McLaren Senna promises otherworldly performance

Article William Morris
Feb 7, 2018
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Impressive claimed figures make McLaren’s hypercar one of its fastest

McLaren has finally released performance figures for its forthcoming Senna hypercar. The car – which is already sold out – will be able to do 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and go on to a top speed of 211mph.

The McLaren Senna uses a 789bhp twin-turbo V8 petrol engine and has a body made entirely from carbon-fibre to keep it both stiff and light. The car tips the scales at 1,198kg and has a better power-to-weight ratio than McLaren’s previous flagship model, the P1. The Senna’s power output means it will become the most powerful road-legal McLaren ever made.

The car’s lack of weight and wealth of power mean performance is remarkable and perfectly suited to its track-focused nature: 0-124mph takes just 6.8 seconds and 0-186mph just 17.5 seconds. The car will even cover a quarter mile from a standstill in 9.9 seconds – a feat that makes it quicker than the McLaren F1 hypercar of the 1990s.

The shape of the Senna has been designed with aerodynamic efficiency and downforce in mind, with McLaren saying the car will give “the most intense circuit experience of any road McLaren” as a result.

The car’s name is in honour of Ayrton Senna, the legendary Formula 1 driver who was with the McLaren F1 team from 1988-1993. All 500 examples of the car have already been sold, and a portion of each car’s £750,000 price tag will be given to the Ayrton Senna Foundation, an NGO that funds educational projects for children in Brazil.

Indeed, the final build slot was sold at a private auction, fetching £2m for the charity.

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The McLaren Senna isn’t a direct replacement for the McLaren P1 but it promises to be a faster car round a racetrack. The pursuit of this level of performance has led to sacrifices in practicality and luxury terms, with the inside of the car stripped back to the essentials. Door handles, windows switches and the engine start button have all been moved to the ceiling of the interior, while space behind the car’s carbon-fibre bucket seats is only big enough for two crash helmets.

McLaren has described the new model as the ‘ultimate track car’, which forgoes daily usability to be the “lightest, fastest, most engaging McLaren yet”. While there are no official performance figures available at this stage, we expect the car to manage 0-62mph in less than three seconds and go on to a top speed of more than 200mph.

The Senna’s uncompromising design is clear when you take a look at its gigantic carbon rear wing, which tilts hydraulically to adjust downforce levels and act as an airbrake. Moveable flaps in the car’s air vents aid cooling, while a huge double diffuser at the rear of the car can grow in height, again to improve downforce. The car’s trio of exhaust pipes sit high on the rear of the car, flush with the bodywork, and direct waste gases towards the rear wing.

McLaren has introduced a new braking system on the Senna, consisting of carbon ceramic brakes with a new ‘CCMR’ compound for improved performance, and the car will be shod with Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo tyres that are road legal but intended for track use.

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Joining the new car in the Ultimate Series at a later date will be a ‘hyper-GT’ model, currently codenamed BP23. Both cars will be produced in limited numbers – indeed, if you were clearing space in the garage on hearing the news, you’ll be disappointed to learn that all examples of both new models have already been assigned owners.

Ultimate Series models, like the McLaren P1 and McLaren P1 GTR, represent the pinnacle of the brand’s range, sitting above the Super Series, which currently contains the McLaren 720, and the Sports Series, containing the McLaren 570 and 540.

With a focus on uncompromised performance, McLaren says the Senna is “the purest expression yet of the company’s ‘form follows function’ philosophy”.

The car will make its physical debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show next March.

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