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McLaren P1 vs. Porsche 918

McLaren P1

McLaren P1


When one reviews the McLaren P1, one does not simply talk about the sort of things you do with a regular, run-of-the-mill family hatchback or even supercar. The P1 has no boot to speak of, and it's about as practical as an unleaded pencil. Yet, none of that matters.

Why? Because the McLaren P1 is no ordinary car. This is a game changer.

The reason I say this is because it'll drive around town emitting 0 g/km of CO2, yet it'll accelerate faster than any Lamborghini, Porsche, or Ferrari ever produced.

How does it achieve this?

The McLaren P1 is a hybrid. Not like a Toyotas Pruis - think space shuttle hybrid. This is a car so advanced that it wouldn't look out of place 20 years into the future. It is powered by a mid-mounted 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, paired with an electric motor for a combined power output of 903 bhp and 663 lb /ft of torque.

The electric motor produces 193 bhp and 192 lb /ft of torque, which is about the same as a hot hatch. Drivers have the option to use this electric motor for regular driving, and McLaren claims it'll run for 10 kilometres in full E mode. That's impressive when you consider all of the electrics and technology the motor has to power on top of the rear wheels. Fire up the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 with the push of a button, and the petrol engine charges the battery, and works in harmony to produce a frankly dirty power figure - over 900 bhp.

That's a lot of horsepower. To put that into consideration, the Bugatti Veyron SuperSport has 1200 bhp, but it weighs over 800 kg more. Heck, the P1 weighs less than a family estate, at just 1,395 kg. That gives it a considerable power to weight ratio - 644 bhp/tonne, to be exact.

The result of all of this is startling. Here's some numbers - 0 -62 mph in 2.8 seconds, 0 - 120 mph in under 6.5 seconds, 0 - 186 mph in under 17 seconds, a top speed of 217 mph. To put that into context, the McLaren P1 will accelerate faster from 0 - 120 mph than a hot hatch will from 0 - 62.

It boggles the mind.

And then you turn to the technology and the suspension. Power is sent to the rear wheels only, which makes the P1 a true drivers car. This is the first carbon-bodied road car, and there's next to no metal in the body work at all. This car uses materials not found in any other supercar on the planet. Active aerodynamics, a fully adjustable hydro-pneumatic suspension, a fully adjustable rear wing, and lots of other trickeries enable to the P1 to not just demolish a track, but be civilised and comfortable on the open road. Ina recent road test on Top Gear, the Jeremy Clarkson praised the P1'as ride.

In every way, this car is a marvel. It's a triumph of British engineering. It's the fastest hybrid on the planet. It's more economical than a diesel estate yet it's faster than a Lamborghini Aventador, F12 Berlinetta or a Koenigsegg CCX.

Of course, McLaren isn't the only car manufacturer to be working on a hybrid though.

Porsche 918

Porsche 918


Comparing the Porsche 918 and the McLaren P1 side by side, it would be all too easy to hand over your 918 Top Trump to your opponent - the P1 is simply the better car. On paper.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves - Porsche is one of the finest car manufacturers on the planet, and when they announce a supercar, the world listens.

So what's all this 918 malarkey about?

Like the McLaren, the 918 is a hybrid. The Porsche is powered by a 4.8-litre V8 engine that is paired with two electric motors to produce a thumping 795 bhp and 575 lb /ft of torque. That's a lot less than the McLaren, but the Porsche will accelerate from 0 - 62 mph in 2.9 seconds - just one tenth behind the P1.

When you look more into the stats, the P1's dominance becomes clearer. 0 - 120 mph in the 918 happens in 7.9 seconds (versus 6.5 seconds) and 0 - 186 mph in 19.9 seconds (versus under 17 seconds). Throughout the gears, then, the Porsche would lose a car length to the McLaren P1. Across a half mile drag race, the result would be obvious.

But performance is only half the story, really. What is incredible about the 918, like the P1, is its emissions. The 918 will return over 95 miles per gallon with CO2 emissions of just 70 g/km. That's MUCH better than the P1, which has a CO2 rating of 194 g /km and will return only 34 miles per gallon.

Porsche achieved this incredible feat with nothing but smart engineering. The whole power train has been designed from the ground up to be as kind to the environment as possible, whereas the P1 was designed to go as fast as physically possible, whilst not leaving a huge carbon footprint. The difference between these two philosophies is huge, and Porsche will be pleasing EU CO2 setters a whole lot more than McLaren is.

I also think that the 918 is a prettier car than the P1. The McLaren looks more futuristic and purposeful, but the Porsche has the elegance most supercar buyers are going to want.

Price wise, the 918 costs £672,000. The McLaren P1 costs £866,000. With both cars, though, the average price is more than 1 million thanks to optional extras.

So, which is best?

It depends which way you look at it. Without any doubt, the P1 is the faster car, but without any doubt, the 918 is the more economical. The 918 also costs less. In terms of performance engineering, the P1 is a triumph and in terms of economy engineering, the 918 is a triumph.

Both of these cars are competitors. Yet, both are so different. I call this a draw... each car is simply sensational.

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