McLaren P1

McLaren P1

2012 Paris Auto Show

2012 Paris Auto Show

Just the Facts:
  • McLaren used its first appearance at an international auto show to unveil the P1, an all-new flagship sports car.
  • Although the P1 is just a design study at this point, McLaren did confirm that the production car would have a midengine configuration and a body shell made entirely of carbon fiber.
  • McLaren says the P1's shape generates 1,322 pounds of downforce well below its maximum speed.

PARIS — McLaren took the wraps off its most extreme road car ever today at the Paris auto show. Dubbed P1, the all-new sports car is a successor to the legendary F1 road car from the 1990s.

Like the F1, the McLaren P1 is a midengine sports car with a carbon-fiber body shell. In fact, it's nothing more than a shell, as McLaren called this version of the P1 a "design study." A production version of the P1 will be shown at the Geneva auto show next spring.

McLaren did note that this P1 was penned under the watchful eye of design director and former Ferrari designer Frank Stephenson, who was also responsible for the MP4-12C. Extensive wind tunnel testing influenced much of the car's shape. The rear wing not only extends and retracts according to speed, it's also capable of changing its angle to add downforce. The P1 also incorporates underbody flaps just ahead of the front wheels that can change their pitch by up to 60 degrees to further enhance the car's aerodynamic package. Taken together, the P1's body shape helps to generate up to 1,322 pounds of downforce "at well below its maximum speed," according to McLaren. For comparison, that's five times the amount of downforce generated by the current MP4-12C road car.

No engine specifics of the McLaren P1 were discussed, but Program Director Paul Mackenzie did say the P1 would have a power-to-weight ratio of more than 591 horsepower per ton. The Ferrari F12 has a power-to-weight ratio of 406 hp per ton.

The name of the car was derived from Grand Prix racing, where P1 designates 1st place. McLaren also notes that its F1 sports car was originally called "Project 1," or P1 for short, during its early development.

McLaren says the production version of the P1 will go on sale in late 2013.

Edmunds says: It's not the best-looking sports car McLaren has ever built, but it will likely outperform the F1 in every respect, and that's no small feat.

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