McLaren P1 guru spills more info on his hypercar

We know the McLaren P1 is pretty much ready to fly into lucky US owners' underground bunkers by the latter part of fall 2013. We should get a go at an early production version by late June, we are told, and as you would imagine, we can't wait. The running number on the price for the United States remains pegged at $1.15 million.

The main facts remain the same: The P1 runs off a twin-power hybrid powerplant good for a combined 903 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque. Thrusting thrills are provided by both the push-button operated Drag Reduction System (or DRS), chopping drag by 23 percent by flattening the rear wing, and by the push-button operated Instant Power Assist System (IPAS) feeding instantaneous added electric-motor oomph through the gearbox straight to the drivetrain. The slingshot from 0 to 186 miles per hour (i.e. 300 kilometers per hour) happens in less than 17 seconds.

Shivers. While at the Geneva Motor Show where the P1 showed itself in full production trim and in screaming picture-hogging yellow, we chatted about further details with the P1's chief of engineering design, Dan Parry-Williams. To all the specification fodder we already have on the P1, Parry-Williams added some chum.
  • Not to worry, exhaust-sound fans! Parry-Williams assures us that the exhaust was a matter of great concern on the P1. He reports, "This has been extensively worked on versus the 12C. It is very different and, oh, you'll hear it."
  • Despite having the smallest frontal area in the hypercar segment, all the aerodynamics serve the function of directing major amounts of the rapidly passing air to the enormous active rear spoiler. Downforce at 160 mph (i.e. 257 km/h) therefore is 1,322 pounds force, and it stays at that level through to the top speed of 217 mph.
  • Whereas the ProActive Chassis for the MP4-12C has to deal with chassis heave (fore/aft), warp (diagonally left-to-right/front-to-rear twisting), and roll (side-to-side), the same technology on the P1, according to Parry-Williams, has no warp/twisting action happening at all. This we gotta drive."
  • "Race" mode on the newer ProActive Chassis is – get this – 350-percent stiffer than the default normal setting.
  • There is separate throttle mapping for each of the seven gears of the Seamless Shift Gearbox, yet each gear has the same pedal feel while engaged. This progressive pedal action can manifest itself nicely also during the programmed "negative" torque generated during each shift upward in order to lower revs, creating a wider, more dramatic torque band from each gear, and one hell of a sound.
  • A typical F1 racecar is two inches off the ground (50 millimeters). The P1 in front descends to just 2.56 inches off the ground (65 mm), while in back it rests at 3.54 inches from the pavement (90 mm).
  • As with the individual throttle mapping for each gear, the braking is calibrated to require minimal pedal effort for maximum effect. Parry-Williams tells us that it is very "light touch." Will this end up a small thorn in the side of owners as was the original (and then abandoned) Pre-Cog race-inspired shifting for the 12C? We shall see.
First deliveries of the McLaren P1 will happen at the start of summer this year in a few foreign markets and to those ultra-crazy-rich willing to pay for the privilege. For all others only willing to foot the $1.15 mil, probably October. In its 2013 launch year, production will be upped ahead of time to assure more customers get their P1s as soon as possible. By the start of 2014, the rhythm should be at something around 375 units per annum.

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