Whether or not you think the McLaren P1 is a worthy successor to the legendary F1, there’s no denying the car’s unique design, promised performance and overall anticipation levels make it one of the most exciting cars of the coming year--and that’s saying a lot considering 2013 will also see Ferrari launch a successor to the Enzo and Porsche finally reveal its production 918 Spyder.

The Paris Auto Show’s reveal of the P1 design study gave the world a fairly accurate look at the planned styling for the new P1, with actual prototypes caught testing across Europe appearing almost identical to the show car.

What that design study as well as the previous spy shots didn't reveal, however, is the P1’s presence on public roads and the impressive sound of its V-8 engine.

Yes, the new P1 is expected to forgo a prestigious V-12 and feature instead an uprated version of the same twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 found in the MP4-12C. The good news is that a F1-inspired KERS is also expected, helping to give the car an additional boost when required. Combined output could end up being 800 horsepower or more.

McLaren told us that each horsepower the P1 generates will only have to carry 3.7 pounds or less, so with an output of around 800 horsepower we could be looking at a car that tips the scales at less than 3,000 pounds.

That’s made possible by the car’s carbon fiber construction. The P1 gets a new ‘MonoCage’ structure that uses the carbon fiber monocoque and roof structure to form a strong safety cage. The structure of the MonoCage, unlike the 12C’s MonoCell, also serves to guide air into the engine through an integral roof snorkel and air intake ducts, saving further weight.

Looking at this latest prototype, the same curved inlets of the P1 design study and integrated headlights dominate, while roof and rear fender scoops are also prominent. The rear is also nearly identical to the preview P1, right down to the integrated diffuser, vented engine cover, and extendable rear wing.

All those aero features will allow the P1 to generate more than 1,320 pounds of downforce before reaching its top speed. Note, those rather mundane tail-lights are likely to be temporary units only used during testing.

As for the car’s performance, it’s still too early to say. You can bet it will do the 0-60 mph sprint in under 3.0 seconds, though with the engine only spinning the rear wheels it may not be able to outmatch the all-wheel-drive Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, let alone the rumored ‘Super’ Veyron.

And we know it won’t beat the Bug’s top speed. McLaren said it wants the P1 to be the best driver’s car in the world, both on the road and track, which means it’s unlikely to break any land speed records.

Stay tuned as development of the McLaren P1 continues, and look for a debut of the production version at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show in March. In the meantime, click here for our complete coverage on the car thus far.


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