by Bill P.
McLaren dropped an ultra-exclusive super-sports car this year, the Senna, as part of their Ultimate Series. Named after Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna, the McLaren Senna is the lightest, most track concentrated whip in their arsenal.
The McLaren Senna the personification of McLaren’s motorsport DNA inspired by from Formula 1 racecars. Every element of this new Ultimate Series McLaren has an uncompromised performance focus, honed to ensure the purest possible connection between driver and machine and deliver the ultimate track driving experience. The Ultimate Series creates its own trademark of supercar daily usability and the new Senna has been designed, engineered and developed to be the ultimate McLaren track-concentrated car for the road. Ultra-lightweight construction, a mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged V8 McLaren engine, rear wheel drive and sophisticated race-derived suspension delivers an unparalleled blend of control and dynamic balance.
Visually, the McLaren Senna shocks. Viewed from above, the Senna’s teardrop shape has body components ‘clipped’ onto the cabin to deliver optimal aerodynamic performance.
With downforce and aerodynamic balance the guiding principles, this car is the purest expression of ‘form follows function’ design philosophy embraced by McLaren.
The first impression is of an aggressive, unforgiving machine with large front intakes and rear carbon fiber double diffuser optimizing downforce and aerodynamic balance. Front aero blades, brake calipers and seat trim are finished in Azura Blue, McLaren Orange or one of five “By McLaren” theme certifications. Single blade LED headlights and taillights optimize airflow. A huge carbon fiber rear wing is hydraulically actuated to constantly adjust to optimized levels of downforce and functions as an airbrake under heavy braking. At its highest point, the wing sits at 47.9 in. with a planform surface area of 6.9 sq.ft.
Cooling requirements played an equally crucial role in the overall design of the McLaren Senna: the rear clamshell, for example, was born from the twin demands of aerodynamic and cooling performance, with prominent ‘gurney’ flaps ahead of a succession of stepped louvres directing air away from the rear deck and down the sides of the body.
The McLaren Senna boasts carbon fiber McLaren F1-inspired dihedral doors that hinge forwards and upwards, opening with a portion of the roof. The release mechanisms and window switches are housed alongside the engine start button in a carbon fiber console above the driver’s head.
The cockpit features abundant carbon fiber components and Alcantara or leather seats. Instead of steering wheel controls and a cluttered center stack, the McLaren Senna’s cabin design is minimalist with most of the information the driver needs comeing from the high-definition McLaren Folding Driver Display and central infotainment screen. Storage space is restricted to a chamber behind the seats integral to the Monocage III with just enough room for two helmets and race suits.
McLaren’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine in the Senna boasts 789 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. It’s the most powerful road car internal combustion engine ever created by McLaren. Lightweight internal components reduce mass in the powertrain and combine with ultra-low inertia, twin-scroll turbochargers and electronically controlled waste gates to deliver lightning-quick throttle responsiveness.
A dual-clutch, seamless-shift, seven-speed automatic gearbox delivers power to the rear wheels. Manual mode is available via paddle shifters. The Active Dynamics Panel with Comfort, Sport or Track modes adjusts the transmission and the V8. Race mode is selectable via a switch in a roof-mounted panel. Race mode lowers the Senna’s ride height, center of gravity and stiffens suspension.
RaceActive Chassis Control II (RCC II) hydraulic suspension works in harmony with front and rear active aerodynamics and the ultra-rigid Monocage III to deliver an incredibly intensive experience. RCC II is a double-wishbone suspension system that additionally features hydraulically interconnected dampers and a hydraulic replacement for conventional mechanical anti-roll bars. It also further develops the variable stiffness and ride height technology first seen in the pioneering hydraulic system in the McLaren P1™. The McLaren Senna is fitted with carbon ceramic disc brakes and bespoke Pirelli P Zero™ Trofeo R tires.
The limited edition McLaren Senna went on sale a few months ago at $850k (approx. £750,000) with only 500 in rotation. All have since been sold.