While it looks like a student entry in a computer graphics class, this image from McLaren is the first official hint of its upcoming P12 supercar, due to appear at the Paris Motor Show next month. If you think the world doesn't need another $1 million-plus toy racer, you're right. But McLaren needs one.
The revival of McLaren road cars with the MP4-12C has been well received, but not well enough for McLaren's famously demanding tastes. The original McLaren F1 has aged into one of the great supercars of the 20th century, and the British maker would prefer not to leave conversations about the most extreme machines of this century exclusively to Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche.
While McLaren has been coy about it plans, there's enough leaking around the edges to sense what's coming. Based off the MP4-12C chassis, the P12 is expected to offer a significant power upgrade of the 3.8-liter V-8 that now makes 616 hp -- possibly combined with a KERS-like hybrid system to give owners the same feeling Lewis Hamilton gets from punching his steering wheel buttons. While the ghostly curves above almost hint at a 1+2 seating arrangement like the original F1, McLaren execs have said it wasn't practicable to recreate that look. And the P12 will be designer Frank Stephenson's first shot at placing his own mark on McLaren; he arrived at the company too late to have much influence on the MP4-12C, and the X-1 shown at Pebble Beach was someone else's dream.
We'll see more in a couple of weeks, but between the upcoming Ferrari and Porsche hybrid supercars, the world's demand for machines that cross 200 mph will soon be tested by supply.