McLaren P1 vs Porsche 918 – which is the better auction buy?

It's Porsche 918 Spyder vs McLaren P1 at RM Sotheby's Petersen Automotive museum auction, with both heading across the block next month

The McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder make up two-thirds of the hyper car 'holy trinity' that was revealed in 2013. Usually when rival manufacturers make their ‘once in a decade’ halo models, launch dates are peppered across the calendar, but that year a trio of next-generation machines all arrived at once. With both a P1 and a 918 heading to the RM Sotheby's Petersen Automotive Museum Auction, which should you bid on?

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Let's start with the obvious performance comparisons between the two. The Porsche is powered by a 4.6-litre V8 engine and a pair of electric motors for a total output of 875bhp. That’s less than the McLaren’s 903bhp twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8. However, the torque figures tell a different story, thanks to the Porsche’s greater electrical power.

The P1 musters 664 lb ft while the 918 trumps it with a hefty 940 lb ft of torque. Both will do the 0-60mph dash in under three seconds, but it’s the Porsche that has the greater top speed which is limited to 217mph vs the 211mph+ stated by McLaren. The on-paper figures consist of give and take with each working out to be pretty much as potent as the other. That said, such numbers are only ever good for a game of Top Trumps down at the pub.

Out in the real world the difference between the two is a bit more stark. The Porsche is certainly the most technologically advanced, with a drivetrain that relies more on its hybrid elements than the McLaren. That’s said, the way in which the McLaren reduces turbo lag, thanks to its battery tech, is pretty clever too.

Put the pair on track and things like the P1’s Formula 1 inspired drag reduction system, asphalt-hugging track mode, and 600kg of downforce gives it a distinct advantage. The fairest track comparison we’ve seen was done by Evo, which resulted in the P1 setting a lap time just over a second faster than its German counterpart.

A win for the McLaren then? Not exactly. Sure, the British-built supercar has proven to be faster, but you can’t legally drive it on the road in track mode or at the speeds required to generate those huge downforce figures. It’s the Porsche 918 Spyder that is better suited to everyday driving thanks to an all-electric range of 18-miles for silent cruising.

How about collectability? That’ll likely be the key reason people get into a bidding frenzy over this pair come December. Glancing as the current batch for sale, both appear to be tracking around £1.1m - £1.2m ($1.43m - $1.56m), meaning that it’s the Porsche 918 Spyder which has appreciated most over the past five years.

A 918 costed £100,000 ($130,000) less than a P1 when new — so with both worth around the same now, that makes the Porsche the winner of this round. Surprised? I must say that we were, especially as Porsche made 918 examples of its hyper car whereas the McLaren is far rarer with just 375 in existence. The McLaren’s rarity might tip the scales in the future, but right now it’s a level playing field.

When it comes to the cars that will be hitting the auction blocks, both were new in 2015 and both only have a few hundred miles on the odometer — 350 miles for the McLaren, 279 miles for the Porsche. The differences come in the detail with the McLaren featuring a more subtle specification than the Martini liveried 918. This Porsche’s added flair comes part of the Weissach Package which also ditches some luxuries in the name of weight saving.

Both cars are very tempting propositions for collectors, each with strong current residual and growing values. We’d say that if you were going to put some mileage on your next hyper car investment that the Porsche 918 Spyder will likely suit you best. However, our long-term investment vote would go to the McLaren for its ultimate rarity.

Both of these cars will feature at RM Sotheby's Petersen Automotive Museum Auction on 8th December 2018.

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