McLaren gave the world automotive perfection back in 1992 with the now iconic F1 supercar, still the fastest naturally aspirated road car in the world. Since production ended in 1998, everyone has been waiting for the British carmaker's follow up. They put their name on 2003's Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, but that car didn't really count. Likewise, the MP4-12C that they introduced in 2011, while still a phenomenal car and one that McLaren did by themselves, just isn't the same kind of revolutionary that the F1 was. This is why anticipation over McLaren's next no-holds-barred, super expensive machine has been so frantic. The new P1 (short for Project 1, apparently) is an answer to the prayers of car people everywhere and supposedly an example of what the engineers at McLaren can do when they pull out all the stops.
McLaren only plans to make 375 P1s. That will make it more common than the old F1, but still a rare bird indeed that will probably only be seen at relatively exclusive events. But if a P1 does ever happen to be around, absolutely no one will miss it. To say the styling is radical would be an understatement. While there are some neat subtleties such as the headlights that are shaped like McLaren emblems and the racy intake in the roof, the shape is completely purposeful. The car is supposed to make around 1,3000 pounds of downforce at 125 miles per hour, a figure once reserved for things like Formula One cars. Power comes from a reworked version of the mid-mounted V-8 in the MP4-12C that, combined with an electric motor, boosts power to an insane 903. 0 to 60 should be well under three seconds, and top speed with a limiter and all that downforce is 217 miles per hour. ¬†The interior of the new P1 is strikingly similar to that of McLaren's other, cheaper model, albeit with more carbon fiber. This is probably a bit disappointing to people who were hoping for an interior more like the F1. That car's central driving position, with one seat behind each shoulder of the driver, was yet another characteristic that set the old F1 apart and would have made a great addition to the P1. But, alas, they decided to go with a more conventional two-seat layout. That is admittedly a small gripe, as the rest of the car is breathtaking and sure to be a benchmark, just like its predecessor.
There is one problem, though, and that is another new hypercar called the LaFerrari. The McLaren P1 is no doubt a worthy successor the F1 and a forward thinking machine that will help advance how performance cars are built, but the Ferrari is right there with it. Both are hybrids with over 900 combined horsepower, both were styled with obsession over aerodynamics, and both have around the same one and a quarter million-dollar price tag. The Ferrari is clearly a direct competitor, something the F1 just never had. It remains to be seen which machine will be more celebrated, but the P1 has bigger shoes to fill.