Mercedes-Benz celebrated the 50th anniversary of AMG at the 2017 edition of the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring this weekend, but the seven AMG GT3s gunning for the podium were just part of the excitement. In a darkened trackside room, AMG CEO Tobias Moers pulled the cover off a drivetrain mockup and spilled a few details on the upcoming Project One hypercar.
The Formula 1 connection goes deeper than many have dared believe, with the engine being very nearly the same unit as the one sitting behind Lewis Hamilton in his W07. The exhaust system is more substantial than what an F1 car needs, the redline has been reduced to 11,000 rpm for longevity, and the pistons and crank are tweaked to net a more favorable compression ratio, but that’s about it. It uses the same split-turbo design as the Formula 1 car, with the turbine wheel on the back of the engine, the compressor wheel on the front, and a shaft that connects the two passing right through the valley of the engine. A 107-hp motor around that shaft helps spin the massive turbo up to speed and also acts as a generator.
More than the power, Moers said, he’s proud of the Project One’s 43 percent thermal efficiency. Among the greatest challenges of civilizing an engine like this for the street is taming the noise, vibration, and harshness and getting it to idle at a speed that won’t alarm buyers. On the F1 grid, these engines idle at around 4000 rpm, but the Project One will have a more familiar resting heart rate of 1000 to 1200 rpm.
Mercedes-AMG Project One
A 168-hp electric motor is geared directly to the crankshaft, and two more 161-hp motors power each front wheel. Moers would not say what total system output is, but he did confirm that it will be more than 1000 horsepower. As in the F1 car, the hybrid powertrain will be backed up by an eight-speed automated manual supplied by Xtrac (the same company that supplies AMG with its single-clutch sequential gearboxes for the W07).
Everything about the batteries—from their cell design to their cooling strategy to their arrangement—is the same as the units used in Formula 1, except that there are more of them—four times as many. Of the powertrain’s approximately 925 pounds, the batteries account for about 220. Moers said his team is expecting an EV range of 15.5 miles.
Pushrod-activated suspensions front and rear borrow heavily from racing designs. At least on the drivetrain mockup, the rear tires are 335/30ZR-20s, with the fronts measuring 285/35ZR-19. Expect extensive use of carbon fiber in the structure as well as the bodywork, which we’re really hoping borrows from the CLK GTR.
Moers said AMG hopes to build one Project One per day, with production beginning in mid- to late 2019. Only 275 will be made, at a price of around $2.7 million. Each. Most—if not all—are already spoken for. But if your dealer hasn’t asked you yet, don’t expect to get on the list now.