The new king of the hypercars

It's been a while since we've seen a proper hypercar, but Mercedes-AMG just got things moving again by unveiling the 1,000-horsepower Project One.

Tim Stevens
Tim Stevens Former editor at large for CNET Cars

Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.

2 min read

With the Project One, Mercedes-AMG is ushering in a new era of hypercars. It's been a few years since the world had a proper, new, all-conquering machine on the market. The last trio -- the McLaren P1, Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918 -- all having ended their production runs. And, while the phenomenal Bugatti Chiron is still just getting up to production speed, that's a velvet rocket, not so much a trackday dominator, the sort of thing we've been missing. Now, we have our first look at the next one.

With over 1,000 horsepower in a low, lightweight package, Mercedes-AMG promises that the Project One will offer performance on par with a Formula One car in a package that is not only road legal, but that anyone can buy. Anyone who is phenomenally wealthy, anyhow.

Mercedes-AMG Project One hypercar is 1,000 horsepower incarnate

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This is a proper road car, a machine that seats two in relative comfort -- relative that is compared to an average hypercar, which is typically stripped bare to offer the best trackday performance. We haven't seen much of the interior, but it looks far more accommodating than an F1 car, while stealing a few of its tricks. Most notably? A steering wheel that has most of the important stuff right on it. Valuable, this, given the driver will be lying practically on his or her back when driving this car.

Yes, that's less horsepower than the phenomenal Bugatti Chiron, but in a package that is surely substantially lighter. Mercedes says that this car will accelerate not to 60, but to 125 mph in less than 6 seconds. It will hit a top speed in excess of 217 mph and can do that despite having a V6 engine that's just 1.6 liters in displacement. That's smaller than what you'll find under the hood of a Ford Focus!

Mercedes-AMG Project One

Not a bad place to be, right?

Daimler AG

Of course, what's here is augmented by electric turbocharging and not one but four electric motors. Two of those are situated on the front axle, much like an Acura NSX. Mercedes-AMG expects this will allow the car to regenerate up to 80 percent of its braking force to recharge the onboard batteries.

But, it won't just be fast. Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche said the car offers a thermal efficiency of 40 percent, meaning it will get far more energy from burned gasoline than your average car, and beyond that will be able to drive 25 km (about 16 miles) using just electric power if you want to get somewhere quietly.

Two figures are missing, though. The first is how many Mercedes-AMG will build, and Dr. Z already indicated that some people are bound to be "disappointed" as there won't be many. Just 275 of the cars will be produced, at a cost of 2.275 million euros each. That's about $2.72 million by today's exchange rate, just slightly cheaper than that Chiron. A bargain, then.