Every other year, the automotive industry – one of the largest in the world – comes to the Porte de Versailles in Paris to display its latest developments. Alternating year to year with Frankfurt, the Paris Motor Show represents the first major automobile exposition after the summer lull, and this year's did not disappoint.
One of the most eagerly anticipated new debuts came from McLaren Automotive, which displayed at a major auto show for the first time. The Formula One racing team that made its mark on the world with the legendary McLaren F1, and later teamed up with Mercedes-Benz to produce the SLR McLaren, recently relaunched itself with the MP4-12C. But the Paris Show debut is what people have been looking forward to most.
Taking the place left by the F1 and its name from the first position at a grand prix race – a position which McLaren knows well – the McLaren P1 promises to turn our notions of what an automobile can do right on its head.
The product of many years of development, the P1's design is driven by an obsession with lightweight construction and aerodynamics. The majority of the carbon-fiber bodywork is made up of two giant clamshells, with just a few other pieces here and there to fill in the blanks. The shape is not only one of the slipperiest in the business (with a drag coefficient of just 0.34), but also produces 600 kg of downforce (the pressure exerted by the air passing over the bodywork to keep a car planted to the road). All the while, the styling penned by Frank Stephenson (who previously designed for the likes of Mini, BMW, Ferrari and Maserati, to name just a few) looks far more dramatic than the 12C it supersedes.
The British outfit has yet to reveal the technical details of what will motivate the dramatic new shape and the carbon monoque chassis over which it is draped, but we're expecting an upgraded version of McLaren's 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine paired to a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (like the one used in Formula One) for a hybrid power-train tipped to produce around 800 horsepower.