The P1's overall shape is reminiscent of the smaller MP4-12C but its details are far more exotic. The P1 features a truncated front end with a highly-stylized front fascia, butterfly doors, headlamps that mimic McLaren's boomerang-shaped logo and flowing character lines that give the car a look of motion even when it's standing still. Out back, the P1 is characterized by a high-mounted center exhaust, a large spoiler, meandering LED tail lamps and a functional air diffuser.
The finishing touch is added by 10-spoke wheels crafted out of high-strength aluminum. Mounted on low-profile Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires designed specifically for the P1, the wheels have a diameter of 19 inches in the front and 20 inches in the back.
Designed as a driver's car, the P1 features an interior that is centered around the driver and there are no unnecessarily switches or buttons to be found on the dashboard. This creates a remarkably clean cockpit that is seldom seen in the supercar world. A deep wraparound windshield ensures the best possible visibility in all driving conditions.
McLaren went to great lengths to lower the P1's weight to a minimum and the dashboard, the floors, the headliner, the door panels and the center console are all crafted out of unpainted carbon fiber. To further push the envelope, the top layer of resin on the carbon fiber has been removed and the P1 does not come standard with carpet or sound deadening material.
The two bucket seats are also crafted out of carbon fiber and filled with as little foam as possible. They can only be manually adjusted forward and backwards in order to avoid adding the unnecessary pounds typically associated with multi-way adjustable setups.
In spite of its track-focused vocation, the P1 packs the usual assortment of convenience features including full climate control, satellite navigation and a Meridian sound system.
The instrument cluster consists of a 6.8-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) central screen flanked on each side by a 3-inch TFT outer screen. The three combined screens provide vital information about the P1's drivetrain and surroundings as well as specific menus for the different driving modes.
Under the Hood
The P1 is powered by a revised version of the twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 engine that is also found in the engine bay of the MP4-12C. The mill features a Formula 1-inspired dry sump lubrication system and a low sited flat plane crankshaft that helps reduce the center of gravity. By itself the eight-cylinder makes 727 horsepower and 7,500 rpms and 531 lb-ft. of torque from 4,000 rpms.
A 57-pound electric motor integrated into the V8 engine produces 176 horsepower and 190 lb-ft. of torque, providing an acceleration boost when needed and helping offset the low-end lag typically associated with turbochargers. The motor enabled McLaren engineers to use beefier turbos than they normally would without worrying about creating excessive amounts of lag.
The electric motor gets juice from a 211-pound lithium-ion battery pack designed with an emphasis on power delivery. Mounted between the seats and the engine bay for better weight distribution, the pack can be recharged using kinetic energy or in just two hours by plugging an on-board charger into a regular household outlet. Alternatively, the P1 packs a world-first "pit lane charging" system that uses the V8 as a generator to give the battery a full charge in just ten minutes.
The power generated by the V8 and by the electric motor reaches the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox that can be controlled with carbon fiber shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.
The driver can select between three different driving modes: E-mode, Instant Power Assist System (IPAS) mode, and Active.
In E-mode, the P1 operates as an electric car that is cleaner and quieter than most economy cars for a maximum of six miles at speeds of up to 99 mph. The V8 kicks in automatically when the battery runs out of electricity, charges it in as little as ten minutes and immediately shuts off. In order to preserve energy, the he transmission shifts automatically and cannot be controlled with shift paddles when E-mode is engaged and overall performance is reduced.
IPAS mode delivers the drivetrain's full 903 horsepower and 663 lb-ft. of torque, sending the car from zero to 62 mph in less than three seconds and on to a track-worthy top speed of 217 mph. IPAS also lets the driver use the Boost button on the steering wheel to instantly deliver the electric motor's full output when the engine is close to wide-open throttle.
Active mode is primarily designed to enhance the P1's track worthiness. It unlocks a host of driver-activated features including sport and track suspension settings, a Launch mode and a Race mode that lowers the car and considerably stiffens the suspension.
The P1 comes standard with a vehicle lift system that raises the suspension in order to avoid scraping the underbody on low ramps.
Production of the P1 is limited to just 375 examples and every example has been spoken for. Its main competitors are the Ferrari LaFerrari, the latest masterpiece from the Prancing Horse brand, and the Porsche 918 Spyder, Stuttgart's newest halo car, but both are also sold out.