CAR Most Wanted of 2014: McLaren P1

Published: 10 January 2014

Just like the car’s acceleration itself, things happened very quickly for the McLaren P1. We saw the initial design study at the 2012 Paris motor show, and shortly afterwards, CAR spied disguised prototypes putting in the hard testing yards on the mountain roads of Spain.

By the 2013 Geneva motor show, McLaren was ready to pull the wraps off the finished (and barely altered) P1 design, and give us hints to some of the performance figures offered by a carbonfibre, aero-focused missile using a combination of twin-turbo V8 and electric boost power.

The confirmed stats for one of 2014’s most eagerly anticipated machines are these: a twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8, developing 727bhp and 531lb ft. An integrated electric motor, also powering the rear wheels, adds a further 176bhp and 96lb ft, and, says McLaren, removes any impression of turbo-lag from the 12C-derived petrol engine.

Pushing along a car that weighs 1395kg, that adds up to 0-62mph in 2.8sec, 0-124mph in 6.8sec, and 0-186mph in 16.5sec. The top speed is electronically limited to 217mph, because the P1 isn’t about top speed: it’s designed to corner like a GT racing car.

The five-piece bodyshell and adaptive rear wing generate up to 600kg of downforce, requiring reinforced wheels and bespoke tyres to cope with the massive loads the P1 places on its rolling stock. DRS (drag reduction system) and an electric boost button sit resplendent on the steering wheel, adding a dash of colour to the carbon-grey cockpit, which uses unlaquered fibre and super-thin glass to shave precious grams.

It’s a mouth-watering spec of paper, but CAR can go one better and give you an insight into what it’s like to sit inside a McLaren P1 as it exhibits its epic race-spec performance. Mark Walton rode shotgun in one of the very first P1s at the 2013 Goodwood motor show, and it made a stunning impression:

‘Where the P1 moves the game on is the way it corners: it is Veyron-meets-Formula 3. It feels utterly glued down, shifting under the extreme forces with those taut, abrupt little movements of roll and dive you associate with a stiffly sprung racing car.’

>> To read the complete feature on experiencing the £866,000 McLaren P1 (now sold out) first-hand, click here

>> Click here to check out our previous Most Wanted car of 2014