Supercars with earth-shattering performance aren’t supposed to be environmentally conscious. Yet, the times we live in dictate they’re going to have to be or they’re not going to be around too much longer.
The 2014 McLaren P1 is among the first to conform, officially debuting its hybrid powertrain before next month’s Geneva Motor Show. What’s familiar to supercar fans is the turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 engine, borrowed from the $240,000 McLaren MP4-12C. In this application, it’s been bumped up from 616 horsepower to 727. Where it differs is that the engine block is specially cast to adopt an electric motor and be able to cool it to the requirements dictated by a car that will inevitably produce another 176 horsepower.
This technology is new to street-going supercars, but Formula 1 racing has had it for years, calling it Kinetic Energy Regeneration System (KERS), which uses the brakes to capture battery power and use it for small bursts from an electric motor. In the McLaren P1, the car will be able to use the battery for go-fast power or city driving where it will be able to drive as a full electric vehicle for more than 6 miles. In California, that might be enough to land you carpool lane privileges. It will, after all, be a true plug-in hybrid–something you might want to mention to your neighbor that just bought a Prius Plug-in.
All of that power will be routed through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, taking power to the rear wheels. The McLaren P1 will have a drag-reducing mode that will lower its spoiler to better cut through the air, helping with fuel economy or top speed–not both at the same time. In addition, McLaren says the P1′s battery will be lightweight and ultra-efficient, boasting a full charging time of just two hours.
We’ll find out more specifics about the 2014 McLaren P1 at next month’s show in Geneva, including weight, performance, and hopefully some sort of rumbling of price, rumored to be around $1 million. We’ll also get our first look at its chief competitor from Ferrari, which, not coincidentally, is also anticipated to be a hybrid.