PH Spies McLaren Supercar On Test

Even supercars have to get petrol...
Even supercars have to get petrol...
Sharp-eyed PHer Ted Datson took these snaps after he spotted these two McLaren P11 prototypes filling up during a hard day’s development testing near Cranleigh in Surrey.

We reckon it’s the best chance yet to get a proper view of the Ferrari F430 and Lamborghini Gallardo-chasing supercar that’s due on sale in 2011.

The petrol station background really helps to put the size of the P11 into context, highlighting its compact dimensions and emphasising its ‘junior’ supercar credentials.

The heavy disguise still doesn’t reveal much about the P11’s looks other than its traditional mid-engined proportions, however.


The rear shot does seem to show a bit more info, though. The car on the left appears to have raised rear spoiler that’s absent from the car on the right. Is that evidence that the P11 will have a retractable rear spoiler a la Audi R8, or does it suggest two model variants are being worked on? Of course, it could also just be that the boys from Woking are still experimenting with the aero package.

The rear of the P11 also displays a hint of Pagani Zonda, but we suspect that’s more the boxy disguise and trailer-spec rear lights giving that impression than anything else.

The P11 is expected to be powered by a Mercedes V8 tweaked by Mahle Powertrain in the UK, and prices could start from less than £100k.

 

Comments (140) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Baddie 29 Jul 2009

    flemke said:
    One of the things that made the F1 exceptional was that it was designed and developed with only a relatively small amount of institutional knowledge about road cars. Overwhelmingly, the institutional knowledge was about racing cars. This begat some distinct shortcomings, although it also enabled the designers to start with a truly "clean" sheet of paper and few preconceptions, and the result was a unique motorcar. It was outstanding competitively, although it was not a commercial success.
    Since the SLR, McLaren are no longer in that previous position. They seem to be trying to do a "better" (however one measures that) version of the established paradigm of 430, Gallardo, R8 etc. Nothing seriously new and different.
    On that basis, they would indeed need to produce something that was somehow better at Ferrari's game than Ferrari are. As you say, that will be tough. We saw that with the SLR, which would barely have made sense at half the price, which is what a 599 cost.
    If, however, McLaren were to focus not on making a better 430, but on offering a conceptual alternative to the 430/Gallardo idea, they might have something that was more competitive.
    In the light of subsequent events I didn't think F1 was a commercial failure. It seems Mercedes "bought out" the BMW engine contract to the tune of the projected profit margin on each production F1 for the expected 300-car run. The value of the F1 has also increased far in excess of contemporary rivals. And compared to the Bugatti for example was it not cheap to develop because of the small focused design team? G Murray tells of 600 engineering clashes on the Bug, and one small one on the F1.

    I agree on the problem McLaren face on trying to better the F430/Gallardo with the approach they've taken. Of course they can better these cars, but by a significant margin for it to be remotely interesting??? I do wish McLaren luck in trying to topple their rivals. In spite of my previous posts I am not a fan of the way Ferrari and, to a lesser extent, Lamborghini are now approaching the challenge of selling cars. But I had hoped McLaren would have continued to pursue a different line of engineering, and would now be planning a 3-4 litre car with the performance to beat the 5-6 litre class while showing us a new racing-influenced approach to packaging/suspension/construction. The new Mac may well be made of carbon-fibre, but it will mean nothing if it weighs more than a Boxster.

    Edited by Baddie on Wednesday 29th July 04:57

  • 35secToNuvolari 29 Jul 2009

    If I'm not mistaken, Mclaren are going to explore the market below the cheapest Ferrari. They could try to do a more mass-market product while also doing a reserve-label product. A similar strategy helped Porsche (boxster/911) be financially viable. Maybe Mclaren are taking that strategy but at a higher price-point in the market, allowing them to have a financially successful product, while maintaining its reputation for pushing the boundaries of automotive concepts with other models. There's no way to avoid diluting the brand if they want to make money selling cars. The best they can do to simultaneously produce something spectacular as an apology.

    They almost have to disregard the good-will the brand generates from the F1. The intent with which it was built made it seem like more of an art project than a production car. They could continue the 'small-batch' strategy, but it'd be rough going. Rather than preserve the image, though, I think the potential benefit to the auto world is enough to justify the attempt to make it as a manufacturer.

    They've identified efficiency, safety, and emissions as areas of focus, if I recall correctly. If they manage to put up some gaudy, mind-numbing numbers in those areas, as the F1 did in meeting its targets, then they have a chance of having the best-of-both worlds, making money/retaining their image.

    Edited by 35secToNuvolari on Wednesday 29th July 00:44

  • Rich_W 29 Jul 2009

    flemke said:
    Since the SLR, McLaren are no longer in that previous position. They seem to be trying to do a "better" (however one measures that) version of the established paradigm of 430, Gallardo, R8 etc. Nothing seriously new and different.
    On that basis, they would indeed need to produce something that was somehow better at Ferrari's game than Ferrari are. As you say, that will be tough. We saw that with the SLR, which would barely have made sense at half the price, which is what a 599 cost.
    If, however, McLaren were to focus not on making a better 430, but on offering a conceptual alternative to the 430/Gallardo idea, they might have something that was more competitive.
    I agree completely. I even wonder if McLaren would prefer to do something more alternative, but with the financials the way they are, and the fact they seem to want to build the brand up quickly has made the choose this "competative" route.

    Edited by Rich_W on Tuesday 28th July 22:05

  • jimmyb 28 Jul 2009

    The slr was a joke quite frankly. Basically an sl on steroids. Never quite got that piece of rubbish. So far removed from what i believed the maclaren philosophies are. It was hugely heavy and cumbersome. If you watched it on the tg track doing its lap it was wallowing all over the show. It was simply a luxury merc with a maclaren badge stuck on to justify its stupid cost.

  • flemke 28 Jul 2009

    Rich_W said:
    Not really.

    But because Ferrari's new car will be very very good. And inevitably McLaren have been developing their car for some time against Ferrari (and no doubt Lambo/Audi and Porsches) efforts. 125BHP per litre is not to be sniffed at IMHO
    This gets into an interesting area.
    Should McLaren be worried for commercial reasons, or for, shall we say, "competitive" reasons?
    One of the things that made the F1 exceptional was that it was designed and developed with only a relatively small amount of institutional knowledge about road cars. Overwhelmingly, the institutional knowledge was about racing cars. This begat some distinct shortcomings, although it also enabled the designers to start with a truly "clean" sheet of paper and few preconceptions, and the result was a unique motorcar. It was outstanding competitively, although it was not a commercial success.
    Since the SLR, McLaren are no longer in that previous position. They seem to be trying to do a "better" (however one measures that) version of the established paradigm of 430, Gallardo, R8 etc. Nothing seriously new and different.
    On that basis, they would indeed need to produce something that was somehow better at Ferrari's game than Ferrari are. As you say, that will be tough. We saw that with the SLR, which would barely have made sense at half the price, which is what a 599 cost.
    If, however, McLaren were to focus not on making a better 430, but on offering a conceptual alternative to the 430/Gallardo idea, they might have something that was more competitive.

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