Frankfurt - Mercedes-AMG swept the covers off its highly-anticipated Project One hypercar on the eve of the Frankfurt Motor Show on Monday night and its accompanying brag sheet is, as we expected, just dripping with superlatives.
Conceived to offer the closest possible thing to an F1 car for the road, the two-seat hypercar is powered by a rather hyper plug-in hybrid system that mates a rear mid-mounted F1-derived 1.6-litre V6 turbo engine, which revs to an astounding 11 000rpm, to four electric motors for a total system output of “over” 740kW.
Forget zero to 100, the Project One, according to its maker, gets from 0-200km/h in under six seconds and reaches a top speed in excess of 350km/h. It was developed in close cooperation with Mercedes-AMG’s Formula One engineers, and in the interests of longevity the petrol engine’s rev limit was “reduced” to 11 000rpm, which still by far knocks the socks off every other road car.
It boasts four gear-driven overhead camshafts and pneumatic valve springs, and the F1-style electrically-assisted turbocharger is split into two separate components - the exhaust gas turbine mounted on the exhaust manifold and the compressor on the intake side.
The two are connected by the shaft of a 90kW electric motor, so when you put your foot down there is no turbo lag - the electric motor spins the turbo up to 100 000rpm almost instantly.
There’s also no wastegate; when the engine is revving hard and the turbo is producting more boost than the engine can handle, the turboshaft motor becomes a generator, using regenerative braking to hold the boost at optimum and feeding the resulting amps either into the car’s lithium-ion battery or directly to a 120kW electric motor mounted on the engine and geared to the crankshaft.
That drives the rear wheels via an eight-speed hydraulically-activated Speedshift manual that was developed specially for this car, and which can be operated manually via shift paddles or put into automatic mode.
The front axle has two 120kW electic motors, each capapble of revving to 50 000rpm, one connectedv to each front wheel by a reductin gear - which means that the front wheels can be accelerated or regeneratively braked independently for optimum torque vectoring.
And when you lift you foot off the loud pedal, or touch the brake pedal, up to 80 percent of that torque can be recovered and and fed back in to the 800 volt battery in the floor of the foootwell, behind the rear axle.
That’ll give you a quoted range of up to 25km/h on electric power alone - just to keep the greenies happy - pulling away using the front-wheel motors only, with the third motor on the engine in reserve for extra acceleration if needed.
Housing all this technological wizardry is a lightweight, high-strength carbon-fibre monocoque and keeping it all under control is an adjustable pushrod suspension. It rolls on 10-spoked forged alloy wheels shod with 285/35 ZR19 front and 335/30 ZR20 rear Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, over carbon ceramic brakes.
The doors open upwards and forwards, and the sculptured bucket seats with adjustable backrests are integrated into the monocoque; the pedals and steering wheel are adjustable. The seats are upholstered in black microfibre with yellow contrast stitching, inset with grey nappa leather and textile mesh for cool air circulation.
There are two high-resolution, free-standing 30cm displays (one slightly raised in front of the driver, the other on the right of the centre console angled towards the driver) and a stowage compartment with a transparent lid.
A rearview screen in the roof replaces the conventional mirror, and the steering wheel, flattened at top and bottom, has two integrated controllers for the driving modes and suspension setup. Aircon and power windows are standard, as is Mercedes-Benz’ Comand infotainment system.
Technically this is still a concept car, but Mercedes-AMG says it gives “specific indications” of what to expect from the upcoming production model. That, of course, will be built in limited numbers and rumour has it that all of them are already sold out. Sorry.