs, for instance.

How do you know the McLaren P11 will use composite material?

Woking, and its materials centre in Portsmouth, have considerable expertise in cutting-edge lightweight materials and sources in the plastics industry tell us that the P11 is destined to showcase genuine innoivations in its use of composites.

Tellingly, McLaren is currently advertising for more staff with ‘experience in working in carbonfibre composite R&D… of high-volume production for composite parts.’

High volume? On a McLaren? These things are relative. We’re looking at comfortably fewer than 5000 cars a year. So there’ll be a bespoke feel to the P11, from its Conran-designed interior to its lovingly crafted carbonfibre chassis.

Click ‘Next’ to read more about the P11’s technical stats

So how fast will the McLaren P11 be?

How long is a piece of string? With the sort of firepower being shoehorned into the P11’s engine bay (Merc-source V8, upwards of 500bhp) and a flyweight construction (bank on around 1200kg), it’s not difficult to see that the baby McLaren will be scintillatingly quick.

We’re in the realms of pure speculation here, but we’d be very surprised if the P11 didn’t bust through the 200mph barrier and hit 60mph in less than 4.0sec.

Eye witnesses who’ve seen engineering mules masquerading as a Ferrari 360 Modena and Ultima on test at Surrey’s Dunsfold circuit report swift progress and a rifle-quick gearchange. We just don’t know about the transmission of the P11 at this stage, but some kind of F1-inspired semi-auto would make sense.

And what about that P11 name?

McLaren uses P codenames, you see. The SLR is internally dubbed P7 and Mercedes and McLaren considered three more projects that were all aborted a few years ago: they would have have sired a GT sports car (P8), another supercar (P9) and an SLR successor (P10).

None of them could muster a solid enough business case, however, so McLaren decided to go it alone with the P11. And that’s the car you see here.

We can hardly wait…

So how fast will the McLaren P11 be?

How long is a piece of string? With the sort of firepower being shoehorned into the P11’s engine bay (Merc-source V8, upwards of 500bhp) and a flyweight construction (bank on around 1200kg), it’s not difficult to see that the baby McLaren will be scintillatingly quick.

We’re in the realms of pure speculation here, but we’d be very surprised if the P11 didn’t bust through the 200mph barrier and hit 60mph in less than 4.0sec.

Eye witnesses who’ve seen engineering mules masquerading as a Ferrari 360 Modena and Ultima on test at Surrey’s Dunsfold circuit report swift progress and a rifle-quick gearchange. We just don’t know about the transmission of the P11 at this stage, but some kind of F1-inspired semi-auto would make sense.

And what about that P11 name?

McLaren uses P codenames, you see. The SLR is internally dubbed P7 and Mercedes and McLaren considered three more projects that were all aborted a few years ago: they would have have sired a GT sports car (P8), another supercar (P9) and an SLR successor (P10).

None of them could muster a solid enough business case, however, so McLaren decided to go it alone with the P11. And that’s the car you see here.

We can hardly wait…

By Tim Pollard

Executive editor, Carmagazine.co.uk gatekeeper, motoring news magnet