It’s really not that often that the world’s supercar makers take the next step and release what’s known as a hypercar. So when it does happen, it’s greeted with a mix of fervent anticipation, mixed feelings, love for the brand, and a solitary question: is it THAT good?
Iconic British brand, McLaren is one of those that steps up and delivers. Its latest entrant to the hypercar club is a track focused, road legal, 220 mph tarmac chewing machine and comes with a name that evokes skill and race day thrills. It’s a limited edition, with just 500 being made, and they’re all spoken for. Sadly. We say welcome to the McLaren Senna.
The purposeful looking exterior, one that’s already polarized opinion, is built around a carbon fiber chassis and is called MonoCage 111. This light weight and super strong engineering marvel weighs just 1198 kilograms, plays home to both carbon fiber panels and a 4.0 liter, twin turbocharged, V8 engine that produces 800 PS (metric horsepower/ 588 kilowatts) or 789 horsepower. All up, it’s a power to weight ratio of an astonishing 688 PS/658 hp to the tonne and delivers a 0 – 60 mph time of just 2.5 seconds.
As is expected from hypercars, it’s a mid-mounted powerplant and the Senna puts down its 590 ft-lb torque (800 Newton metres) to the rear wheels via a seven speed close ratio dual clutch transmission. Staying with its dedicated track focused market, McLaren have fitted their Race Active Chassis Control 11 hydraulic suspension system and to ensure maximum grip whilst at maximum attack, Pirelli P ZeroTM Trofeo R tires are standard. Knowing that the buyers will likely hardly ever have the Senna on public tarmac, a race type central locking system is also fitted.
Where the Senna really stands apart from its brethren is its hard edged, hard core, exterior design. Already the mix of curves, cut-outs, and lines that terminate in areas that have purpose and no aesthetic prettiness, have divided opinions. In profile it’s not unlike its siblings in the Sports and Super Series however the massive rear deck wing that sits a maximum of 48 inches above the tarmac, air gulping intakes at the front and on the rear haunches, plus the Gorilla Glass inserts in the lower sections of the gull wing doors, stamp this car as something more than exotic. Even the single piece rear diffuser that increases rear axle downforce and looks like it’s of two sections, is carbon fiber.
The rear wing is a sight to behold and whether it’s a thing of beauty is debateable. Its functionality is not. It’s mounted on hydraulic actuators that constant adjust at speed and under braking will go vertical to back up the carbon fiber brakes.
Inside it’s more of the same. A tight interior has room for driver, passenger, roof mounted windows and ignition switch, a bare minimum of storage behind the seats for race suits, and that’s it. In fact, McLaren debated having only the driver’s seat knowing the purpose of the Senna was track work, not road work.
And it’s those final two words that lead McLaren to say the Senna is, indeed, their most extreme road car yet. The price backs that up, at something in the order of one million U.S. dollars.
Beautiful in concept and execution, polarizing in looks, the McLaren Senna joins an exclusive club. The hypercar family has a new member.