The new Mercedes-Benz Project One is an F1 racecar for the streets

Mercedes-Benz has unleashed the closest thing to a Formula 1 car for the road.

The Mercedes-AMG Project One uses a roadgoing version of the 1.6-litre V6 turbo engine in the championship-winning Benz F1 cars teamed to two electric motors for explosive performance.

Mercedes doesn't even bother claiming a 0-100km/h time – car makers are regularly logging sub-three-second times, so differentiating between models is difficult – instead referring to the 0-200km/h time, which is less than six seconds.

More than a supercar

That makes the multi-million-dollar hypercar a few seconds quicker to 200km/h than mere supercars.

"We are drawing on our experiences and successes from three constructors' and drivers' world championships to bring Formula 1 technology to the road for the first time", said Daimler chairman Dr Dieter Zetsche at the German reveal of the car that coincides with the 50th anniversary of AMG.

Board member Ola Kallenius says the Project One is "a fascinating mixture of performance and efficiency", combining the high revving F1 engine with two 120kW electric motors powering the front wheels.

It can even drive up to 25 kilometres on electricity alone, before firing up its F1 heart for more serious punch.

Start saving

But it's not cheap, with a price tag of about $5 million for what is by far the fastest, most expensive road car to ever wear the three-pointed star badge.

Apart from the fact you can't actually buy one – all 275 examples slated to be built already have deposits against them – if you could you'd need plenty of coin.


(The asking price is 2.275 million Euros, which at today's exchange rate translates to $3.4 million. By the time you add stamp duty, 10 percent GST and the 33 percent luxury tax the figure gets closer to $5 million.)

One Down Under

Eight Australians have popped money down on a Project One, something that will no doubt make local governments very happy.

For every Project One sold here – some buyers may choose to keep them overseas – the Federal Government will pocket about $1 million in luxury car tax, $300,000 in GST and a cheeky $150,000 in import duty.

Even the state governments will have a grin as they reap about $50,000 in stamp duty.

It's safe to say the Australian tax system will earn plenty more on a Project One than Mercedes-Benz will.

A new level of fast

McLaren's upcoming 720S is one of the fastest and most powerful cars on the road, capable of hitting 200km/h in 7.8 seconds.

Ferrari's sold out 812 Superfast – powered by a 6.5-litre V12 – takes 7.9 seconds.

Mercedes-AMG claims less than six seconds for the Project One on the way to a top speed above 350km/h.

A couple of seconds may not sound like much, but in the rarefied air of the world's fastest cars it's daylight.

With that sort of performance, any gains in pace adhere to the law of diminishing returns: it takes a heck of a lot more power/technology/money to make the car go fractionally faster.

But maybe not the fastest

The Project One is next level quick, but it's not the last word in hypercars.

Aston Martin is currently developing what it says will be the fastest car around a race track.

To be known as Valkyrie, it's had extensive input and development from F1 guru Adrian Newey.

And McLaren – most famous for former F1 success and the F1 road car of the 1990s – is creating a three-seater grand tourer designed to raise the performance benchmark for the brand.

Inside line

There's only seating for two and, naturally, the seats hug the body to stop people shifting and sliding during brisk cornering.

Even in Australia, the driver will sit on the left; as such the car may not be able to be registered in most states.

And even the stubby steering wheel has been inspired by F1.

As well as integrated shift lights and fingertip adjustable performance parameters the wheel is relatively small and has a flat top and nearly flat bottom.

It's designed so that drivers can perfectly position themselves in the car then hold the wheel with the same grip during high speed driving.

Marketing muscle

Car makers have long connected their road car programs with Formula One with the aim of leveraging the marketing might of the world's top echelon of motorsport.

Honda's variable valve timing technology, for example, was developed in F1 before filtering itself across the Honda range and, ultimately, across all brands.

However the gap between F1 technology and the road has widened in recent years.

Many highly relevant road car technologies – including electronic handling aids such as stability control, now standard on all new cars – are banned in F1. F1 cars aren't even allowed anti-lock brakes.

And what works on the race track – high downforce and slick tyres, for example – is largely irrelevant for most road cars.

But the Project One brings the two closer than ever.