Arguably the craziest of the holy trinity of hybrid hypercars, the P1 redefined electrification.
McLaren is celebrating 10 years of the iconic P1 hypercar this year and wants everyone to know about the car that redefined what a hybrid could be. But all we want to know is when its successor is coming.
The car that brought the company into the hybrid era, it's hard to stress just how important of a milestone this vehicle was to the brand. It signified that the British automaker was every bit as revolutionary and formidable as it was when it delivered the F1 supercar over 20 years earlier.
But unlike the F1, which really existed as a standalone precursor to the modern McLaren operation, the P1 set the tone for every model that followed suit, and without it, we wouldn't have the McLaren Artura hybrid. So let's take a dive back into just what made the P1 so incredible.
Built with the desire to make the best driver's car in the world, the company set about making a no-holds-barred attempt at a new supercar that would help redefine what the word supercar even means, and it all started with the powertrain.
Before 2013, hybrid cars invoked images of Priuses rather than exotic hypercars, until information start coming down the pipeline that certain sports car manufacturers around the world were coming up with their own insane versions.
This is why McLaren knew that it had to strike big, and what they came up with was truly remarkable: a 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 making 737 horsepower combined with a lightweight electric motor making 178 hp. Together, this came out to a whopping 915 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque that was capable of rocketing the vehicle from 0-62 mph in just 2.8 seconds and 124 mph in 6.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 217 mph.
The car could reach 186 mph in 16.5 seconds, a full 5.5 seconds faster than the F1 of old. It was, to say the least, quite the hit.
McLaren knew once it had power, the next two focuses were making the car as lightweight and aerodynamic as possible. Again, the company had some big plans.
The car was built around a carbon fiber MonoCage with a roof that was first developed with the 12C and allowed the P1 to have a dry weight of only 3,075 lbs. The carbon fiber body panels comprising the doors, front and rear panels attached to the MonoCage, access flaps in the rear, and hood weighed an astonishingly low 198 lbs combined.
The battery was then placed as low as possible to lower the center of gravity and weighed a mere 211 lbs. No carpeting or sound deadening was used. The specialized glass utilized throughout allowed the roof to be a mere 2.4 mm thick and the windshield only 3.2 mm thick. Everything was as light as could be, making the P1 even lighter than the modern-day Artura.
On to aero, the rear wing, like the powertrain, is where the hypercar blew others out of the water. Adjustable on the fly, it could extend rearwards by up to 12 inches on the track and 4.7 inches on the road. It worked as a DRS (drag reduction system) and could change its pitch to reduce downforce for straight-line speed.
With this and the rest of the car honed through countless hours in the wind tunnel and through the use of computational fluid dynamics, the car could produce an absurd 1,322 lbs of downforce.
Stats like these and unabashed praise from people like us were then enough to convince many uber-rich elites to rush to buy one of the $1.3 million cars. 375 cars were planned for production, and within months, 375 were sold.
10 years later, numbers like these are still unbelievably impressive, and we have all this engineering to thank for just how great the McLaren Artura and McLaren Speedtail turned out to be. It's essentially the grandchild of the P1, with that car being the genesis of the hybrid technology that the Artura runs off of. McLaren is now fully committed to electrifying its future products - but not necessarily going fully electric - and we have the P1 to thank.
But in the continuous pursuit of excellence, McLaren hasn't just left the P1 to be a great car of yesteryear - it's continually enhanced it with new technology.
The father may have spawned the son, but that hasn't stopped the father from learning from the son. Through the development and lessons learned from the Speedtail, McLaren was able to improve battery technology which has now found its way into the P1. At more than the price of a Porsche 911 GT3, the battery upgrade is pricy, but it reduces weight, enhances handling, and makes the P1 accelerate quicker than ever. McLaren dropped the all-electric range from 7.5 miles to just 1.9, but given the P1's position as a hypercar and not a commuter, it's a small penalty to pay for a four-tenths-of-a-second reduction in its 0-186 mph sprint time.
McLaren's commitment to improving the P1 further, despite its age, shows the platform itself has stood the test of time. The P1 wasn't just great when it came out; it's still a world-beating hypercar today.
But what comes next? How does McLaren ensure the heir to the throne is as good, if not better? Well we don't have the answers to those questions just yet, but we know McLaren is working on a successor, even if it is still a few years away.
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