When Mercedes-AMG celebrates a major anniversary, it doesn’t screw around. At the 2017 International Motor Show in Frankfurt, this performance division of Mercedes-Benz unleashes a spectacular supercar that points the way from AMG’s 50th anniversary toward the future.
Bringing Formula 1 racing technology from the track to the street, the Mercedes-AMG Project One concept is a plug-in hybrid vehicle with torque-vectoring all-wheel drive that generates more than 1,000 horsepower. But we’ll get to the mechanical bits in a moment.
Constructed of carbon fiber, the Project One is a lightweight, 2-seat, mid-engine racing car for public roads. The cockpit is placed forward on the chassis, well ahead of what Mercedes-AMG characterizes as a “wasp-shaped waist” and an elongated rear end.
Flat LED headlights are shaped similar to the LED taillights, and flank an oversized Mercedes emblem on the Project One’s stubby hood. Massive air intakes recall a Toyota Mirai (sorry) and a front splitter automatically extends to increase downforce at speed.
Hood vents direct hot air to the sides of the cockpit, ensuring that the Project One’s jaunty roof-mounted air intake gets plenty of fresh, cool air to feed to the powertrain. The intake becomes a functional fin extending from the rear of the car’s roof, serving to improve lateral stability. Passersby can marvel at the high-tech powertrain through the Project One’s rear window.
Viewed in profile, air inlets forward of the rear wheels deliver cool air to the engine oil and transmission oil coolers. The Project One sits on 10-spoke forged aluminum wheels with center locks and carbon fiber semi-covers that improve aerodynamics. They’re sized 19 inches in front and 20 inches in back, and are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires developed specifically for this vehicle.
Around back, a vertical spoiler with a 2-stage extending airfoil helps to keep the car’s butt planted on the pavement. A 2-section diffuser panel surrounds the oversized, center mounted exhaust outlet. Lots of black mesh trims signals other drivers to take this car seriously.
To enter the Project One, the doors open forward and up, revealing a minimalist interior swathed in carbon fiber.
Employing monocoque construction, the architecture includes two seats integrated with the vehicle’s structure, padded and wrapped in black microfiber suede with Nappa leather and textile mesh detailing. Adjustable pedals ensure that the driver can find a perfect driving position behind the funky Formula 1-style steering wheel.
Occupants face a slim, wing-themed dashboard that serves as a functional structural element. Freestanding 10-inch displays provide access to instrumentation and controls, and a double-nozzle ventilation design serves both driver and passenger, accentuated by vents embedded into the door panels.
Mercedes-AMG says the Project One is equipped with the latest in infotainment systems, air conditioning, power windows, and a camera-based rearview video display. Storage compartments are located up front and behind the seats, and the car even has a tray for storing a smartphone.
Not that you’ll be making calls from this car. You’ll be far too busy keeping it on the road.
Though the Project One is a plug-in hybrid vehicle, there is nothing boring about it. In addition to four electric motors, the drivetrain features a turbocharged 1.6-liter V6 engine lifted straight out of the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 racing car. Midship-mounted, it is capable of spinning to 11,000 rpm.
One of the car’s electric motors is located within the turbocharger, a 90 kW unit driving the compressor turbine up to 100,000 rpm. As a result, turbo lag is eliminated, resulting in speedy throttle response. This electric motor also generates electricity that can be stored in the car’s lithium-ion battery or fed to a 120 kW electric motor located on the engine, linked to the crankcase.
The two remaining motors power each of the front wheels individually, boasting rotor revolutions up to 50,000 rpm and allowing for independent acceleration and braking of each wheel for a selective torque vectoring effect.
Mercedes-AMG employs an 8-speed AMG SpeedShift automated manual gearbox in this concept vehicle, and supplies multiple driving modes ranging from EV to Race Start. The stability control system features On, Sport Handling, and Off settings.
Ceramic brakes with high-performance pads maximize stopping power, and the regenerative braking system can recuperate up to 80 percent of the energy they generate, storing it in the car’s battery. Front and rear multi-link suspension components use adjustable coil-over shocks, and are engineered to eliminate roll during the most rapid of direction changes.
As far as performance is concerned, Mercedes-AMG says the Project One generates more than 1,000 horsepower, accelerates to 112 mph in about six seconds, and can achieve a top speed in excess of 217 mph. When you’re so inclined, its pure electric driving range is about 15 miles.
Though the Mercedes-AMG Project One is a concept vehicle, it “gives specific indications of what to expect from an upcoming production model,” according to the automaker.
No doubt, whatever materializes as a production version will cost quite a bit more than an Acura NSX or BMW i8, currently the only two hybrid supercars on the market. But then, nobody promised that Formula 1 engineering repurposed for the street would be cheap.
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