Press days for the 2012 Paris Motor Show have yet to get underway, but Autoblog's European Editor, Matt Davis, has already gotten a good look at what is sure to be one of the exhibition's brightest stars, the McLaren P1.

While Davis was not permitted to take photographs of the new design study until its formal unveiling, our man received a walkaround with designer Frank Stephenson, and what he found was so compelling that he called us right from the show floor to file some notes. According to Davis, "The car is impressively compact – barely bigger than the MP4-12C, but all the comments that were negative about the 12C's design being somewhat basic and derivative should go away with this car." In contrast to most modern supercars that are surprisingly large (e.g. Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini Aventador), the P1 follows in the footsteps of the legendary McLaren F1, which was a lot smaller than most people realized. The P1 is about the size of a Porsche 911 GT3, suggesting weight should be held in check.

Designer Stephenson calls the P1's form "shrink wrapped," yet there's still much more surface interest than with the company's MP4-12C. Davis notes that the design is "very organic in that almost all of the aero elements you see are designed into the body." Among the car's aero tricks, when the rear wing air brake rises to its 32-degree angle maximum, there are also hidden underbody Gurney flaps that open to level out the car.

Power estimates are still under wraps, and while the car seen here is still technically a concept, it is widely expected to spawn a near-identical production series sometime late next year.

We're looking forward to sharing more with you shortly, but for now, feast your eyes on the gallery.

UPDATE – Matt Davis has sent along some new notes:

  • The car as shown is 97-percent final and will be on delivery near the end of 2013.
  • Remember when we told you the P1 was small? It has the smallest frontal area of any car in its segment, yet it still has over 1,300 pounds of downforce up front at 125 mph (Cd is 0.34).
  • Hot air flow through the two hood nostrils is divided precisely between the door aero vents and the center roof snorkel.
  • The car shown here was photographed in the suspension's "race" stance, which is about 1.2-inches lower than normal. Program Director Paul McKenzie says this suspension is as notworthy as the 12c's solution but is goes"one step beyond."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      Probably missed it somewhere, but is this one a 2 seater, or a 1+2 like the F1. I really dug the 1+2 on the F1. Not that I'm in (or will likely ever be,) in the market - but it was just another one on my list of loves for the F1. Probably too small for 3 with what I gather from this description..
        Ben Doolittle
        • 2 Years Ago
        I don't think they have said yet. The test mules were 2 seaters, but the way they have blacked out the windows on this concept leaves me hopeful.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why on Earth did McLaren choose to use the Star Trek insignia as its logo?
        • 2 Years Ago
        It's a kiwi.....surely that's widely known these days
      • 2 Years Ago
      DId the article mean 1300lb of downforce overall at 125mph, or 1300lb at the front of the car as stated? The latter would be beyond impressive and hard to believe.
        • 2 Years Ago
        1300lb front...then what, 2000lb rear to keep it balanced? At "only" 125mph? I think those downforce numbers would be expected on a Formula One car, not a roadcar.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Actually, I've always thought the Veyron looked huge in pictures and was shocked by how small it is in person. The Aventador is gigantic though...
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think it looks awesome - very organic in a space alien sort of way.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Jonathan Ippolito
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love this new P1 but I really wish that it would have been a world class record breaking supercar like the origional F1 was .
      • 2 Years Ago
      this is a production series F1 tech fight b.w ferrari/mclaren ... porsche/lambo can try but the F70 and P1 are gonna be kings. we wont get a real world feel for it till AFTER ferarri releases the specs on the V12+KERS the advantage here is that the mclaren runs the front wheels (like the 918/911 gt3 r hybrid/nsx/audi r18 etron) where the ferrari is just saying that it will ADD hp to the engine running the rear. lets see how this divergence affects the next 20 years.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wow looks like from another planet. how fast this thing can go? how much is it going to cost. how many will can to the USA, and the way traffic is now on days, u can go as fast as 55..I guess for a collector will be ok. buy it and park it. it will be worth more money in about 20 years from now.
      • 2 Years Ago
      It doesn't even look half as good as their last one. UGLY!
      • 2 Years Ago
      Looks spectacular! Can't wait to see whats underneath!
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ilove all these "super" car specially when we are in a stop and go traffic and I pass them .......Idn't know why the drivers always have a sour face , ciould it be because they could not afford to buy the freeway LMAO
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