Saying "we can’t reveal our sources, for obvious reasons," U.K. publication CAR
yesterday released what it claims are accurate pictures of an early clay model of McLaren's next supercar, the P11. The new vehicle is purported to continue the tradition of the legendary F1 (fastest production car from 1994 to 2005, according to Wikipedia
), but ring in at a much saner price point, competing with the likes of Ferrari's F430 and Lamborghini's Gallardo.
CAR "Photoshop experts" vouch for the authenticity of the photos, saying they are genuine and undoctored. They did alter the photos slightly, removing the background to ensure their source's anonymity, and they added a CAR watermark so that Web thieves can't claim the photos as their own handiwork.
CAR claim that the new vehicle is "at least 18 months away from production," adding that McLaren's current involvement in producing the final run of Mercedes SLRs has their factory quite occupied. The SLR production run is said to end sometime in 2009.
They claim a price of betwen £150,000 and £170,000, but add that a prospective P11 customer hinted the price might "soar above £200."
In terms of powerplants, decisions are still being made. With Mercedes possessing shares of McLaren, and given the two companies' close ties and current project together, CAR feel that the AMG 6.2-liter V8 tops the list of possibilities, and one source claims it might be a turbocharged version of that engine.
Carbon fiber construction and ceramic brakes are two of the rumored high-tech, advanced materials that will likely find their way into P11 construction, ensuring the light weight that will make for stellar handling, blistering acceleration, and mind-bending braking. CAR predict sub-4-second 0-60 mph sprint and a 200-plus-mph top speed.
Of the code name, P11, CAR explain that the P8 (GT sports car), P9 (another supercar), and P10 (SLR successor) were abandoned, leaving P11 as the next logical name for the project.
With impressive, sanely priced vehicles like Chevy's Corvette ZR1
nipping at the heels of the performance figures rumored above (in a straight line, anyway), McLaren had better do its R&D with gusto, and then go back and double-check for any chinks in this supercar's performance creds.--Colin Mathews
CAR McLaren P11 Spy Shot 2