Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Random Car Wednesday: 2015 McLaren P1

Every so often, a car comes along that redefines the concept of performance. The McLaren F1, for example, was a radical machine that boasted the fastest top speed of any production car for several years, until the Bugatti Veyron stole the throne. The Veyron still holds that record (although the Hennessey Venom GT is unofficially faster) but nevertheless, McLaren found their way back into the spotlight. Enter the P1.

Start with the numbers: 3,280 pounds. 903 horsepower and 722 pound-feet of torque. 0 to 60 in about 2.8 seconds, with a blistering top speed of 217 mph. In short, it's no slouch. But the world has seen fast cars before, so why does the P1 matter?

Simply put, the McLaren achieves all of this performance through a lot of truly innovative technology. The drivetrain is a hybrid-electric setup consisting of a twin-turbo V8 mated to an all-electric powerplant developed by McLaren. If desired, the P1 can be driven using only the electric motors, making it comparable to an extremely sporty Prius. However, using both motors together, the P1 can capitalize on the horsepower of the V8, while also utilizing the instantaneous torque of the electric drivetrain. The end result is a driving experience unlike anything else.

Like any supercar worth having, the P1 will be built in low numbers (exactly 375 cars) and will cost a hefty sum. Currently, the typical price of a P1 is an eye-watering $1.6 million. That's less than some other supercars on sale, such as the aforementioned Veyron, but it's still a remarkable amount of money to spend on an automobile.

This particular P1 was at the most recent Cars and Coffee event, and had a large crowd around it at all times. In person, the design is incredibly striking. It simply doesn't look like anything of this world. Furthermore, this thing is low, and positively everything seems to be made from carbon fiber. Saving weight wasn't just a goal with this car, it was the engineers' Ten Commandments. Also of note is that dazzling shade of blue. I've not seen many colors as striking as this. It's as if the light is actually absorbed by the paint and radiated out even brighter.

Ultimately, the P1 is not the only one of its kind. The Porsche 918 Spyder and the poorly-named Ferrari LaFerrari both utilize hybrid technology, and fit into the same "insanity on wheels" category as the P1. And while the Porsche's eco mode is endlessly more usable and the Ferrari's personality is a bit more exciting, for me it's the P1 that takes the cake. It's so wild and explosive, and yet when you really examine it, it's innovative and scientific. It's the first of a new breed of supercars, a sensational machine that takes the best of today's technological marvels and couples that with the bravado and the soul of the greatest supercars in history. Quite simply, it shows that for all the drivers and car lovers out there, the future is indeed looking bright.