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Mercedes-AMG builds an F1-inspired road car

Project One hypercar gets 1,000hp plug-in hybrid tech and is due to hit the road by mid-2019.

Is this really for the road?

Welcome to the Mercedes-AMG Project One, a hypercar that has been designed for the road with technologies transferred from F1 racing. It is currently making its world premiere at the Frankfurt motor show.

While a number of hypercars from other brands have already appeared over the years, Project One is said to be unique due to its drivetrain being the same as the one used in the racing machine driven by three times world champion Lewis Hamilton. 

As well, Project One features plug-in hybrid tech to make it useful in real-world driving conditions. The only other notable hypercar to feature such a semi-electric drive is the Porsche 918 Spyder, although Project One has a fixed-top and isn’t a roadster.

The cabin of Project One is strictly for two people, although their belongings can be stored behind the seats for some level of day-to-day practicality. The button-festooned steering wheel is similar to what Hamilton holds and a screen on the fascia takes over the traditional rear-view camera.

Does it get that V6 engine from F1?

Yes it does, according to Mercedes-AMG. The 1.6-litre V6 petrol-turbo engine is placed mid-ship and is coupled to an eight-speed automated manual gearbox. There are four electric motors in Project One: one for the single turbocharger, another for the 680hp internal combustion engine with a link to the crankcase and a pair driving the front wheels.

Mercedes-AMG says the use of an electrically driven turbocharger helps eliminate lag, adding that response is even quicker than in a naturally aspirated V8 motor. Although the Aston Martin Valkyrie has been co-developed with Red Bull Racing, it is powered by a 6.5-litre non-turbo V12 which isn’t affiliated with F1 racing. This is why Mercedes-AMG says Project One is unique.

With Project One using two electric motors on the front axle with each producing 163hp, the hypercar is essentially four-wheel-drive. There’s torque-vectoring control for the front wheels that can enhance acceleration and also regenerate lost energy during braking before being stored in lithium-ion batteries. Mercedes-AMG says Project One can drive in all-electric mode but hasn’t specified a touring range for it. The last Merc supercar to have all-electric drive was the SLS of yore.

Chassis developments for Project One includes centre-lock wheels rimmed with front 285/35 ZR19 and rear 335/30 ZR20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. Within these wheels are carbon-ceramic brakes. Suspension is via multi-link on both the front and rear ends with pushrod-style springs and dampers.

Mercedes-AMG won’t delve into the details of the bodywork or the vehicle’s dry weight, although these official pictures show that aerodynamics definitely hold key to Project One’s performance potential rated at just over 1,000hp when combining all drive units.

How fast is it?

While Mercedes-AMG has dodged the widely used 0-100kph acceleration time, it suggests that Project One can hit 200kph from standstill in six seconds scant with top speed of over 350kph.

As some kind of reference, the LaFerrari goes from 0-100kph in 2.4sec and 0-200kph within 7sec before calling it the day at a similar 350kph. Ferrari’s hypercar comes with 6.3-litre V12 and hybrid (with no plug-in system) producing a combined 963hp.

Mercedes-AMG says Project One will hit the road before mid-2019 and all 275 units have already been called for. If imported to Thai shores, Project One would cost nearly 300 million baht inclusive of tax. 

While Project One is out of reach for most people, Mercedes-AMG says it will be used as a testbed for developing new high-performance cars with electrification under the EQ Power+ banner.

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