Automakers have been threatening “F1 technology for the road” for years, maybe decades, now. This week, at the Frankfurt motor show, Mercedes has done it with the Project One hypercar.
Let’s start with the numbers. The Project One gets a midplaced 1.6-liter V6 hybrid, direct-injection turbocharged gasoline motor that revs to 11,000 rpm. It’s built at AMG-Petronas’ spot in Brixworth, England; it has four overhead camshafts and pneumatic valve springs. It runs on “commercially available Super Plus” gasoline. Horsepower? More than 1,000. Top speed? 217 mph. Under six seconds to 124 mph.
The exhaust gas and compressor turbines are separated but connected with a shaft that features a 90-kW electric motor that drives the compressor turbine with up to 100,000 rpm. It uses energy from the lithium-ion battery, eliminates turbo lag, according to Mercedes, and reduces throttle response time.
Two 120-kW electric motors drive the front wheels, allowing individual braking and accelerating as necessary. Mercedes also says up to 80 percent of that braking energy can be scavenged under normal driving conditions.
The hybrid drive system operates at 800 volts, as opposed to 400 in the new Mercedes EQs. That allowed the company to reduce the diameter of the cables, saving space and weight.
Like many hybrids, the Project One will be able to move under just electric power — it has a range of about 15 miles — and if the driver’s foot leaves the gas pedal, it’ll go into a coast mode, as well.
An eight-speed Speedshift automatic will send power to the rear wheels. Remember, the fronts get electric power. The newly developed transmission can be operated in manual mode with paddles, as expected.
Multilink suspensions are used at both the front and rear. Pushrod spring struts have been installed, which replace conventional tubular crossmembers. The Project One will have three stages of electronic stability control: on, sport and off.
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires stick to the road, measuring 19 inches in front, 20 inches in the rear. It has 285/35s in front and 335/30s in back. Ceramic brakes slow everything down.
Two integrated controllers can be used to set adjustment functions such as the driving modes and suspension setup, or the LED shift display in the upper steering wheel area.
Now, on to design.
“The Mercedes-AMG Project ONE is the hottest and coolest car we have ever designed. It combines our design philosophy of Sensual Purity with the performance of our Formula 1 racing cars and is the perfect embodiment of
Performance Luxury,” says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler AG.
“This hypercar’s extreme design marks a milestone in design — there are no lines, and the interior is stripped down to the essentials.”
The Project One is lousy with air intakes on the front, top and sides. Outlets in the hood guide hot air around the body while the automatically extending front splitter keeps the nose on the ground. In back, there’s a vertical spoiler, two-section diffuser and two-stage rear airfoil, all of which keep the rear planted at speed.
Inside, there’s room for two with a F1-inspired rectangle steering wheel (I guess?), bucket seats and a free-floating, wing-like dash. The Project One — resist the urge to call it P1 — gets two 10-inch screens handling infotainment duties. The rearview mirror is replaced with a screen and a camera showing what’s behind.
As we reported earlier this year, it’ll cost about $2.7 million, and require a pricey refresh at about 30,000 miles. Mercedes is building 275 examples, all of which are spoken for.