The most remarkable element of the way that the 12C drives is not its handling but the ride comfort allowed by its hydropneumatic suspension. The P1 utilises a similar system, but there’s no question that it feels set up to be firmer and more controlled.
However, the P1 still stops well short of being crashy or harsh, and it adeptly softens the edges to ridges and bumps. The suspension can be raised by 30mm to clear kerbs, too.
So there are plenty of cars with lesser performance that would feel less at home on a transcontinental drive.
Only the P1's noise levels become wearing on a long journey. It is reassuringly stable, solid and refined, with steering that, at 2.4 turns lock to lock, is far less nervous than the rack in an F12.
On give-and-take cross-country roads, the P1 has more performance and capability than you can use, given visibility and the laws of most countries. One of the challenges faced by modern performance cars, therefore, is to offer driver rewards at merely sensible speeds, and the P1’s ability to cover ground and engage its driver through linear, responsive controls and with strong feedback does precisely that.
And then you come to what the P1 can do on a circuit – and that is, quite frankly, astonishing, regardless of what you do with the chassis settings. It’s good in all of them, but moving from Normal to Sport tightens the damping, and going to Track does so again.
Hold down Race mode, however, and the P1 lowers itself by 50mm and raises its rear spoiler to its tallest, highest-downforce setting. Dropping itself increases spring rates by 300 percent, and the P1 behaves like a racing car.
It’s not the urge with which the P1 throws itself down the straights that is most extraordinary, or the fantastic power of its stoppers, or the outright grip, but its blend of all-round capability. That was the aim, says chief test driver Chris Goodwin: not to major on any particular area, but to excel in all.
Around our challenging dry handling circuit, a Veyron Super Sport demolishes every single corner exit and straight, a Caterham Seven 160 is astoundingly agile, a Radical SR3 SL produces race car levels of downforce and so corners with more speed than you thought possible, and a Toyota GT86 is playful beyond compare.
The P1 mixes elements of all of those – not to their extremes, but as a whole it eclipses them all. It scarcely seems possible, but McLaren has created a car that costs £866,000 and produces 903bhp yet is as joyful and faithful to throw around a circuit as a two-stroke kart.