By on September 28, 2012


As amazing as the specs may be, I’m not sold on the design of the McLaren P1. It may be functional, but it can’t stand up to the elegant minimalism of the F1 and looks far too busy. Let us know what you think.





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33 Comments on “McLaren P1 – Thumbs Up Or Down?: Paris 2012 Live Shots...”

  • avatar

    down. was going to list reasons, but just down.

    • 0 avatar

      Overstyled, and what’s worse, mostly irrelevant.

      It will make a good poster for teenage boys to hang in their room, though.

      • 0 avatar

        So true. I appreciate that it exists, but it’s not something that I would desire. Pretty much sums up my opinion of McLaren and most supercar brands — cool, but, eh?

        Give me an SM instead, any day of the week ;)

  • avatar

    I can’t completely disagree with the comment about it being overly busy but I have a feeling it will be justified by the functionality. With McLaren’s history of no-holds barred for the sake of performance, the P1 should be an awesome vehicle.

    On looks alone though, I do prefer the F1.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I don’t know why the photographer decided to have such a shallow depth of field on the first photo…it makes it appear like it is a model-scale vehicle.

  • avatar

    I am sure parts of it are functional, but most of it is overstyled fluff.

  • avatar

    I don’t know. I keep hearing about the “functional minimalism” of the F1, then I look at a car with gonzo three-across seating, scissor-doors, a built-in tool kit, bisecting strakes on its flanks and a a curvy coke bottle shape that turned out to be too unstable at speeds (until they released the GT version with the longer tail) and think… really?

    Now the Ferrari F40 was minimalist design. Body starkly functional. Door-pull straps. Rear engine cover mesh that looks like it came off a chicken coop… with the badge soldered on it.

    The McLaren, on the other hand, was swoopy and curvy and covered in interesting lines. Astonishingly low curb weight aside, there is nothing minimal about the F1… except perhaps the amount of care… or lack of it… that went into selecting headlights and tail-lights from some discount store parts bin… just like many other low-volume super cars of the time.

    There is a whole lot of F1 in the P1 design. Setting aside for the moment the admittedly gimmicky McLaren-logo headlights, the shapes are similar, the haunches are similar, the detailing on the flanks is VERY similar, and the only major body contour off is the greenhouse, which McLaren admitted to shortening simply to give it more dynamic tension.

    Give it more traditional headlights and tail-lights (which you don’t need to… LEDs don’t HAVE to be in round housings), and it will look exactly like a more modern F1.

    I’m not saying it’s perfect. Those McLaren-swash headlights have to go, and they could work out something better for the front bumper, but it’s just not as bad as many people make it out to be.

    • 0 avatar

      The F40 was a 308 GTB with a side order of rice.

    • 0 avatar

      I have to disagree with your assessment of the F1 – The extent to which they went to create both a livable but minimal vehicle was extraordinary. No power steering , no power brakes – hell they didn’t even want a radio. Perhaps it had aerodynamic flaws (first I heard) but it was not a busy design – it was – and is – beautiful and purposeful.

  • avatar

    Meh, even with all that’s going on, it feels like a generic supercar. I’m sure it’s great, but there’s no magic.

    It might also have something to do with that color. I can’t stand that burnt orange metalic look.

  • avatar

    I think from most angles it works well, particularly for the target market. It would be more palatable in a darker color or in naked carbon, that would ameliorate some of the more flamboyant curves.

    The rear view and spoiler, on the other hand, screams Keaton-era Batmobile and begs for some hard edges.

  • avatar

    There’s no “there” there.

  • avatar

    I agree, it looks far to busy; like a hot wheels…

  • avatar

    Up. I like it. And the more I look at the pics the more it grows on me. Not the most beautiful car ever but I like it a lot. I’m trying to think of other supercars to compare it too… Pagani, Enzo, next Enzo, Aventador, F12, 599 GTO, SLS, 458, Porsche 918, R8, etc. and in my eye this is better looking that most or all of them. Mac will have no problem selling all of them.

  • avatar

    Love it. Everyone who doesn’t like it, please send me $1. I’ll save up to buy one :)

  • avatar

    My only gripe with the design is that its simultaneously generic and overwrought. I mean to be fair, the F1 kind of was too, but it was still instantly recognizable and an absolute monster of a technical achievement.

    My gripe with the overall car is more serious. McLaren just doesn’t seem to get that what makes a good race car != what makes a good supercar. There’s nothing wrong with efficiency, balls to the walls performance and easiness to drive… as long as they are all second fiddle to design, engagement and the sense of occasion. Who wants a supercar that is cold + calculating? That is why they had to go back to the drawing board on the MP4-12C… and I get the feeling they will have a similar, even more embarrassing moment with the P1.

    I think one could argue that the supercar itself is dead, for a few reasons.

    – the gulf in performance between “entry level” exotics and flagship supercars is non-existent. The diff between a 308 and F40 was like crawling or strapping yourself to a rocket. Now a 458 street car is faster than an Enzo. And I bet the MP4 will not be appreciably slower than the P1, despite the P1’s horsepower & lap time tech.

    – inconceivable performance has become cheap and accessible. An Aventador runs 9s stock, I think. Impressive, till you see folks building 9 second Eclipses and EVOs for 1/10th the price. Now is an Eclipse a Lambo? Of course not. But how much would it suck to get roped into a street race by a POS Mitsubishi (or crotch rocket) and be unable to walk away w/a clean victory?

    – cars are not as relevant to young people today. Cars are simultaneously cheaper (compared to what a $ got car wise even just 10 years ago) and expensive (due to the used car market spiking and the economy being complete SHITE) for young folks. All jokes aside I would imagine more kids having Apple posters on their walls than any cars… those are status symbols more relevant to this generation

    I think Gordon Murray was wise to go the complete opposite direction in his T.25… as much as folks dread a future without 300 MPH V16 supercars they will never own/drive, the reality is smaller, honest, “every man” cars are where real $$$ is.

    • 0 avatar


      You make three very good points about super-cars from a Western perspective. However, fabulously rich Middle Easterners don’t buy a Koenigsegg Agera (to pick on just one example) just because it can go 270+ MPH (theoretically); they get such a vehicle because of:
      1) cachet;
      2) elegance in design;
      3) novelty;
      4) rarity;
      5) quality of materials;
      6) craftsmanship;
      7) personal treatment/customization by the manufacturer;
      8) high performance in several areas, for bragging rights;
      9) having the money,– with a wide margin and no financing needed;
      10) impressing the “neighbors”/relatives with your success.

      I am sure there are others. You see, one does not greatly drive a super-car: one wears a super-car, like jewelry. And that may explain why you can find a 17-year old Ferrari F355 with only 30K miles on it.

      So, is the super-car really dead? Not among the emerging wealthy around the world. How else can you account for the F12 Berlinetta already being sold out when it hasn’t even been produced? In fact, you could say that starting a super-car factory (and doing it right), may be one of the best business operations you could get into. Look at recent start-up Horatio Pagani, with both the Zonda and now the Huayra. Wouldn’t GM or Ford like to be able to say, “Gee, sorry, we’re all sold out!?” (^_^).


  • avatar

    Am I the only one here that never thought the F1 was particularly attractive? It had the mid-engined supercar proportions that win the hearts of car guys, but it really was just an overly generic, purely functional piece of 90’s styling otherwise.

  • avatar


    There are elements that don’t appeal to me, but overall it hits a balance between function and lunacy that works for me.

    The headlights have to go, of course, and that change would hopefully tighten up the front end a little, but the overall profile still evokes the F1 in a good way.

    I will readily admit that I’m a weirdo… I can’t stand how the Enzo looks, and whilst I think the 458 is a very handsome car, I don’t have the same jaw-dropped slobbering lust after its looks that many others have.

    On the other hand, I love everything about the looks of the F1 sans its lights, I dig the MP4-12C for its understated character, and despite its flaws, I love the look of the new P1.

    I suspect they’ll have issues actually selling very many, much as they did with the F1. Economic conditions will play a part, and it’ll have to have some party piece besides lap times to attract the newly-ultra-rich in the emerging world who buy most of the truly ludicrous hypercars these days.

    The Veyron has its speed+acceleration, its outlandish looks, and its insane interior. The replacement for the Enzo will have a Ferrari badge and a line of previous owners (mostly F40 and Enzo owners, I’d wager) waiting in line to buy them.

    No matter how gorgeous, no matter how fast, now matter how GOOD of a car the McLaren is, I doubt it’ll ever be truly popular. It likely will, however, be recorded in the annals of Car Guy History as one of the ultimate peaks of the art of carbuilding, much like the F1 is. No amount of praise or technical brilliance had people lining up around the corner to buy the F1, though.

  • avatar

    I think the Mac is really interesting. I love that it’s small and I think the overall proportions are great. I assume all the aero-stuff is wind-tunnel developed by people who know best, and I think it looks solidly good.

    But the Peugeot Onyx clearly stole the show.

  • avatar

    Way up.

    I had to look at it a few times, over a few days, and take in the details. And the more I look, the more I find to like. I’ve also seen some simple PhotoShops that remove the two-tone theme and it makes a terrific improvement.

    Thematically, for me, it looks like a streetable LMP car – the tapered cockpit, the splitters under the front facia and behind the front wheels, and the very low tail (as very opposed to the very high “butts” on more pedestrian automobiles). Pininfarina seems to incorporate lines that pay homage to racers, but look over-styled or go off in weird directions. This, while busy, looks more purposeful (again, the two-tone is not helping my case).

    About the only criticism that I could come up with, even after reading everyone else’s reactions, are that it looks very “now”. Will it age as well as the F1 or F40? Maybe not, but those are two very special examples in a world of F50’s and (*verp) Enzo’s.

  • avatar

    I like the paint job, but hate everything else.

  • avatar

    I’ve looked, and looked, and looked….
    And tried, and tried, and tried…
    You know, sometimes you just have to “work with it” a bit to convince yourself that something new and revolutionary is “beautiful”. I wasn’t initially enamored with the F12 Berlinetta either, but it began to grow on me, and now fascinates…

    Well, this car just isn’t working for me. Yes, I appreciate its low drag and advanced aerodynamic properties, and all that…but – – –
    1) The butt is, well, butt-ugly, and overly complex;
    2) The face is squinty-eyed, untrustworthy, and sleazy;
    3) The top slope to the back is droopy and tired;
    4) The side panels behind the front wheels are disjointed and pointless.

    So, close but no cigar. Can’t imagine such a thing in my driveway. Guess I’ll just have to resign myself to a Koenigsegg Agera, and be done with it. Some hardship in life is good for building character….


  • avatar

    The thing about cars like this is that they can be ass-ugly and someone will still buy them, so long as they are priced far enough away from the plebeian crowd. And this one doesn’t actually look bad in my opinion.

    Still, the proportions and styling are “Car Town” goofy…

  • avatar

    ick – now back to discussing the Gordon Keeble

  • avatar

    It’s no F1, but overall UP, save for the generic rims (already covered in baked on brake dust) and burnt orange colour that should’ve died with Caliber and HHR. Hey, at least it’s not silver (so sick of it!)!

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