McLaren P1 hybrid (2013) stays true to concept

Published: 28 November 2012

Here’s proof that McLaren’s new 2013 P1 supercar won’t change much from the concept car shown at the 2012 Paris motor show. CAR magazine’s new spy photos snatched in the south of France reveal a taped-up prototype on validation testing ahead of its full debut next spring.

The radical aero of the concept car looks to be largely intact, with the McLaren ‘tick’ headlights bleeding into the front air intakes and large, exaggerated scallops cut into the flanks of the hybrid supercar. Click here to see the first gallery of photos of the McLaren P1 concept car.

The centrally mounted ‘snorkel’ air scoop remains too, feeding air to the mid-mounted engine. McLaren remains tightlipped about the P1’s powerplant for now, but it’s set to continue with an upgraded version of the MP4-12C’s 3.8-litre V8 driving the rear wheels.

McLaren P1 supercar: the hybrid bit

Providing the extra boost for this range-topping supercar is a hybrid pack related to the KERS boost system in the McLaren F1 cars. Our information suggests the turbocharged V8 will develop around 700bhp, while electric motors will add some 100bhp extra.

Clearly visible in the spy photos of the rear of the P1 is the complex wing. If the concept McLaren P1’s is anything to go by, it’ll swivel by up to 29deg in angle, as well as sliding back and forth by 300mm constantly trimming the aerodynamics to squash the car into the road. It’s even clever enough to set up the correct aero trim for use on different race circuits – automatically, as detected by the GPS sat-nav.

Combined with active aero flaps behind the front wheels adjusting air flow, the P1 is said to introduce a drag reduction system to road cars for the first time and the aero package is claimed to be one of the most advanced ever seen on a road car. At 180mph, the P1 produces 600kg of downforce.

McLaren P1 vs McLaren F1

Sadly, as predicted by CAR magazine’s first scoops of the P1, it loses the F1’s central seating position in favour of two more conventionally packaged seats, shown here in these new photographs.

McLaren Automotive chief Antony Sheriff told us: ‘We looked at three seats, but decided against. if I sit in an F1, it’s wonderful once you’re inside – the view is brilliant from the driver’s seat. But it’s a nightmare to get in and out. This layout pushes the seats in all the wrong directions.’

But the P1 will stay true to the pioneering spirit of the F1: and nowhere more so than in its use of composite materials. If you thought the 12C used carbonfibre liberally, the P1 is likely to tap into even more far-flung corners of the periodic table.

See the new McLaren P1 supercar for real at its international debut slated for the 2013 Geneva motor show; sales are set to start at the end of the year. You’d better get saving – it’s likely to cost not far off a million pounds…

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet