The long-awaited 735-kW-plus Project One has begun the next stage of its development programme at Mercedes-AMG’s Immendingen proving ground. Powered by an F1-derived turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 hybrid engine supplemented with no fewer than 4 electric motors, the Three-pointed Star’s hypercar can catapult from 0 to 200 kph in under 6 seconds. It sounds like an F1 car too – only better!
We sensed that Mercedes-AMG was stepping up its efforts to get the Project One (of which only 275 units will be produced) ready for delivery – the first units are expected to be shipped in early 2021 – when our spy photographers spotted pre-production units last month. A concept of the audacious hypercar was revealed as long ago as the 2017 Frankfurt Show, but the task of adapting rarefied Formula One technology for a road-car application has proven trickier than the Affalterbach-based firm had expected.
Mercedes-AMG has adapted the complex powertrain to comply with WLTP emissions standards using a petrol particulate filter.
However, the Project One’s development programme “has now largely transferred from the test stands to concentrate more on test tracks”, the firm has announced. Several pre-production models are currently being put through their paces at the Three-pointed Star’s technology centre at Immendingen and, for the first time, project leaders have been authorised to test the hybrid powertrain with its full output of more than 735 kW.
To recap, Mercedes-AMG’s hypercar is powered by an adapted version of the hybrid power unit from the brand’s championship-winning WO7 F1 car (2014), which works in conjunction with 2 electric motors: the first 80-kW unit keeps the turbocharger on the boil at all times, while the second 120-kW motor is linked directly to the crankshaft. What’s more, 2 additional electric motors are mounted at the front axle (the wheel-selective front axle drive concept) to allow a pure-electric driving range of up to 25 km.
All 275 units of the Mercedes-AMG Project One have been pre-sold, for more than R60 million apiece.
It was initially reported the engine would idle at 4 000 rpm and redline at 13 500 rpm, but Mercedes-AMG has had to adapt the powertrain, which is mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission, to idle at 1 200 rpm and “rev to over 11 000 rpm”. Still, the Project One is expected to accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in 2.5 seconds and achieve a 350-kph top speed. The engine should be good for 50 000 km before requiring a rebuild.
Along with the dynamic test programme and some refinements to the car's driveability, Mercedes-AMG is also honing the hypercar’s active aerodynamics. The effectiveness of the “complex interplay between the various active components (such as the louvres, the air outlets in the front fenders and the large rear aerofoil) as a means of delivering the car's exceptional lateral dynamics” is now being benchmarked outside the wind tunnel.
Following a series of tests at the Immendingen proving ground, Mercedes-AMG has set its sights on the Nurburgring.
The belated release of the Project One is juxtaposed with the upcoming Aston Martin Valkyrie, which is rear-wheel-driven and powered by a 865 kW/900 Nm 6.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol-electric hybrid V12. The Mercedes-AMG, by contrast, can deliver all-wheel-drive traction via its petrol engine (rear wheels) and twin electric motors up front.
What’s the next step in the hypercar’s exhaustive testing and development programme? It will soon be tested on Nürburgring Nordschleife! Mercedes-AMG has said on a previous occasion that it won’t seek to set a new lap record with the car, but we think the German firm "doth protest too much".