Mercedes-AMG One Packs the Soul–and Engine–of an F1 Racer
Mercedes-AMG took the phrase ‘race car for the road’ literally and made the One, a game-changing hybrid hypercar.
The popularity of crossovers, trucks, and SUVs may be hurting traditional sedan sales, but not all cars are doomed. The hypercar is alive and well. It hasn’t even been 10 years since the Porsche 918 Spyder, McLaren P1, and Ferrari LaFerrari made hybrids the stuff of teenage dreams and another generation of ultra-expensive halo machines with unbelievable levels of output has already begun. McLaren has introduced the automotive enthusiast world to the Senna and Speedtail. The Valkyrie is Aston Martin’s newest ultimate performance car. And the Mercedes-AMG One is coming next year.
Instead of using the phrase “race car for the road” as questionable marketing speak, Mercedes-AMG manifested it. They started with one of Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 cars and created the One: a low-slung, curvaceous hypercar with a giant shark fin and an even larger two-piece rear wing. They didn’t just use Hamilton’s Petronas racer as a spiritual inspiration. According to Top Gear Magazine‘s Jack Rix in the following video, under that big center fin is “the actual 1.6-liter V6 turbo lifted directly from Lewis’s 2015 F1 car, driving the rear wheels.” Given that the One is a road car that needs to last longer than the duration of one race, engineers lowered its idle speed from 4,000 to 1,200 rpm. Redline is down from 14,000 rpm to a still-astronomical 11,000 rpm.
Additional power comes from an assortment of electric motors; the One has four of them. One is attached to the crankshaft and generates 160 horsepower. Another instantly spools up the turbocharger, giving the V6 better throttle response than a naturally-aspirated V8. Rix says when the motor isn’t helping generate boost, it “harvests any extra energy created by the turbo and feeds it back into the system.” The other two 160-horsepower electric motors power the front wheels and enable precise torque vectoring. Total output should be north of 1,000 horsepower. Mercedes-AMG expects a 0-62 mph time of 2.7 seconds and the sprint from 0 to 124 mph to take less than six – 1.2 seconds faster than the 918 Spyder and 0.5 seconds quicker than the Bugatti Chiron. In fact, the One shouldn’t be significantly slower around a short track than a full-blown F1 car.
The One’s bodywork manages to balance form and function. Flaps on top of the front fenders open up to increase downforce. That big snorkel above the passenger compartment is elevated so that it can capture less turbulent air and pump it into the F1 power plant. That big black fin down the middle of the engine cover improves stability and splits air so that the two-piece rear wing can manage it most effectively.
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Thanks to an adjustable steering column and pedals, the One’s cabin is surprisingly comfortable, although sparingly furnished. There’s a compartment to store small items, HVAC vents, and two 10-inch screens. One sits in the middle of the cockpit, below the display connected to the rearview camera. The other screen is behind the rectangular F1-style steering wheel and shows the One’s speed and revs, and the state of the hybrid system. Rix says, “You will have a pure EV mode. Then you will have a range extender mode – that’s when the engine is just switched on to charge the batteries. After that, a do-it-all general hybrid mode. And after that, a maximum attack mode, which you can set to maintain the battery charge you already have or deplete everything for that one ballsy hot lap.”
It’ll take more than courage to get the Mercedes-AMG One. It’ll also require $3.2 million and a lot of persuasion to get one of the 275 people on the waiting list to give you their spot in line.