AMG hypercar to be powered by genuine 1000bhp F1 power unit
AMG’s hypercar and new car launches this month
MERCEDES WILL CELEBRATE THE 50th anniversary of its AMG performance division throughout 2017. The company is planning an event at the Nürburgring 24 Hours in May, and at the Detroit motor show in January it unveiled a new version of the AMG GT, called the GT C, which slots in neatly between the GT S and the range-topping GT R. Much more exciting than a birthday party and a derivative model, though, is AMG’s forthcoming 1000bhp, Formula 1-engined road-legal hypercar.
I met up with AMG CEO Tobias Moers in Detroit to quiz him on the division’s plans for the year and, of course, the car likely to be the highlight of 2017. What you need to know about Moers is that he gives forthright interviews. Ask him a question he doesn’t want to answer and he’ll give you a short, irritated reply, more often than not a single word, or maybe even just a glare.
‘We will do an event at the Nürburgring,’ he said, curtly, ‘but I don’t think we’ll have a party at the factory and invite everybody.’
I’ve interviewed Moers enough times to know that you don’t press him on something he doesn’t want to talk about. I also know that when you do luck upon something he’s actually interested in, he can give away far more than you ever dared hope for as the press officer who’s with him squirms and winces.
That’s how I know the new hypercar will have four electric motors, one on each wheel, with torque-vectoring on the front axle (where it’s most effective) and active aerodynamics. It’ll be a road-legal two-seater, costing ‘two point something million euros’, and 200-300 will be built. It will have a little over 1000bhp and weigh slightly more than 1100kg. And its main propulsion unit will be a Mercedes Formula 1 engine…
‘Project One is the working title for the hypercar,’ said Moers, pushing a glossy black brochure my way. ‘This is the brochure we’re sending to prospective customers right now.’ It’s notepad-sized and just 12 or 14 pages thick. The copy inside only runs to a few hundred words, but most billionaire car nuts living in the Middle East or wherever will almost certainly wire over their deposits before they’ve even read it.
Both the 1.6-litre V6 turbo engine and the hybrid system will come from Mercedes’ Formula 1 car. That’s the same power unit that has dominated F1 for the past three seasons, winning consecutive teams’ and drivers’ titles as well as countless races along the way. The more one thinks about it, the more outrageous it seems to put an F1 motor into a road car. ‘It is crazy,’ agreed Moers. ‘It’s never been done before. Mercedes is the only company that’s capable of doing this.’
But it’s just a derivative of the F1 engine and not the real thing, surely… Or it has the same basic mechanical layout but it’s actually a new unit in its own right. ‘No, it’s the Formula 1 engine. Okay, the crank house is cast and not machined due to the volumes. And it is a little bit different because we’ve moved the idle revs down from 4000 to 2200rpm, but the red line is still above 10,000rpm. We have the split turbo. We have the same crank. We still have very good thermal efficiency. We’re going to use the battery from the Formula 1 car, but in a bigger size. The one and only reason for doing this car is that it has the same engine as the Formula 1 car.’
Naturally, making an F1 power
unit road legal has been an enormous challenge for Mercedes’ High Performance Powertrain (HPP) team in Brixworth, Northamptonshire, and despite the very low production numbers the car still needs to meet all the usual emissions regulations. ‘There’s no exemption,’ said Moers. ‘We’ve got to do it. Without tricks. It’s a huge challenge for Brixworth. We’ve invested in a new bench there and we fired up the first engine in December last year.’
A couple of hours before my interview, Moers announced that the hypercar will have a 25km electric range, which means it’ll have plug-in capability. He didn’t care to discuss the prospective customers with me, but did say there are some famous names on the list, including a few we wouldn’t expect. He also confirmed there’ll be a driver training programme, but was keen to point out that buyers won’t need a team of technicians to start the car. ‘Just turn the key and go for a drive.’
The Project One, to be unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in September, was Moers’ idea. ‘I phoned Andy Cowell at HPP and asked him to do me a favour,’ he explained. That’s why Moers was so forthcoming when asked about it, so eager to reveal all the juicy details. The hypercar isn’t a vanity project, though. It will serve a broader purpose for Mercedes, and that’s to prepare you and me for hybrid-powered series production AMGs. They’ll arrive after 2020.
With Aston Martin’s own ultraexpensive, super-exotic, warp-speed hypercar – the Adrian Newey-penned AM-RB 001 – also on the way, it seems we’re edging towards the most spectacular twin-test of all time.
The one and only reason for doing this car is that it has the same engine as the
Formula 1 car
Above: An informed rendering of what Project One could look like. Below: The whole AMG GT family including, in yellow, the new GT C