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McLaren P1: Instant reaction before the Paris motor show

Tue, 18 Sep 2012

McLaren has just zoomed to the front of the pack of reveals planned for the Paris motor show.

This is easily one of the glitziest events on the car calendar, and European shows tend to bring out the best in concepts and style. But the P1 is the leader so far. My instant, guttural reaction from viewing these first shots is positive, emotional and intense. It looks exactly like a modern McLaren supercar should.

It's a slightly different take—with more curves—on the MP4-12C. I'd argue on paper (if you're reading the Oct. 1 issue of Autoweek), or on your computer screen, this modern British assassin measures up to the superlative F1 supercar of the 1990s. Not just in looks, but in regards to intent and purpose.

The F1 was once the fastest road car in the world, but McLaren brass say the P1 will also have excellent handling qualities that are about more than top speed. But, yes, it will be blindingly fast.

A car produced by a company with the most historic success this side of Ferrari in Grand Prix competition would aim for nothing less.

McLaren says this will be a range-topping version for its lineup, which includes coupe and spider versions of the MP4-12C. The company will use technology from that supercar—and advance it. Specs are not confirmed, but we expect the P1 will employ an upgraded version of the twin-turbo V8 fortified with KERS. Plus McLaren's carbon-fiber monocoque will advance lightweight technology even further.

In a nutshell: the P1 will eclipse these supercars. That's an impressive accomplishment.

Ferrari: Your move.

The 2012 Paris motor show, or as it is officially known – Mondail de l'Automobile – will take place Sept. 27 through Oct. 14, 2012. It occurs every two years alternating with the Frankfurt motor show in Germany. The Paris motor show is a spotlight for the latest in design, but automakers will also be showing off their latest concept cars, green cars and supercars.

By Greg Migliore