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McLaren P12 supercar (2012) first teaser shot

Wed, 05 Sep 2012

Here we have the very first official McLaren teaser shot of the Woking brand's upcoming flagship hybrid supercar, codenamed P12.

The picture may appear nothing more than a colourful light show, but we can spot certain elements of the P12's styling. Don't worry - CAR has a handful of tech details behind the new Brit supercar as well.

Is this really a teaser shot of the 2012 McLaren P12?

Believe it or not, there is a car lurking in the picture, boasting some noticeable McLaren design cues.

Around the top corner of the headlight on the right of the shot (the car's left cluster) we can see the McLaren logo-aping light design that's familiar from the MP4-12C. Lower down, there's an aggressive front splitter and a reinterpretation of the 12C's front bumper.

Unlike the McLaren supercar we all know so well, the brake cooling ducts under the headlights are much more sharply styled - no soft curves and friendly face here.

McLaren is responding to criticism of the 12C for looking a touch unexciting (compared to Ferraris and Lamborghinis) and the P12 is the perfect canvas upon which to redraw McLaren's image.

Who is responsible for the design of the McLaren P12?

Aesthetics are the jurisdiction of Frank Stephenson, who also did the modern Mini and Fiat 500. However, the P12 will be anything but retro, save perhaps for the Zagato-style double-bubble roof profile just visible in this teaser sketch. Why the contoured roof? To allow for a centre snorkel engine air intake, just like the world-beating McLaren F1 of the 1990s.

Because the MP4-12C's design was all but signed off by the time Stephenson joined the team, he could only make small tweaks to the car's neat but uninspiring profile. The P12 is a clean sheet project for Frank, so the cab-forward bubble cockpit, wider flanks and ultra-low rear profile (a la Koenigsegg) will be far more radical. After all, a car with a cutting-edge powertrain deserves jaw-dropping looks...

So what's going to power McLaren's F1 successor?

Don't hold your breath for an F1-style normally aspirated V12 powerplant. Even the most exotic of super sports cars have to be seen to give a nod to ecological technology, but handily this plays right into the hands of the F1 link that McLaren lays on so thick.

So, expect a racing car KERS married to the MP4-12C's 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8, currently good for 616bhp, but tuneable for even more power for its P12 role.

The hybrid boost button will liberate up to 200bhp extra, giving the P12 potentially Veyron-matching acceleration, while remaining rear-wheel drive. With Porsche and Ferrari also plotting hybrid hypercars, a new dawn of super performance cars could be approaching.

By Ollie Kew