GENEVA--McLaren did the unexpected with its new P1 model: built it with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. In that respect, it follows the Porsche 918 Spyder as a high-performance hybrid. The P1 uses a carbon fiber monocoque body, rear-wheel drive, and a midmounted engine. The lightweight construction, perfect for a high-performance car, also helps its electric drive system.
Top speed: 217 mph (electronically limited)
0 to 62 mph: under 3 seconds
0 to 187 mph: under 17 seconds
The engine in the P1 is similar to that of McLaren's MP4-12C model, a twin turbo 3.8-liter V-8. Its high compression gives it output of 727 horsepower. A 176 horsepower electric motor is integrated with the engine, the output of both being delivered to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. McLaren has not specified exactly how the power of engine and motor are combined, but the system lets the car drive under pure electric power.
The sheen of ceramic brakes is obvious from the rotors. McLaren made these rotors from a new type of carbon ceramic, designed to shed heat better than current carbon ceramic braking systems. The P1 also uses braking regeneration to recharge its lithium ion battery pack.
McLaren integrated the 212 pound battery pack into the chassis. The car's charger, necessary to connect it to an electric vehicle charging station, can be stored in the luggage area or left out, to save weight. McLaren says the P1 will travel 12 miles under electric power at 30 mph, useful for urban zero emission driving.
McLaren calls the automated wing a Drag Reduction System (DRS). In track driving, the wing can provide maximum downforce. On public roads and when using electric power, the wing will lessen downforce for better range.
Buttons on the steering wheel activate the Drag Reduction System and the Instant Power Assist System, the latter letting loose the full potential of the electric drive system to complement the engine's output. Carbon fiber shift paddles on the steering column allow for manual sequential gear selection. The center stack also holds a small LCD for controlling and viewing the car's infotainment features. The instrument cluster is also LCD-based.