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Supercars

The game-changing McLaren P1 is 10 years old in 2023

And how good does this 903bhp hybrid haymaker still look today? A 10/10 TG rated car

Published: 09 Mar 2023

“It may not be the fastest car in the world in absolute top speed, but that was never our goal,” McLaren’s P1 programme director Paul MacKenzie told TG back in 2013. “Rather, we believe it is the fastest ever car on a racing circuit, a much more important technical statement, and far more relevant for on-road driving.”

Welcome then, to 10 years of a game-changing hypercar – for McLaren Automotive – and a way to make us feel very old indeed. It was March 2013 that McLaren pulled the wraps off its hugely anticipated successor to the legendary F1 at that year’s Geneva Motor Show.

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Ten years. You can chart the history of McLaren’s road-car development directly from this V8 haymaker. And though it might not have chased the outright speed record its daddy did back in the Nineties, it was – heck, is – an otherworldly fast car.

Though McLaren would rather you didn’t make the mental connection betwixt F1 team and road car division these days, a decade ago it was Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 championship winning F1 car that served as inspiration for the P1’s gorgeous, slippery bodywork.

It was made from carbon fibre, shaped to guide air where it was needed the most to ‘shrink-wrap’ itself around the drivetrain. And boy, what a drivetrain. While it lost out in the noise stakes to the supernatural LaFerrari and its mesmerising V12, the P1’s V8 wasn’t short of drama. Like, fifth-gear-wheelspin-on-a-greasy-motorway style drama.

McLaren fitted a Very Tweaked version of its venerable 3.8-litre V8 from the MP4-12C, using a pair of turbochargers and a fair dollop of Formula One tech to deliver 727bhp and 531lb ft of torque. To this came an electric motor with double the power of F1’s then KERS – 176bhp – together with a lightweight battery pack on board.

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McLaren P1 review: a 10/10 car

Total power then, was 903bhp and 664lb ft of torque, the latter limited to protect the clutch and likely your own mortality. It’d do 0-62mph in 2.8s which is still bonkers even today, 0-124mph in 6.8s and top out at 217mph.

Part rolling tribute to its F1 history, the P1 was a 903bhp test bed for hybridisation (it could actually run on e-power alone, hilariously), and proof of concept that a hypercar that could work across the circuit and the so-called real world. Indeed, just look at the Ferrari SF90. Yes, 217mph is slower than its F1 predecessor, but the P1 was never about absolute top speed.

McLaren P1 Top Gear

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