How do you create anything in the world of automobiles that can live up to the Senna name?
McLaren Automotive has revealed that the model formerly known as the McLaren P15 will officially be launched as the McLaren Senna. Apparently, the name was chosen in close consultation with the legendary driver's family; a portion of the sales from each of the 500 new hypercars (all pre-sold) will be donated to the Ayrton Senna Foundation.
The McLaren Senna’s Design
You don't have to look very hard to recognise the Senna as having rolled off the McLaren production line. A DNA test isn't necessary to tell that it is the offspring of the McLaren P1, and the first cousin twice removed of the 720S.
While there are few traces of the granddaddy of McLaren supercars, 1992’s F1, on the outside, the 1+2 triangular seating arrangement with the driver front and centre is a nice nod to the vehicle that started it all for the company.
Another interesting element of the interior is the roof-mounted control panel that houses the starter button, race mode selector and door and window controls.
The McLaren Senna Engine
The second chapter of the McLaren Ultimate Series promises to be a road-legal beast. McLaren has yet to reveal any performance statistics but we know the techs – a 4.0-litre twin turbo derived from the 720S that churns out 789 bhp and 590 lb-ft. from a 1198 kg car.
The money is on a sub-3 second 0-60 and a standing quarter mile nearing the Bugatti Veyron’s 9.7 seconds.
“To make it as fast as we can around a track, but still road legal,” says Andy Palmer, line director for the McLaren Ultimate Series as he discusses where the design team’s priorities lay, “It’s our fastest car, comparable to a P1 around a lap.”
A lot of this has to do with how McLaren have opted for weight savings in everybody component. Most commonly quoted is the difference between the front fenders of the Senna and the 720S – the new hypercar has carbon fibre ones that weigh just 650 grams each, whereas its predecessor had aluminium wings that tipped the scales at 2.2 kg each.
The Rawkus TV Take on the McLaren Senna
Personally, I think they should have gone for better aesthetics. There is no doubt that the design is efficient for its task – to go faster around a racetrack. However, there is a huge difference between the smooth, aerodynamic lines of efficient engineering design and the smooth, erotic lines of Beauty.
The Senna does display glimpses of the latter from certain angles, particularly from an oblique view of the front. From the side, though, I try to make myself love it but I'm not its mother.
I was sceptical initially, but I think I really like the inclusion of a clear panel on the side (so you can see the tarmac rush past). Owners get a carbon sheet to cover it on the days they go driving without pants.
In terms of performance, the McLaren Senna promises to blitz the field. It will also blitzkrieg your bank account at US$1 million (£750,000). Maybe I’ll just buy it second-hand.