2014 MCLAREN P1 Alas, we only got to drive it around our photo stu­dio but we just couldn’t pass up the chance to train our cam­eras on Mclaren’s lat­est cre­ation — es­pe­cially one adorned with a hand­ful of pa­paya–or­ange ‘speedy Kiwi’ de­cals

New Zealand Classic Car - - Front Page - Words: Al­lan Wal­ton Pho­tos: Adam Croy


You’ve got to hand it to Mclaren when they do it prop­erly. Back in 1992 when they launched the Gor­don Mur­ray– de­signed F1 road car, by push­ing ex­ist­ing au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy to the very limit, they came up with what many quickly la­beled as the quick­est pro­duc­tion car in the world. To em­pha­size those claims — and with loads of spe­cial tweaks — the F1 GTR racer promptly scored an over­all win at Le Mans in 1995 with F1 GTRS also tak­ing up third, fourth, fifth, and thir­teenth places. Ac­cord­ing to Mclaren, the F1’s top speed was 386km/h — well­proven in 1998 when Andy Wal­lace took Mclaren’s five-year-old pro­to­type to VW’S test track in Ger­many and recorded a max­i­mum speed of 391km/h.

So, when ev­ery­one heard of Mclaren’s de­ci­sion to de­velop a hy­brid petrol/elec­tric ve­hi­cle, it was a pretty cer­tain bet that they wouldn’t be com­ing up with some­thing along the lines of Toy­ota’s sim­i­larly pow­ered Prius — a favourite amongst celebri­ties look­ing to shed their rich and shame­less images.

And you’ll need to be fairly well heeled to have been in a po­si­tion to ac­quire Mclaren’s hy­brid su­per­car, the P1; a wor­thy (can we say eco-friendly?) suc­ces­sor to the F1. Oddly enough, one of the first peo­ple to re­ceive their own P1 was US talk-show host and car col­lec­tor, Jay Leno.


For those who en­joy the tech­ni­cal bits (an area that the com­pany’s founder, Bruce Mclaren, was well into) the P1’s dramatically styled car­bon-fi­bre mono­coque body hides (the en­gine isn’t de­signed for pry­ing hands and open­ing the com­part­ment lid is a ser­viceonly task) a fur­ther devel­op­ment of the 3.8-litre V8 as used in the Mclaren 650S. With larger tur­bocharg­ers and 20.3psi boost, there’s no short­age of petrol power. Add in a fur­ther wedge of power and torque from the on­board elec­tric mo­tor, and the P1 can call upon a to­tal power out­put of 673kw along with a throt­tlebend­ing 980Nm of torque.

De­spite all that fear­some power on tap, on our first in­tro­duc­tion to this fea­tured P1 we barely heard any­thing as it mo­tored down into our photo stu­dio — in pure elec­tric mode, the P1 is good for a range of around 10kms, enough for it to get from the Mclaren show­room to our stu­dio.

How­ever, in or­der to charge up the car’s on­board bat­tery pack so we could ac­ti­vate some of the car’s clev­erer fea­tures, we soon had the twin-turbo V8 fired up.

I then sat down with Luke Neu­berger, Mclaren Auck­land’s Sales Manager, as he ran me through the steps re­quired start the car (easy) and to lower the P1 into race mode and raise that huge rear wing (not so easy). Around this point, old–school clas­sic car guys like me start to get lost. Once Luke had left us to it, even with as­sis­tance from the P1’s beau­ti­ful hi–res video dash­board, it took me a while to sort ev­ery­thing out to our fussy pho­tog­ra­pher’s lik­ing.

Sit­ting in the P1’s snug cock­pit (shame its not three abreast like the old F1) it was in­ter­est­ing to check out all the modes that Mclaren have in­stalled into this most su­per of su­per­cars. As well as stan­dard road mode, you can also se­lect e-mode, which shows shades of the Prius, sport or race. When that last op­tion is se­lected, the car’s hi–tech hy­drop­neu­matic sus­pen­sion hard­ens up and the P1’s body sinks grace­fully un­til its im­por­tant lit­tle bits —split­ter, rear dif­fuser, and sides skirts — are al­most kiss­ing the road. And, of course, the car’s rear wing as­cends just as the­atri­cally. The pity is, from the driver’s seat you sim­ply can’t see all this drama un­fold­ing!

In race mode, the tech­ni­cal gu­rus at Mclaren reckon the P1 gen­er­ates as much as 1323 pounds of down­force at 260km/h — prob­a­bly mak­ing the P1 a ripe con­tender in re­la­tion to the muchdis­cussed the­ory that a car can de­velop so much down­force it could, quite lit­er­ally, be driven on the roof of a tun­nel. I’m pretty sure that Mclaren Auck­land wouldn’t have been too keen on us try­ing that out.

Out­selling Fer­rari

Our black Mac is now in the hands of its new owner, who’s re­port­edly been en­joy­ing the hell out of it on his lo­cal roads down in Hawke’s Bay — and although we never got to take the P1 out

for a blast, it was great get­ting up close and per­sonal with such an amaz­ing bit of mo­tor­ing kit.

In­ter­est­ingly, Luke Neu­berger tells us that Mclaren cars ac­tu­ally out­sold Fer­rari here in New Zealand in 2014. “Given we have one pro­duc­tion model, the 650S, this is a huge ac­com­plish­ment for Mclaren only in its first year on sale in New Zealand. We partly at­tribute that suc­cess to the Bruce Mclaren story and the marque’s early rac­ing her­itage. Like our cus­tomers, we too are proud of our Kiwi be­gin­nings,” says Luke.

Fancy a P1? Too late. All 375 ex­am­ples have now been built and sold and, sur­prise sur­prise, our fea­tured P1 is only one of the three that are ex­pected to take up per­ma­nent res­i­dency within our shores.

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