Hong Kong drivers face tough road to owning 'supercar' McLaren P1
A "handful" of local collectors have expressed an interest in acquiring a McLaren P1 hypercar - of which only 375 will be made. The P1, a belated successor to the legendary McLaren F1, will cost HK$8.9 million before tax.
The first lucky owners will get their cars towards the end of the year, but getting the P1 on the road will prove complicated. It is only being produced as a left-hand drive, so cannot be registered in Hong Kong.
Potential buyers cannot even test-drive the P1, but that has not stopped wealthy enthusiasts from queuing up to get their hands on a limited-edition McLaren that is being touted for its superiority on both the road and the track.
"We just started production this week and we are estimating to finish the last car within the third quarter of 2015," says Marcus Korbach, McLaren Automotive's brand manager for the P1, who attended the Hong Kong preview last week.
"There was already a long list of people interested in the car before it was announced, and we've collected information from our dealers and customers. [Some potential buyers] may also be feeling that they missed out on buying the McLaren F1 20 years ago."
Video: See the McLaren P1
The F1, of which 106 were made in the early 1990s, is widely hailed as the greatest supercar of the 20th century. In 1998, it set a new record for the fastest road car, hitting 391km/h with the rev limiter disabled. One of the last F1s known to have changed hands sold for the equivalent of about HK$45 million, a McLaren official said last year.
The P1's hybrid powertrain comprises a 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8 petrol engine coupled to a single electric motor. The combined power output is 903 brake horsepower and 900 Newton metres of torque. The P1's top speed is limited to 350km/h and the car can shift from a stop to 100km/h in under three seconds, McLaren says.
There are big expectations riding on the P1 as the spiritual successor to the F1, but McLaren executives are reluctant to speculate on whether it will live up to customers' expectations.
"We need to get the customers to confirm that. We've done everything we can to achieve that," Korbach says. "The customers who have signed up for it seem to have the trust in us, and I think we will meet their expectations. Only the future will show how iconic this car will become."
The firm has utilised the considerable expertise of its Formula One team in developing the P1, including Simon Lacey. "He was the aerodynamicist who developed Lewis Hamilton's 2008 championship car which, in terms of aerodynamics, is probably the most advanced there has been and will ever be," Korbach says.
Other features of the P1 that were designed for Formula One cars include the hybrid powertrain system, brake steer and a suspension that stiffens up by 350 per cent in "race mode".
Mirko Bordiga, McLaren Automotive's Asia-Pacific director, says the initial allocation of the P1 in Asia is already sold out, even before the car has been introduced to mainland collectors. The allocation is flexible, he adds, and more cars could be made available in Asia.
Frank Stephenson, the company's design director, says he was influenced by both military design and nature in helping create the P1 alongside aerodynamicists and engineers. He points to the "shrink-wrapped" styling seen throughout the P1.
"The car is basically as minimal as it can be," he says, "almost like the air has been sucked out of it so the surfaces come down as tightly as they can … so it looks like a very hungry cheetah that needs to get out and get on the blocks very fast to get its food." Watch the video at scmp.com/mclaren