McLaren, which I guess you could call the only Kiwi car brand at the Paris Motor Show, albeit one that does not have a dealership closer than Sydney, says its new P1 supercar is designed to be "the best driver's car in the world on road and track."
Amid the biggest crowd attending a model unveiling at the show, the P1 has rightly been heralded as the star of the occasion and the few figures released attest to a machine that trumps everything Ferrari had on offer this week.
A launch date has been given as "during the Northern Hemisphere Spring," which suggests that a production sign-off car will be seen at the Geneva Salon in March, at which time fuller details will have been revealed about the car. It is known that the price will be in the region of NZ$1.5 million.
Expected to use a hybrid system employing a flywheel type of Formula One Kers system of energy recovery, the new McLaren P1 has a power to weight ratio of more than 450kW per tonne and a total of around 540kW, with the potential for that to be expanded to upwards of 670kW (900 horsepower).
With Kers - a Kinetic Energy Recover System - the McLaren's programme director Paul Mackenzie is quoted saying that the P1 is designed to seem like an F1 car at the prod of a button, while it will also offer high levels of refinment and poise in normal road-going scenarios.
McLaren is still coy about the car's actual drivetrain and hasn't even shown the car with its engine or cabin compartment open to view.
It is known that unlike the company's still much revered F1 supercar which was first seen some 20 years ago, the P1 will not have a three-seat arrangement with a central driving position, but will be a two-seater, available in left-hand-drive only. This should not upset too many, as this car is designed to be used on the track as much as on the road.
McLaren says that the P1 will be able to create an impressive 600kg of downforce without going near the car's top speed, a figure that is already several times that of the company's 12C road car and in the region of that generated by its GT3 race car.
The car is to use three adustable ride-heights with the lowest set-up for race and track, bringing the model's aerodynamic aids, skirts and diffusers side skirts closer to the road surface for ground effect. The other heights will allow normal road running and a special maximum height setting for negotiating ramps and traffic calming measures.
While the P1 is expected to be mechanically similar to the 3.8-litre 12C, McLaren says its so-called 'Mono-Cage' carbon-fibre is unique.
The P1 uses a different core carbon fibre structure - dubbed Mono-Cage - to the 12C, which incorporates a carbon roll-bar over the cabin. A roll-over bar seen on the outside of the vehicle and forms an air intake to allow a flow of air into the engine bay.
The car's dramatic shape is described by its executors as more of a joint engineering/design effort than usual, and designer Frank Stephenson who penned the original F1 as well as other modern classics says the P1 was intended to have the appearance of an endurance sports car or ''Le Mans racer...with a long, low body, long rear deck and open mesh styling to put the mechanicals on view to help cooling.''
Design detailing includes shaped scoops and lamps that mimic the McLaren company's simple Kiwi-like logo, sweeping around the car's nose and side and cutting big cooling airflow routes through to the engine, brakes and KERS system. Even the doors when closed help duct air through to the rear-mounted radiators.
The P1's rear wing set-up is adjustable for road and track use in terms of its front-rear placement as well as in pitch, which can be altered by up to 29 degrees.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should overseas tourists have to sit a practical driving test before being allowed to drive on New Zealand's roads?Related story: Grieving son, 9, may force driving tests for tourists
Gear up for that big holiday drive
Tips on how to do a safe river crossing
On the road and prepared for the cold snap