McLaren P1: Harbinger of the hybrid supercar revolution (CNET On Cars, Episode 58)
Mclaren P1, electrifying super car.
Vs, inlines, Ws, and more, how engines are arranged.
And CNet's top five best cars of the last 12 months.
Time to check the temp.
We see cars differently.
We love 'em on the road and under the hood, but also check the tech, and are known for telling it like it is.
Ugly is included at no extra cost.
The good, the bad, the bottom line.
This is CNet On Cars.
Welcome to cnet on cars, the show all about high tech cars and modern driving I'm Brian Cooley.
You may have noticed the latest thing in super cars is hybrid cars.
Look at Porsche's nine eighteen, Ferrari's laferrari and of course the bat mobile.
McLaren's P1, perhaps the most audacious in many ways among this rarefied breed.
What they all have in common is combining a high output gas engine with an electric motor or motors to make sure they've got the best blend of power and response, no matter what the performance situation.
Let's see how the marriage is going.
As we drive the McClarin p one and check the tech.
Hey mom look I got a hybrid.
No not a Prius.
What a nice, nice, whoa, sports car this is.
It's got [UNKNOWN] 2014, McLaren P1, enough said.
First of all, what is a P1?
It's a lot of things.
A mid engine, rear wheel drive, carbon fiber, plug in hybrid, active everything super car.
And when I say carbon fiber, I mean carbon fiber everywhere.
The tub, the super structure of the roof, all your body panels.
in fact, there is no engine cover to speak of, not one that you lift.
You use tools to take it off when it's time for service, otherwise stay out of there.
And Mclaren tells me if you remove even the largest carbon fiber panel on this car, the rear clamshell, you can still pick it up easily with the thumb and fore finger.
It's all about light weight, super stiffness.
And high strength.
You're gonna think I'm nuts but the most revealing thing I did is not drive this car but wash it.
When you get your hands all over this body structure it is so foreign.
I kept thinking of marine structures and fish.
Inside the Batmobile.
Don't go looking for a bunch of seat controls.
You have one, fore and aft.
Directly ahead of me is an all-LCD instrument.
Not that novel today, but I"m surprised.
How unbusy this one is.
It doesn't choke you with a whole lot of information.
And unusual for super cars, this one got a pretty up to date, comprehensive head unit.
It's kinda like a baby Tesla in its orientation.
It is a touch screen, as you can see.
Media choices are pretty comprehensive.
Navigation is pretty digestible and this is very.
Forward, looking for a car like this.
You've got a decent app suite, including a web browser.
Also rather Tesla-esque.
And Tunein for radio station streaming and podcasts.
So, unlike some super high dollar, high performance cars, you're not going to be sitting there in the 1990's in terms of cabin tech.
But now on to the stuff that really matters in this car, let's get to our power train control.
Starting back at the wheel.
You've got your [UNKNOWN] shifters on the wheel are two buttons that you'll find in no other car, unless you drove a formula one car.
Drs is the drag reduction system, it's gonna feather out the rear wing to reduce drag down a straight when you really wanna haul.
And then you let up on it, and it plants you down again.
We'll try that later.
An IPAS is their acronym for electric boost.
You can do it on demand or let it happen automatically.
Now to get this car to really come alive you have to first put it into active mood.
Now you're digging into the performance.
On the left is your handling control.
Normal, sport, or track.
On the right is your power train control, with the same three settings.
Manual button here puts you in manual shift mode of course.
The arrow button over here puts it in full aerodynamic mode.
Race puts you in the most aggressive mode entirely, in fact, you have to go through two.
Confirmation screens that tell you you're on your own.
It gets the car super-low, it puts the wings super-high, it sharpens up all your responses, and it takes off all your stability control.
And finally, the boost button down here is interesting.
When you hit it.
Hit that you now take the electric motor out of the equation and it only comes on, on demand.
And that's when you get back to the ipass button.
This emo does as you might imagine.
Puts the car in electric only mode.
It can go about six or seven miles.
Battery only and of course the plug in hybrid.
You can hit this button here to put it in charge mode.
You've got a door overhead where the charging port is.
Takes about two hours to a full charge off shore power.
But, of course, the car will regen its own battery along the way.
The way it does that's interesting.
It does not have brake regeneration.
It has coasting regeneration.
McLaren does that so that the brake feel is always the same and never polluted by having a regen apparatus getting in between you and the pads.
The back here under glass is the secret sauce to our power train, with the emphasis on power.
It is a 3.8 liter, twin turbo V8.
The engine has 720 horse power, the electric motor adds a 176.
The V8 engine has 531 pound feet of torque.
Electric motor adds a 100 and 92.
Totaled up in engine math you've got 903 horsepower.
700 and 22 pound feet of torque.
And all of that goes out through a seven speed dual clutch transmission to the rear wheels only.
Interestingly not all wheel drive.
Your results are stunning.
Zero to 60 in 2.8 seconds.
[INAUDIBLE] The P1 weighs just over 3,000 pounds.
It's MPG is 17 or a slightly better 18 MPGe, but who cares.
Let's get on the track.
So the new territory that we're exploring here is this idea of electric torque that kicks in while the turbos are still getting down to business.
It's a different kind of power, more than you've ever known before because of that full torque.
From zero, that electric motors have.
And what McClerran tells you it actually quite interesting, is don't worry about running this car all the way out.
Take it up to the red line every single time between gear change.
You actually run it in the mid range to mid high of your RPM.
And it's all there.
On the back straights just get on it.
The next thing you notice is this incredibly intelligent suspension which is handling both damping as well as handling an active sway bar roll of course.
Going from the turn eleven hairpin there's no body roll any more than going through a very mild turn.
Okay now to get the full barrel taste in the p one.
I'm gonna set it into race mode.
I've done that, now I'm basically on my own.
It's a little unnerving.
If I blow it, I owe a very good friend of CNet on Cars, a little over a million dollars.
What I want to try in particular, is to hit the DRS on the fast back straight, and get a feel for what it's for that thing to split stream the car.
And you gotta do a complicated thing here, I've gotta shift.
This win the race.
with the left thumb.
Where did that come from?
And a good ten miles per hour to my previous best max speed.
And I'm not even good at this.
The P1 like most McLarens reserves its last surprise for the ride home.
Where dropping into auto mode and settling back gives you an amazingly livable street car that wouldn't really be fatiguing to commute in if you wish to turn your office colleagues a particular shade of green.
Okay, let's say I've convinced you you want to buy a P1.
Here comes the heart break.
They're all long sold.
They only made 375 of these guys.
This is number 106, for example.
What the P1 really demonstrates extremely well is the existing knowledge of carbon fiber technology.
That we've known about.
But merge that lightness and strength with this stout torque of hybridization and the extreme active aero management and this is an amazing package.
It also proves we're on the cusp of an amazing era.[sound] Special thanks by the way to one of our cnet OnCars viewers who loaned us his P1.
Drowsiness behind the wheel hasn't received the headlines or the stigma afforded drunk driving or distracted driving.
But maybe it should.
We'll find out why when cnet OnCars continues
New methodology from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows 21% of fatal car crashes as drowsiness as a fault in their estimation.
A full 33% of drivers aged 19 to 24 admit driving drowsy, at least in the last month.
That's the highest demographic.
And 28% of American drivers overall admit to it.
Drowsy driver alert systems use a variety of sensors and cameras to monitor your driving behavior.
Drowsiness detection tech first arrived in model year.
2008 with Volvo's driver alert control.
It monitors the car operator's input to deduce when the driver is drowsy.
Mercedes, Ford and others followed with similar systems that are now the most popular type of drowsy detection technology.
Toyota and Lexus use a less common eye detection system with infrared cameras mounted on the steering column aimed toward the driver's face.
The cameras recognize your face by measuring where your eyelids are.
Seeing Machines is developing a full face tracking technology for passenger cars that would build on systems it already makes for trucks, trains and mining equipment.
Fujitsu is starting production on what they call the feelism device.
That combines a band around the drivers neck and a sensor clipped to the drivers earlobe, where it senses pulse and through that can predict drowsiness and then use sound or vibration to wake you up.
At the biometrics institute of Valencia, in Spain, they're developing the harken system.
That uses sensors in the seat cover and seat belt to monitor pulse and respiration, which is then computed into an indicator of drowsiness.
And going forward there's even development of drowsy detection alerts in future smartwatches.
It pays to double check how you feel when you're driving.
And if the answer is drowsy you don't need a cup of coffee you need some rest.
Welcome back to CNET on cars.
Coming to your from our home at the Marin Club House of the Mount Tam Motor Club just north of the Golden Gate bridge.
You may have noticed watching this show that engines come in a lot of flavors.
The most essential of which.
Is it's configuration, how the cylinders live next to each other.
Whether it's a V8, a flat 6, 12 cylinder, rotary in line.
This is a key part of the engine's essential personality.
Makes for a good Car Tech 101.
Now I would need a mini-series to cover all the pros and cons of the different engine configurations.
What each is good at.
Or bad at.
And even then, no two engine geeks on earth really agree with each other, let alone me.
So we're not going to go super-deep into that.
Instead, I'm going to lay out and visualize for you how each major engine layout is different.
Done, and give you some conventional wisdom on what its benefits are.
Okay, the inline engine is perhaps the simplest, most basic, and most common.
This is an inline.
Inline four, one of the Ford Ecoboost motors, and this gets its name because the cylinders are arranged in a line, if you look down from the top.
Inline fours are very common, Inline sixes are very common.
These engines are known for being very compact, lightweight, simple, inexpensive to build, relatively, and because these engines are so compact and.
They're almost square if you view em from top.
You can mount them either way.
Longitudinally running the length of the car, or transversely running across the car.
And many different cars use one or the other.
Now the V engine, you know mostly, has V6s and V8s these days.
Although you can go all the way down to V twins in motorcycles.
SAAB, Lanche, Ford have all made those back in the day.
But the conventional V8 looks like this.
Here's your Ford Shelby V8 for example.
And there's your V, right there in the front.
You've got one set of four pistons and cylinders that are laying over this way.
Another set laying over this way.
It's kind of like you took two inline Fords, married them to one crankshaft.
Shaft and just tilted them apart so they could live in one space.
The key here is that you're fitting a lot of cylinders into a relatively compact space.
Especially when you get to higher cylinder counts like six or eight or ten.
This v8 if you made it into an inline eight would be like this long.
It wouldn't fit in just about any car out there but by nesting it in a v configuration.
You gain some width.
But you lose a lot of length.
The other key nuance around V engines, this varies by maker, is the angle of this V. Are those cylinders almost touching or are they laid out much further apart?
The angle of that V is one of the secret sauce items for engine.
V8's and V6's are also known as being inherently pretty well balanced and of course because they pack a lot of cylinders into a smaller space they do get a lot of power.
They're know as high performance engines in most cases.
The w is in many ways a derivation of the v. [INAUDIBLE] The most common example these days is the VW group design that includes a W8 and some Audi R8s, a W12 and some Bentleys, and a W16 in the Bugatti Veyron.
Now, visualize this W as a pair of V engines that are mated together to drive a single crankshaft.
And in the VW design, each of those V sets of cylinders are nested.
So they overlap a bit.
If you run an imaginary line, sort of down the set of them.
This W has the V engines benefits of putting a lot of cylinders in a short space, but also its' own benefits of putting a lot of cylinders in a narrower nested space.
Now the rotary engine.
In the car world, this really means the Wankel rotary engine, that has been used in Mazdas for several decades.
Inside an egg shaped combustion chamber, there's a triangle shaped rotor, that turns or rotates, with the combustion, in the spaces that it creates as it spins.
And geared down the middle of that rotor, is that shaft that turns and feeds the transmission.
Now because Wankel rotaries don't have a bunch of pistons and other parts that are jerking up and down violently changing direction every split section, they can spin at higher RPMs, and do so smoothly without self destructing.
On the down side, they've long struggled with highish fuel consumption and emission.
and a struggle for a lot of power, largely due to the trickiness of sealing those three tips of the rotor as it sweeps around the inside of the engine and its terrain of spark plug parts and intake and exhaust openings.
Now, let's talk about a flat engine.
Also there's a boxer or a horizontally opposed engine.
This is one of the most famous right here in a Ferrari Testa Rosa.
It's a flat 12.
You've got six cylinders on each side as you can kind of see there and on the other side are six more and they are exactly flatly opposed to each other.
A 100 and 80 degrees apart.
The point here is you've got a very low engine.
Because nothing sticks up, it can be a low motor that sits low in the car, giving you a lower center of gravity, great for performance and cornering.
It's also an engine that is good if you're trying to package the body low for a low, sleek design.
Take a look at, let's say, a Subaru BRZ.
They were able to get a low center of gravity and a low nose because they've got a flat engine in.
These are called boxers because they have pairs of cylinders, pistons in them, that are punching together at one time in any given direction.
Flat engines are also known for being very balanced, because their pistons and connecting rods are literally in exact opposition.
Things tend to just work themselves out and not have a lot of weird vibration or moments that have to be counteracted with other apparatus like counterweights.
These are engines that are known very well from Subarus.
They have fours and sixes that are their famous boxers.
And, of course, the Porsche 911 is a flat six
T build on this basic understanding of engine layouts make sure you check out our car tech 101 on turbos and super chargers.
That was back in episode 15 and our car tech 101 on horse power versus torque.
That was in episode 12.
In a moment CNET's top five rated cars of the last year.
When CNET on cars continues.
It's time to take a look back over 2014 and remember some of the awesome classic cars the X car team have been lucky enough to get their mitts on.
Before crowning one car our best classic drive.
Of twenty fourteen.
Find more from the x car team of cnet UK at cnet dot com slash x car.
Welcome back to CNet OnCars.
I'm Brian Cooley.
This is the point in the show when we grab one of your emails, this one coming in from Stephen M., who writes.
A quick comment about your recent review of auto technologies at CES: the first thing I noticed was the gesture control demonstration and the swipe-left and swipe-right gestures that move the cursor one category over what seemed to be the home page of a navigation unit.
Does that seem a bit too little or is it just me?
He says if I had to make a big ol swiping motion every time I wanted to go between nav and radio I'd look like a dog pawing at a t bone steak.
He asked maybe you could do something a little more.
KInd of like the way MacIntosh os 10 spaces works.
Well Stephen I'm with you in many of your.
Concerns about gesture controlling cars.
Now, it's prototype stuff right now, but we've seen several examples like the one you saw from CES.
And I just have a concern that it's different than using a knob, a button, or a touchscreen, but not necessarily better.
Now, it's early days for this technology.
But the developers of gesture in car has to get several things right.
First of all, make it very easy for the gesture control to know when you're gesturing for a control versus gesturing while you talk.
That's gotta be teased apart.
Secondly it's gotta be dead on positive the first time.
If I make a gesture and have to constantly look and see if it took and if you do it again.
Now you've just doubled my mental load from gesture as well as my distraction looking away from the road.
And that's going the wrong.
This of course is our first regular show of 2015, so it's that time of the year where we always look back to the past year, at 2014's highest rated cars according to CNET.
Here are the top five out of the nearly one-hundred that we checked the tech on, on the last 12 months.
You know, it's a sign of the times that this, I believe, is the most diverse list of top-rated cars we've ever had.
It's kinda like Noah's car carrier.
We've got a diesel and a battery and a hybrid and a gas engine car.
And, and mixes of all those, all making the list.
So let's go.
Number fives the twenty fourteen bmw five thirty five d. This is the car that proved to us here that a diesel makes for a great sports sedan.
Fantastic torque, great handling, average mpg in the low.
30's real world and the diesel option's only about 15100 bucks more so you might actually earn it back and beyond in the time you have the car.
Of course it's BMW so they make up for it by insulting you with an extra charge for a rear camera.
Number four the 2014 Tesla Model S. Nobody does battery range like Tesla, so it's a car you can really live with.
And go fast in.
And look good in.
Now, like all EVs, it still suffers from charge time, that is a huge multiple of gas time, even at one of their super chargers.
But if you want to crash a meeting of Silicon Valley VCs, this is your best cover.
Number three, the 2015 Kia Soul EV.
But it's not 100 grand, either.
For around 27,000 after a federal tax credit, you get 93 miles of range, snappily delivered with good performance, and that Kia Soul design that has made it the king of its segment.
This is one of the few cars out there that really feels like it was meant to be electric.
Number two is the 2015 BMW i8.
Show up in this and people will think you just held up an auto show.
The i8 is this traffic stopping ball of carbon fiber, battery electrification and sensuous concept car lines.
Unusual for the Germans.
It's a plug in hybrid so you can put that tech to work towards efficiency or towards really remarkable performance.
So in a sense you get two gull wing cars for your 140 grand.
But it's still the priciest car on our list.
Before I take you to our darling of 2014, here are three cars that were marked by remarkable suckage.
Each earning a middling OK rating, with just two and a half stars.
The 2015 Infinity Q70.
Lousy performance and bad ride quality.
There's a two-fer.
The 2014 Fiat 500L, roomy for a Fiat.
And a great sun roof, but, otherwise, a great argument for a Kia Sol.
And the 2014 Ford Fiesta SE Ecoboost.
You better like shifting a gutless car without nav or a modern interface to fall in love with this.
Our number one CNET rated car of 2014 was the 2014 Audi RS7 Quattro.
I shot the video for this guy back in March of '14 and I could've told you then it would likely ace this list.
It doesn't do too much well.
Just engine, transmission, connectivity, interface, efficiency, styling and utility.
It does have a problem.
105,000 of them actually.
But aside from price, this is a car that does the art of automotive engineering proud.
Thanks for watching.
Hope you enjoyed this episode.
Keep those emails coming at OnCars@CNET.com.
I read every one, respond to as many as I can, and of course, a lot of them make it into the show as email replies.
Or segment suggestions, as I'm sure you've noticed.
And of course, wherever you look for video, look for us.
We're probably there.
I'll see you next time we check the tank.