Ahead of its world debut at the IAA Frankfurt, which I didn’t attend, Mercedes-Benz showed us his next crazy supercar. It was pretty cool because you could literally follow the reveal on social media, which shows the brand is keeping up with trends and is not a step behind in terms of comunication. Much was rumored about the car, since the private showings at the Geneva Motor Show, earlier this year, and everywhere else in the world. The Mercedes-AMG Project One entered the scene, with Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel.
The presence of the Formula One champion is not a mere coincidence or a PR stunt. The car is marketed as being as close as a road-legal Formula One as you can legally be. LH44 even took part in developping it (but then again, so did every Scuderia Ferrari race driver to the “supercar” of his era). It is not unprecedented for production cars in the luxury department (mainly Ferrari) to borrow tech from F1 in their road-legal variants. And this is how things move forward. But apparently this time, Mercedes-Benz went beyond that. Where Ferrari offers its clients pure “racing” experiences with the XX program or Ferrari Challenge, or McLaren with their track-cars (P1 GTR), it really feels like the germans are about to offer the exact same thing, but for the road. Straight away. No need to go to Lazante to make it road-legal.
Bear in mind, I’m not saying the likes of LaFerrari, McLaren F1, Porsche 918, F12 TDF and whatnot are child’s play. But the Mercedes-AMG Project One is clearly branded as a Formula One car, for the road. It is the result of a partnership from different parts of Mercedes, including the guys from Affalterbach (AMG) and, obviously, the F1 team. From the sitting position, as close as you get to an F1, almost lying down, to its astronomical price: more than 2,5 million euros. In the supercar / hypercar world, we’re used to seeing such figures, to be honest, so I can’t say I’m fully impressed. But it’s always a bold move, and it confirms a trend: those hypercars are only getting more expensive with each new model.
Design-wise, I wasn’t entirely sold at first glance. But then again, I rarely fall for love at first sight. My mind keeps looking for patterns and existing things everywhere, which is why I can’t help myself but see some heavy inspirations in the Mercedes-AMG Project One. The most striking ressemblance comes from the front angle: can anyone say Porsche 918? Seriously, is it just me? A bit disappointed at the look of the head-lights, which don’t feel as agressive as the car itself. The main detail that is monopolizing everyone’s attention though, seems to be the fin. You can’t get more badass than a car fin, pure race car stuff. Pure LMP1 and F1 tech, right there.
As far as numbers and performance goes, the car will have a 1,6L V6 turbo engine, the fruit of a collaboration with Formula One. This fragile engine (its lifespan is rumoured to be about 30000 miles, which leaves a lot of open questions about “who will drive it”) delivers 680 bhp at about 10000 rpms, and when coupled to the four electric engines, will give you about 1050 bhp. 2,5 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h, with a top speed of 350 km/h. Obviously, not many people will actually use that, if you want my opinion. Just like with the Veyron, Chiron, or any other car with such performance numbers.
With only 300 units to be build, all of which have already been sold, the car will be pretty exclusive. YET, it’s not as exclusive as the patriarch, the CLK GTR. Following on the steps of the latter, which is, to this day, considered as a unicorn among all cars, the Project One has a lot to live up to. Different times, different markets. But I’m fairly certain it will. I’m quite confident about that, actually. In a world where form and function go hand in hand, every detail and aspect of this incredible car screams out “YES, the Mercedes-AMG Project One is as crazy as it looks”.