The Mercedes-AMG Project One is brimming with Formula One technology. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Mercedes-AMG Project One is brimming with Formula One technology. Picture: SUPPLIED

Mercedes-AMG insists its Project One road car could be even quicker than the modified Porsche Le Mans racer that destroyed the Nurburgring outright lap record earlier in 2018.

It is not considering a record run of its own, but Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers believes his Project One could be a match for the Porsche at the track that means the most to his Stuttgart rival.

"I saw the lap record run on video and it was impressive," Moers admitted. "Could we beat the Porsche ‘Ring time? We could, probably. It would be close, but I think we could."

While the Porsche 919 Evo averaged 238km/h on its blistering lap of the ‘Ring with Timo Bernhard at the wheel and stretched its legs up to 369km/h, it was no production car. Nor did Porsche claim it was. The 919 Evo was pitched as a "tribute" car to salute its Le Mans success, but the Project One is planned to be a road car riddled with hybrid F1 technology.

Porsche has denied that the pending arrival of the Project One and its Red Bull-Aston Martin rival, the Valkyrie, prompted it to defend Stefan Bellof’s 6:11.13 record from 1983. Sources have insisted even Porsche family members and board members didn’t want the 919 Evo lap record run to eclipse its beloved Bellof’s achievement, set in a 956 racer.

The 919 Evo was tweaked to deliver more of everything allowed by FIA, including upping the electric energy recovery, boosting the 2-litre, turbo V4 engine from 368kW to 530kW and pushing 323kW out of the front electric motor.

Its custom-built aero package delivered 53% more downforce at the bumpy track and it weighed 39kg less than the car’s race trim.

But Bernhard’s 5:19.55 run hasn’t daunted Moers, who remains confident in the powertrain and aero efficiency of his Project One. "It’s not a production car. Ours is," he said.

Conceived to offer the closest possible thing to an F1 car for the road, the two-seat Project One hybrid is powered by an F1-derived 1.6l V6 turbo engine and four electric motors, for a total system output of more than 740kW.

Aston's next supercar

Only this teaser sketch is available for now, but Aston Martin’s Project ‘003’ will be a petrol-electric supercar with some boot space. Picture: SUPPLIED
Only this teaser sketch is available for now, but Aston Martin’s Project ‘003’ will be a petrol-electric supercar with some boot space. Picture: SUPPLIED

Aston Martin’s next step into the mid-engined hypercar market has been confirmed with the release of the first official details of Project "003".

Project "003" is the third hypercar to be developed by Aston Martin following the Aston Martin Valkyrie and track-only Valkyrie AMR Pro (formerly "001" and "002").

Although only a teaser sketch is available for now, it’s known that Project "003" will be built around a lightweight structure and powered by a turbocharged petrol-electric hybrid engine.

Combined with active aerodynamics for outstanding levels of downforce in a road-legal car, active suspension systems providing next-level precision, control and driver connection like the Aston Martin Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro, Project "003" will aim to have class-leading dynamics on both road and track.

But this won’t be a track-only car, and Project "003" will also offer practical concessions to road use, including space for luggage. Available in all markets in both left and right-hand drive, production will be limited to 500 coupe examples globally, with the first cars arriving to market in late 2021.

Aston Martin Lagonda president and group CEO Andy Palmer said: "It was always the intention for the Aston Martin Valkyrie to be a once-in-a-lifetime project. However, it was also vital to us that Valkyrie would create a legacy: a direct descendent that would also set new standards within its own area of the hypercar market, creating a bloodline of highly specialised, limited production machines that can exist in parallel with Aston Martin’s series production models. I’m thrilled to announce that this car is the Project ‘003’, and our next step into a dynamic and exacting arena."

VW gets electrified

The first car based on the MEB platform will be a production version of 2016’s VW ID hatchback concept. Picture: SUPPLIED
The first car based on the MEB platform will be a production version of 2016’s VW ID hatchback concept. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Volkswagen Group plans to launch close to 80 electric cars across all of its brands by 2025.

Apart from VW’s premium electric car platforms like the C-BEV debuting in the Audi e-tron and the J1 debuting in the Porsche Taycan, a new PPE platform being developed by Audi and Porsche is due to spawn its first model in 2021, plus there’s a potential SPE platform for electric sports cars.

But the group sees the MEB platform as being instrumental in transforming the electric car from a niche product into a true alternative to cars with conventional powertrains. The MEB platform is the most important for the car maker, as the cars based on it will be more affordable and sell in higher volumes than models based on the group’s other electric car platforms.

VW likens the MEB introduction as monumental as the transition from the Beetle to the Golf. The first car based on the MEB platform will be a production version of 2016’s VW ID hatchback concept. The hatch, which will be slightly larger than a Golf, is already being tested as a prototype.

Other battery electric cars headed for production include production versions of VW’s ID Crozz crossover and ID Buzz van concepts unveiled in 2017. Both are expected after 2020.

VW says cars built on the MEB platform will be able to be charged from zero to 80% charge in about 30 minutes, while the expected range is around 400km.