I recently drove a McLaren P1, which is McLaren’s exotic supercar that was made in small numbers from 2013 to 2015 and intended to compete with the Porsche 918 Spyder and LaFerrari. The P1 is the rarest of those three — and it’s also the ultimate modern McLaren.
Yes, I know saying that is a pretty big deal, what with the arrival of the new McLaren Senna — but the P1 is even more ultimate than the Senna. While the Senna is a pretty crazy car, the P1 has a twin-turbocharged V8 that makes 727 horsepower, coupled with an electric motor that makes an extra 177 hp, totaling more than 900 horses. It’ll do 0-to-60 mph in 2.7 seconds, and it’ll hit a top speed of 217 mph. It’s really something.
And, indeed, it’s more exciting than even the numbers suggest. I’ve now driven each of the “Holy Trinity” exotic cars, meaning I’ve driven the P1, the Porsche 918 Spyder and the LaFerrari — and while I think they all offer their own distinct benefits, I have to say that I think the P1 was the most exciting of the bunch. It was the liveliest, the craziest — the car makes you really feel like you can swing the tail out and totally go nuts. It doesn’t feel faster than the other two, to be sure, but it feels more ridiculous. By comparison, for instance, the 918 delivers speed in a much more buttoned up, rational manner. It’s still an amazing car, of course, and better than the P1 at a lot of things — but the P1 just feels livelier, more thrilling, riskier.
And, indeed, the P1 has a lot of attributes that make it that way. I absolutely love the appearance, though I’m sensitive to the fact that it ends up being a bit too much like some other McLaren models, especially ones that came later — almost as if McLaren was trying to ride the P1’s coattails. Still, nothing has the P1’s amazing brake light design, and the overall look is certainly more daring than what you’d get in, say, the 720S. But not by that much.
With that said, the performance certainly is. Mashing the throttle unleashes a truly amazing symphony of insanity, with an amazing sound matched only by amazing acceleration that comes on raucously quickly — it really is as fast as everyone says. The steering is also incredibly precise, just as much as you’d want from an exotic car like this one, with inputs being immediately transmitted to the front wheels, to the point where you don’t even think about turning the wheel before you’re ready, because the car will go where you point it, and fast.
The P1 also offers a lot of technological advancement, and a lot of quirks and features, but I’ll leave all that for the video. What I’ll say here is that I think a great argument could be made that the P1 is the best of the “Holy Trinity” — the most exciting, almost surely, but also the overall best given its liveliness and thrilling nature. Personally, I like the 918 Spyder and its relatively docile supercar-ness — but if you’re looking for a car like this, you’re probably looking for the ultimate kick in the teeth, and the P1 is precisely that. It’s amazing, and it’s worth every bit of $2 million, when compared with other vehicles in this realm. Find a McLaren P1 for sale