The Canadian International Auto Show has seen its fair share of epic automobiles over the years. The Lamborghini Diablo SV still stands out as my fond first memory of the show, and I’ve returned every year since then to see the likes of the Aston Martin One-77, Bugatti Veyron and Porsche Carerra GT. However, this year something very special was on display — the McLaren P1.
Hyperbolic as it may sound, the P1 marks a genuinely new era for the automobile. This is an era in which the world’s most exotic cars have been forced to take some time off from beating the laws of physics into submission to become best buddies with the polar bears. To achieve this ambition, McLaren has produced a flagship supercar using a hybrid powertrain, which may sound like sacrilege at first. The results, however, should make you think twice. The P1 uses a 3.8L twin-turbo V8 mated to an electric motor, both sending power to the rear axle. This combo allows the car to achieve 34 miles per gallon (8.3L/100 km) while outputting a mind-boggling 916 horsepower. That power will get you from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds. For once, you can have your cake and eat it too.
It’s a lot more complex than just the powertrain however. McLaren have also put a lot of effort into the aerodynamics of the P1, making it a stunning machine to behold. Every curve, duct, and winglet has been carefully crafted to reduce drag in normal driving, but also produce monstrous amounts of downforce when you start to thrash it. In fact, the P1 generates 600 kilograms of downforce at 257 km/h. It took a lot of unconventional styling to achieve this, but in-person, this car is simply beautiful.
Porsche’s answer to this car, the 918 Spyder, is set to be every bit as insane. The 918 uses two electric motors (one per axle) and a 4.6L V8 to produce 887 horsepower, all while promising fuel consumption of 78 miles per gallon (3.3 L/100 km). As a result, the 918 puts some of the most fuel efficient cars on the market to shame while still offering earth-shattering performance — 0 to 100 km/h is dealt with in just 2.6 seconds. Yes, that makes it faster than the P1, though perhaps it’s a little less attractive.
I have to admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of hybrid cars. But with McLaren and Porsche playing the hybrid card so well, I’ll have to reconsider. If the future is 78 mpg and zero to the speed limit in under 3 seconds, then please, by all means, bring it on.
918 Spyder Photo Credit: Porsche | All other images Copyright © 2014 Igor Magun/The Blog of Cars