I flew into Paris yesterday morning, was driven into the centre of the city and through a back entrance to the Paris auto show.
Dodging the forklift trucks, pallets and acres of abandoned plywood sheets, the McLaren press team led us up to a large black curtain, which was theatrically pulled aside to reveal the McLaren show stand - the first time the company has ever been present at an international motorshow.
I can reveal that the all-white and very glossy stand (we were constantly warned about standing on the newly-laid shiny floor tiles) hosts three cars: a 12C coupe, 12C Spider and the new P1 super-supercar.
Autocar will be able to reveal more about this extraordinary car from 5pm this afternoon, but what I can tell you is that the photographs of the P1 do not do the car justice. In the flesh, has a striking functionality and does not look in anyway forced or contrived. It does have a large amount of the kind of extreme functional beauty that marks out, say, a Eurofighter Typhoon.
What is impressive about the car is that every aspect of the exterior has been shaped to fulfil a defined function. The P1 is a clear reflection of the current global design trends for authenticity, mostly because the car has such extreme performance parameters which leaves little room for styling fripperies.
We won’t see the car’s interior today, or find out about the drivetrain. All that is scheduled for next spring, ahead of the car going on sale in late 2013. But I can assure you that the P1 is a long way from the restraint and refinement of the 12C. And, from what I can gather, the P1’s real-world performance is reflected in the car’s extreme aesthetics.