The new McLaren P1 is a hybrid, but this is hybrid power like you’ve never known before. The McLaren P1 puts down a combined 913 PS and 900Nm of torque, all while emitting less than 200g/km of CO2, with the ability to run on emission-free electric drive mode as well. This is the future of supercars.
The combustion engine part of the McLaren P1′s hybrid powertrain is a revised version of the 3.8 litre M838T motor that debuted in the McLaren MP4-12C. It has been significantly upgraded to optimise cooling and durability under the higher loads, and the engine block has now been modified to interface with an electric motor. The combustion engine alone does 737 PS at 7,500rpm and 720Nm of torque from 4,000rpm, in a brilliant combination of both high revving and turbocharging.
The P1′s M838T is paired with a lightweight electric motor developed by the McLaren Electronics arm of the Group. It produces 179 PS and 260Nm of torque, of which all 260 are available from standstill. The electric motor is mounted directly onto the engine, and all drive is channelled through the dual-clutch seven-speed gearbox to drive the rear wheels.
An interesting use of the electric motor is to provide faster upshifts. This is achieved through the application of instant negative torque at the point of shift, making the engine revs drop as quickly and efficiently as possible to the required engine speed for the upshift. When off-throttle the electric motor provides additional drag torque, recovering energy to the battery that would otherwise be lost to the brakes.
In E-mode, in which the car is powered by the electric motor alone, the McLaren P1 can travel up to 10km on a full charge. When the battery is empty, the petrol engine will automatically start to maintain drive and charge the battery.
In additional to recharging by the engine or brake energy regeneration, the McLaren P1 is also equipped with a plug-in charger which can recharge the battery, from empty, in only two hours. The plug-in charger can be stored in the luggage compartment, although the customer may choose to store it off-board – in a garage or the pits – to save weight.
On the steering wheel, you will find two interesting buttons. One is to activate the the DRS (Drag Reduction System) and the other will activate IPAS (Instant Power Assist System). The DRS system uses a movable flap on the rear wing to reduce the amount of drag on the rear wing. The wing reduces in angle to lower drag by 23%. The system immediately deactivates when the button is released, or if the driver touches the brake pedal.
IPAS is designed to deliver power rapidly for high performance acceleration, and provides 179PS of instant additional power via the electric motor. In this mode, power delivery is prioritised over energy storage. The McLaren P1′s battery uses a combination of high power cells, low pack weight and an innovative cooling system. The battery weighs just 96kg, and is mounted onto the underbody of the high-strength Formula 1-grade carbon fibre MonoCage chassis, which seals the unit in the vehicle, thus avoiding the added weight of any unnecessary battery packaging. Coolant flow is balanced so each cell is cooled to the same temperature across the entire pack.
This may seem like a lot of info on the car already, but McLaren says full details will only be released in the coming weeks prior to the Geneva Motor Show, where the P1 will be shown to the public officially.