NZ might miss out on Project One

Has our neighbour nabbed every example of the just–revealed ultimate AMG?


FAST lane-loving fat cats in Australia might well have beaten their Kiwi counterparts to putting down dibs on the handful of Mercedes-AMG Project One’s coming this way.

That seems to be the signal out of Mercedes Benz New Zealand in respect to the $4-5 million hypercar, unveiled at last week’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

It seems eight examples of the outrageous two-seater, essentially essentially a road-going version of the Mercedes Petronas F1 racing car, have been allocated to Australasia out of a total build run of 275 units – and it seems every one of them will stay on the other side of the Tasman.

“There are no New Zealand buyers confirmed at this stage, just the Australian allocation of eight to date,” a brand spokesman has told MotoringNetwork in respect to the model, which is understood to have another 18 months of development work ahead before first deliveries begin.

Out to compete with the Aston Martin Valkyrie, which is destined for local use – with the brand confirming two are incoming - and McLaren’s next hypercar, the BP23, the One runs a rear-mounted high-revving 1.6-litre V6 with a pair of electric motors on the front axle.

The petrol engine develops “more than” 500kW, while each electric motor pumps out 120kW, making for a system output of “over” 740kW – or more than 1000 horsepower.

Interestingly, Mercedes-AMG hasn’t quoted torque figures, nor the time it takes for the Project One to sprint from 0-100kmh, though AMG boss Tobias Moers has suggested it is likely in the vicininty of 2.5 seconds.

The brand did say last week that the hybrid hypercar can dash from 0-200kmh in less than 6.0 seconds on its way to a top speed “beyond 350kmh”. 

The 1.6-litre engine is capable of reaching 11000rpm, though Mercedes-AMG says for higher longevity and due to the use of ‘Super Plus’ petrol instead of racing fuel, the Project One’s powerplant remains “significantly below” the race car’s rev limit.

The dual electric motors on the front axle are capable of spinning at up to 50,000rpm, well above the current industry benchmark of 20,000rpm.

Additionally, the electrically-assisted turbocharger that mates to the 1.6-litre engine features a 90kW electric motor on the shaft connecting the exhaust and intake sides of the petrol engine, which allows the compressor turbine to reach speeds of up to 100,000rpm.

Mercedes claims that the use of an electric turbocharger completely eliminates lag and makes the force-fed V6 more responsive than a normally aspirated V8.

The Project One’s grunt is sent to all four wheels via Mercedes-AMG’s 4Matic-plus variable all-wheel-drive system.

It uses an automated eight-speed manual transmission developed from scratch specifically for the Project One, which can be operated in automatic mode or manually via steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Mercedes estimates its regenerative braking technology can recover up to 80 percent of energy under everyday driving conditions, while the electric turbocharger can use parts of the surplus energy from the exhaust system to generate electricity, which can then either be used for additional drive power or storage in the car’s lithium-ion battery.

The lithium-ion battery cells and the cell cooling system, which are stored in the vehicle floor behind the front axle, are the same as the ones used in the Mercedes Formula One racecar.

Drive modes can range from pure EV, with up to 25 kilometres emissions-free driving, to a dynamic mode similar to that used by its F1 counterpart.

The Project One has a multi-link suspension design front and rear and sits on 10-spoke, forged aluminium wheels with a radial carbon-fibre semi-cover measuring 19 inches at the front and 20 inches behind, with three ventilation slots per spoke for brake cooling.

The special wheels are shod in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber – 285/35 up front and 335/30 at the rear.

At the back end, the subtle lip spoiler can extend into a large aerofoil wing, which combined with the hulking two-section carbon-fibre diffuser contributes to aerodynamic efficiency.

The large central exhaust outlet with two smaller apertures is an obvious nod to F1.

In respect to the interior, Mercedes-AMG emphasises it’s all about functionality first. The F1-inspired rectangular steering wheel can control normal functions such as cruise control, infotainment and phone, as well as the traction control, driving modes and an LED display giving rev readouts.

Two 10.0-inch screens are on display, one for the instrument cluster and the other for the infotainment screen, with air-conditioning vents integrated underneath the central screen and in the doors.

Carbon-fibre abounds throughout the cabin, including on the dash, in the doors and on the centre console, while the bucket seats, steering wheel and pedals are all adjustable.

In-cabin storage is available behind both seats, while the rearview mirror has been replaced by a screen linked to a rear camera.

Meantime, AMG’s boss has revealed that there is to be a Black Series of its fastest car available here, the Mercedes-AMG GT but has again poured cold water on speculation that the X-Class one-tonne utlity will get AMG treatment.