Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Mercedes-AMG Project One hypercar unveiled at Frankfurt

Truly a race car for the road, the Mercedes-AMG Project One rewrites the the hypercar rulebook

Advertisement

Huge crowds congregated at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show to witness the unveiling of the Mercedes-AMG Project One hypercar. The Project One doesn’t benefit from a filter down of Formula inspired technology because in essence, it actually is a Formula One car reconfigured for the road.

The nitty gritty reveals a specification that is amazingly similar to Lewis Hamilton’s regular pole sitting F1 car, but our first opportunity to lay eyes on the car in Frankfurt revealed something that is visually far more in line with current hypercar trends. Mercedes-AMG has favoured a design that’s less radical than that of the Project One’s arch rival, the Aston Martin Valkyrie.

 > Click here for our favourite cars from the 2017 Frankfurt motor show

The Project One makes no secret of its Formula One roots. The roof mounted intake is lifted directly from the F1 car to satisfy the engine’s appetite for oxygen. Flanking the three-pointed star at the tip of the nose are the tri-LED headlights, as well as the intakes recessed into the front valance below, a characteristic of other AMG models. Over the front wheels are three mechanised slats that sit flush with the front wings and can open up to divert air out of the front arches to relieve pressure, much like on a Porsche 911 GT3 RS.

The rear end design also follows the hypercar rule book, typically open to dissipate heat as quickly as possible. Unlike the Valkyrie that employs a tall wing over the rear-end, the Project One has an active device that extends out as well as up for a greater surface area and thus greater downforce.

Drivetrain

Where the Project One departs from the trodden hypercar path is clearly the drivetrain. ‘Formula 1 for the road’; it could be all too easy to manipulate this statement and take advantage of its ambiguity from a marketing perspective. To avoid this grey area Mercedes has been very clear about the 2.3m Euro, 1000bhp+ Project One due in 2019: it doesn’t rehash ideas from F1, isn’t F1 inspired and certainly shouldn’t be labelled as an F1 transfer. And for one obvious reason – it is F1. Concealed by the bulkhead behind the seats rests the EQ Power+ powertrain that has steamrolled the F1 championship for the past three years. Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers puts it like this: ‘We are the first to make Formula 1 technology road worthy.’

As you might expect, all-wheel drive plays a part, delivered and intelligently vectored by an electric motor in each front wheel. But let’s start with the game changer at the back. As with the current Mercedes F1 car, the rear wheels are driven by a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol V6 with direct injection and, for the sake of longevity, an 11,000rpm red line - dialled down from the 13,500rpm Lewis has to play with but still vaguely nuts compared with anything even the driver of the most hyperactive hypercar is used to.

> Read about the Aston Martin-Red Bull 001 hypercar

A strategically tamed WO8 motor, then? Not exactly. AMG calls it a ‘bespoke unit’ that marries elements from WO6, WO7 and WO8. The engineering is exactly the same, though. Air is fed into the engine by a combined mechanical and electrically-driven turbocharging system with the exhaust turbine located near the exhaust and the compressor near the roof-mounted air intake. They’re joined by a long shaft to which is connected an 80 kW electric motor. This primes the turbocharger to eliminate lag and, according to AMG, gift the V6 faster responses than a naturally-aspirated V8. The electric motor also recovers waste exhaust energy which can then be used to replenish the hybrid battery block or directly drive the MGUK.

MGUK? It stands for Motor Generator Unit Kinetic, another electric motor positioned on the side of the crankcase and directly connected to the crankshaft. It can either drive the crankshaft, adding 120 kW to the power tally, or be driven by it. AMG claims that the combined petrol-electric elements working as a complete unit achieve an unprecedented thermal efficiency of around 40 per cent against a norm of 30-32 per cent. It’s as close as you’ll get to guilt-free 1000bhp+ motoring.

Sitting behind the engine an all-new 8-speed, single clutch, transmission and, above that, the exhaust system which, unlike the F1 version, has a silencer and catalytic converter but retains the single tailpipe.

Each of the electric motors at the front axle delivers 120 kW, and each has a tiny gearbox to permit torque vectoring. The battery cells, their configuration, connectors and direct cell liquid cooling are all a direct lift from F1. However, the 800 volt high voltage system (contained in two battery housings on each side of the car) has four times the capacity used in F1. The higher voltage level reduces voltage losses, not least in the cables. It also allows significantly shorter changing times with a constant current level.  Project One’s driving programs will even have an all-electric mode with just the front axle driven, giving a range of up to 25km. The most extreme ‘dynamic’ mode, on the other hand, will apparently adopt settings used in F1 to achieve the best possible lap times in qualifying.

Not strictly up for discussion on this ‘powertrain reveal’ but the suspension system will have race car style, horizontally packaged, pushrod dampers, a carbon tub, carbon ceramic brakes and, of course, active aero.  But perhaps most remarkably of all, AMG reckons Project One owners will be able to drive their cars for 50,000km rather than after a brisk trip around the houses in Monaco before the first ‘revision’ is needed, which means removing the engine and transmission and taking them apart to see what’s been going on, just like a race car. But given the evidence that hypercars tend to accumulate quickly-covered miles at a leisurely rate, the 50k day can probably be put off for a couple of years at least. So thank goodness for the stress-easing effect of that 11,000rpm red line.

As Project One is still undergoing fine tuning in simulation phase, no prototypes have been built yet, save for a mule running the EQ Power+ pack. But  AMG is already talking up what Project One will be capable of. For instance, it will have better traction than a Mercedes F1 car. ‘Good for perfect acceleration and record lap times, especially the Nordschleife.’ That will be something to see.

Ola Källenius told our sister title Auto Express Mercedes-AMG would make 'Between 200 to 300' - a number that Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers has now revealed to be 275 units (see below). Moers has also now confirmed that the company has more than 1000 people interested in the car, effectively confirming the market for what could be one of the most dramatic hypercars ever.

Tobias Moers opens up on the Project One in Geneva

Alongside the launch of the GT Concept, evo quizzed Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers on the other car we're awaiting with bated breath – the Project One hypercar.

Where does Project One sit in Mercedes-AMG's hybrid future?

'The idea of this hypercar is to give a totally different understanding of performance from anything else on the market. I’m hoping the car will open the door to discussion about the future, including for us. It’s different to anything else – on a technology and engineering level more challenging than anything I’ve done, the peak of technology today on the road.

'We have an F1 engine that is used to idling at 4500rpm, now idling at 1100rpm; it still revs to 11,000rpm in the road car. It is still a 1.6-litre F1 engine, with the original crankcase and cylinder heads. We have to change the injectors, and reduce the compression ratio a little, but that’s it. You don’t need an F1 team to get the car started: you hit the button and it fires up, on 98 octane – or maybe 95.'

How is the project progressing?

'We have a combined team with Brixworth [Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains], as we have a lot of experience on the emissions and OBD side. We’ve also just invested in a new [test] bench, and will run the first things there at the end of March. We’ve learned a lot as well! So far I’ve only driven it on the simulator – on the Nordschleife – but we’re going to be on the road with the car by October.'

Where do you see Project One in relation to its rivals?

'What is the benchmark for this segment? There is no benchmark. The Red Bull car is a totally different approach to us: it’s still a V12. Having unbelievable levels of downforce is good, but the trade-off with the tyres is you lose mechanical grip in slower corners as you have to make the tyres strong enough to take the high loads. The opportunity for us, and the only reason we have the Project One, is the chance to have a street-legal F1 powertrain.

'I wouldn’t do it with a V8 or V12: we could do it – call it "old school" –  but for us to define the future with it would not be feasible. Having the most efficient powertrain was the key for me calling Andy [Cowell – MD at Brixworth] and asking him [if it was possible] before I brought the idea to the board. The board has confidence in Andy and I, so we got the sign off. We are close now to four digits for prospects and only 275 cars – our customers want something special, they want new technology.'

Tobias Moers was speaking to Adam Towler

Experience the thrill of driving every month with evo magazine, devoted exclusively to the greatest performance cars in the world. If you're passionate about performance cars then evo is your ultimate monthly read.

Advertisement
продвижение