Scary-looking cars, the McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder. Especially when they’re lined up beside one another, V8 engines percolating, heat soak wafting out of their many portals, providing anyone who comes near them with a clear and acutely physical indication of how much energy they contain within.
Together, they produce almost 1800bhp. Their collective top speed is 431mph. When either – or, better still, both – of their combustion engines are running, the ground beneath your feet begins to oscillate. And yet both cars are also quite extraordinarily beautiful and highly relevant machines to look at and to drink in, albeit for distinctly separate reasons.
The P1 appears more complex visually, especially around its rump, which looks as if it could ingest a grown human being whole without anyone really noticing.
The 918 seems purer and simpler by contrast, despite the garish stripes that adorn the bodywork of this lightweight Weissach Pack version of the car. It has wings and ducts and huge 21-inch rear wheels, yes, but beside the P1 it looks less furious and more fluid. It also looks instantly and unmistakably a Porsche.
The P1 is the more expensive of the pair, at £866,000. McLaren has decreed that it will build just 375 during the next two years, so it’s also the more exclusive. The Porsche, on the other hand, costs a shade over £700,000 in Weissach specification (its actual price is quoted only in euros, at €853,155) and will be more than twice as common as the P1, Porsche intending to build 918 examples over the next two years.
Both are fully paid-up hybrids. The P1’s twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8 and electric motor produce combined outputs of 903bhp and 664lb ft, sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.