Mercedes-AMG enters the hypercar race with spectacular Project One video

Mercedes-AMG has entered the exclusive realm of high-end hypercar manufacturers with the unveiling of a spectacular new 740kW plus coupe known under the working title Project One.

Conceived to provide a direct link between the German car maker's F1 racing activities and its road car division, the advanced new model is powered by a heavily reworked version of the turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 petrol engine and electric motor set-up used by the W08 race car, as driven by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

"Motorsport is not an end in itself for us. We are drawing on our experience from three constructors' and drivers' world championships to bring Formula 1 technology to the road for the first time, says Mercedes-Benz chairman, Dieter Zetsche.

Performance figures quoted by Mercedes-AMG put the carbon-fibred bodied Project One's 0-200kmh time at 6.0sec and its top speed at over 350kmh, although with a further 18 months of development before the first customer cars are due to arrive the Mercedes-Benz performance division's company's chairman Tobias Moers says final certification is yet to be carried out on the new coupe, which features an electrically powered front axle that provides it with four-wheel drive in its more performance orientated driving modes.

READ MORE: Inside Mercedes-AMG's F1-powered hypercar

 
Mercedes-AMG Project One.
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Mercedes-AMG Project One.

"The hypercar is the most ambitious project we have ever undertaken. It represents a highlight in the strategic development of Mercedes-AMG. We call it a concept, because obviously we don't have any certified data for things such as emissions and so on [at the moment]. The finished car will be pretty similar," Moers revealed.

A sizeable lithium-ion battery mounted low down within its carbon fibre body structure is also conceived to provide the sleek two seater with a claimed electric range of up to 25 kilometres in front-wheel drive E-mode, allowing it to perform short journeys at a limited speed with zero emissions without the need to engage the combustion engine. Recharging of the battery is performed both on the run using kinetic energy created under braking and coasting or via plug in means via a 800-volt electric architecture.   

Revealed in concept car guise at a media reception on the eve of the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, the Project One will be produced in a limited run of just 275 examples, the first of which is planned to be delivered during the second quarter of 2019, according to Moers.

Mercedes-AMG Project One.
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Mercedes-AMG Project One.

Despite a price tag of €2.27 million (NZ$3.73 million at current exchange rates) and plans for left-hand drive only, the order book for the most extreme Mercedes-AMG model yet is claimed to be fully subscribed.

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Engineering for the Mercedes-AMG hypercar is being carried out in a joint program between AMG in Affalterbach, Germany, its High Performance Powertrain sister company located in Brixworth, England and the Mercedes-AMG Formula One team based in Brackley, England.

"It elevates the standard for what is technical possible to a whole new level with a combination of performance and efficiency that is the absolute benchmark," says Moers.

Mercedes-AMG Project One.
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Mercedes-AMG Project One.

Having already revealed its driveline and chassis at the Nurburgring 24 hour race back in April, AMG now confirms the first in a series of running prototypes of the Project One has hit the road in testing.   

The styling of the Project One has been heavily influenced by the cooling requirements of its F1-sourced driveline and aerodynamic concerns. Based around a carbon fibre monocoque structure, every air intake and panel has been designed to maximize the throughput of air and the generation of downforce.

The new Mercedes-AMG model receives classic mid-engine proportions with a low and short nose, a cabin positioned well forward within the wheelbase and a long and flowing tail. Its surfacing treatment, meanwhile, is characterized by fuller forms much in keeping with the appearance of the latest-generation of Mercedes-Benz models.

Mercedes-AMG Project One.
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Mercedes-AMG Project One.

Key design elements evident on the concept car include a bluff front end with a prominent dual plane splitter mounted low down ahead of a trio of large air ducts, the top outer corners of which are surrounded by thin LED driving lights. There are also vertical winglets set within the outer front corners. Further back are a set of angular headlamps, each featuring three U-shaped LED projector units.

The top of the front wheel houses are punctuated by a trio of vents aimed at reducing pressure build up at high speed, while further venting is incorporated within the flanks to draw hot air away from the front brakes. High mounted exterior mirrors are set on arms that sprout from the doors, which open butterfly style. The two seat cabin features a rounded form and is topped by a central air vent. Solutions used in F1, including a prominent longitudinal wing element mounted centrally within the rear bodywork over the engine compartment, is also used. The engine can be viewed through a clear engine bay cover with cooling vents.

The rear end is dominated by a large pop-up wing. It deploys from the very rear of the bodywork at a set speed to enhance downforce. There's also a large nine channel carbon fibre diffuser, singular round centrally mounted exhaust pipe and vertical winglets similar in style to those used up front mounted along the trailing edges of the rear wheel houses.

Mercedes-AMG Project One.
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Mercedes-AMG Project One.

Inside, the Project One provides seating for two in what Moers describes as a "highly functional" interior that borrows various functions from the snug cockpit of W08 race car. Included is a digital instrument display. There's also a newly developed steering wheel with LED lights signaling the engine revs together with controls for the individual drive programs and suspension settings. A digital display also takes the place of the interior mirror, providing real time video of the rear view via a so-called MirrorCam function.    

At the heart of the Project One is a compact, mid-rear mounted, turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 direct injection petrol engine sourced from Mercedes-AMG's W08 F1 race car but tuned for everyday use. Developed at Mercedes-Benz's High Performance Powertrain division in Brixworth, it is supported by four electric motors – one used to drive the turbocharger, a further larger unit integrated directly into the driveshaft at the rear in a layout similar to the MGU-K (motor generator unit kinetic) used in the current generation of F1 cars and a remaining two that sit within the front axle providing drive to the front wheels.

The four-valve-per-cylinder combustion engine sets new series production standards with an ignition cut out set some 2000rpm higher than any existing road car at 11,000rpm. The front electric motors are also claimed to spin some 30,000rpm higher than existing road car units at 50,000rpm.

Mercedes-AMG Project One.
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Mercedes-AMG Project One.

In a bid to provide the new AMG model with the rabid throttle response typical of an F1 car, the Project One's electrically driven turbocharger adopts a similar operating procedure as the MGU-H (motor generator unit heat) used within the driveline of the W08 F1. It is claimed to reach 100,000rpm on wide open throttle loads.

The AMG hypercar's MGU-K converts mechanical and heat energy into electrical energy that can be stored for later deployment, and the MGU-H that takes heat from the exhaust and uses it to create electrical energy.

The V6 petrol engine is claimed to produce over 380kW, with the driveshaft mounted electric motor contributing a further 120kW to the rear wheels. Up front, the two electric motors each deliver 120kW for a combined 240kW within a purely electric driven front axle featuring a similar torque vectoring function to that developed by AMG for the earlier SLS Electric Drive.

Altogether, the combustion engine and electric motors deliver a combined output put at over 740kW. Drive is channeled to the rear wheels via a newly developed hydraulically operated eight-speed automated gearbox with remote steering wheel mounted shift paddles. It offers the choice of either automatic or manual modes.

All up, the petrol engine, electric motors and gearbox are claimed to weigh 520kg. No official kerb weight figure for the new car has yet been revealed though Moers says rumours suggesting it would hit the scales at close to 1000kg are premature.

Underpinning the new range topping AMG model is a race grade chassis featuring an adjustable multi link suspension set-upwith push rods both front and rear – the latter attached directly to the engine block. It is allied to standard 19-inch front and 20-inch rear centre lock alloy wheels shod with 285/35 and 335/30 profile tyres respectively.

As in current AMG models, the Project One receives a switchable ESP stability control system offering three distinct modes: ESP On, ESP Sport Handling Mode and ESP Off. Braking is via standard carbon ceramic discs supported by what AMG describes as specially developed calipers.

Moers is confident owners of the AMG hypercar will enjoy driving it, contending you won't have to be a superstar driver to handle its prodigious reserves or lightening acceleration.

"You open the door, hit the start button and drive. Easy," he says. "We have the most modern technology. The GT R is very innovative regarding ESP functionalities. The hypercar is going to have the next level. Controlling two individual motors on the front axle – we know how that works. We initially developed with the SLS Electric Drive. Everything about torque vectoring, we know what we can do."

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