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by Tim Beissmann

A mysterious McLaren P1 prototype has been spotted undergoing high-speed testing at the Nurburgring in Germany, fuelling speculation the British supercar maker is working on a more potent version of its upcoming flagship model.

‘XP2R’ decals positioned at the inside of the rear wheel arches are the only differentiators between the silver test car snapped by our spy photographers and the McLaren P1 production car that made its international debut at the Geneva motor show in March.

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‘XP’ is McLaren’s code for ‘experimental prototype’ and the ‘2’ is a likely identifier that this is the second test vehicle of its type. The meaning of the ‘R’ is less certain, but could signify a more hardcore version of the P1 hypercar.

The fact that the prototype exhibits no obvious visual differences to the production car perhaps indicates that changes have taken place under the skin.

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The McLaren P1 is powered by a 673kW/900Nm hybrid drivetrain comprising a 542kW/720Nm 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8, a 132kW/260Nm electric motor, a battery pack and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that sends drive to the rear wheels.

After racing from 0-100km/h in less than three seconds, the speedo needle crosses 200km/h in under seven seconds and reaches 300km/h in 17 seconds – that final figure coming up five seconds sooner than in the P1’s predecessor, the legendary McLaren F1.

As well as facilitating incredible speed – an ability aided by its Formula One-inspired drag reduction system and instant power assist system technologies – the P1 has a pure-electric range of up to 20km.

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McLaren has capped P1 production at 375 units, though it has never committed that every vehicle will be built to the same specification, leaving the door open for special edition models.

The left-hand-drive-only McLaren P1 wears a £866,000 ($1.4 million) price tag, though Australian customers will likely have to part with closer to $2 million including local taxes for the privilege.