I must disclose my bias before starting this assessment of the McLaren P1. In 2014, I watched someone drive and review the P1 on TV. It was in those moments that I learned how special the McLaren was. Since the P1 was delivered to my garage in 2020, I fell in love with it. I was taken hostage by the sleek lines wrapping around the body, the wide hips housing vents and radiators, numerous perfectly placed air ducts, and the lovely shaped headlights.
The fastest vehicle I had driven at that point was the Pegassi Tempesta. If you don’t remember, this is before some great emissions changes tamed and mellowed the Tempesta. The Tempesta was a city favorite at that point. Everyone wanted one of those things. Once I drove the P1, it became my new favorite. The P1 remains my favorite car after years of vehicle additions to PDM, removals of some vehicles, and emissions changes. Now, I have the unique responsibility of pushing the McLaren P1 to its limits and sharing my findings with you.
The truth is, when the cost and performance metrics of the P1 are taken into consideration, it’s not the best deal around. The price to performance ratio of the P1 should land the vehicle somewhere in the mediocre category.
After some basic bolt-on performance modifications, the P1 sprints down the drag strip in 8.15 seconds at 127 MPH. We will refer to this metric in future car reviews as the Basic Drag Time or BDT. In this same untuned state, the P1 can go from 0-60 MPH in only 1.09 seconds and from 0-100 MPH in 3.2 seconds.
With an acceleration-focused tune, that time is chiseled down to 7.85 seconds at 130 MPH. We’ll refer to this as Accelerated Drag Time or ADT in the future. None of the tunes I tried with the P1 were able to make improvements to the 0-60 or 0-100 times. With the ADT tune, I was only able to achieve 1.39 seconds for the 0-60 time and 3.5 seconds for the 0-100 time. It seems that the P1’s best acceleration is found with a full upgrade and no tune.
An untuned P1 with stage 4 bolt-on upgrades seems to top out at 157 MPH on flat highways. For future reference, I’m going to refer to this as the FUUS (pronounced “Fuss”), which stands for Fully Upgraded Untuned Speed. The same P1 reaches 199 MPH while barreling downhill on the highway near Pillbox Hospital. We’ll refer to this at FUUS+. Once tuned for top speed, the P1 holds 163 MPH on flat highways and reaches roughly the same top speed downhill as before. We’ll refer to these metrics as Best Top Speed (BTS) and BTS+.
The best feature of the P1’s handling is the controlled sliding. It mostly sticks to the ground well, but starts to slide in most high speed corners. The sliding is not a negative thing though. The P1 keeps the driver in control even when the rear tires get loose and the rubber starts screaming. I think the P1 deserves four stars in the handling category for its sheer predictability, but not exactly five stars. We will reserve the five star rating for those “like it’s on rails” handling situations.
Buying & Selling Guide
The McLaren P1 has fallen in and out of favor since it was introduced in New York. When there was a seemingly unlimited stock of the vehicle, it normally sold right below its PDM MSRP. Once the stock became limited, the P1 could fetch at or right above MSRP. Once PDM stopped selling the P1, the price began to fluctuate. I have personally heard of the car being sold for prices that are both below and above its original release price.
Should people go and purchase a McLaren P1? Probably not. Maybe that response is concerning or surprising, especially after how I praised the vehicle. I promise that I’m not trying to keep anyone from experiencing it. For those people who are on a budget, the $80,000,000 PDM price tag is going to be hard to swing. If I only had enough money to buy the P1 and nothing else, I’d probably opt to purchase a few other less expensive vehicles that serve different purposes. For the people who have the extra cash laying around, I would highly recommend picking it up. It’s unlikely that you’ll regret it.
Body & Styling: 4/5
Basic Drag Time (BDT): 8.15s @ 126.78 MPH
Accelerated Drag Time (ADT): 7.85s @ 129.65 MPH
Fully Upgraded Untuned Speed (FUUS): 157 MPH
Fully Upgraded Untuned Speed Plus (FUUS+): 199 MPH
Best Top Speed (BTS): 163 MPH
Best Top Speed Plus (BTS+): 199 MPH
PDM MSRP: $80,000,000