McLaren’s newest model in its “Ultimate Series” line of cars, the Senna, saw the light of day mid-December, shaking up the industry with its outrageous looks and 789-horsepower 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine.
The car is named after famous Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, and that’s because it’s basically a track car with a licence plate on it. You can drive the mid-engined rear-wheel-drive Senna on city streets, sure, but it was designed to deliver “the purest connection between driver and car,” to be barely road-legal, to shave seconds off lap times—not to make trips to the corner store.
Carbon-fibre body panels and a 2,641-lb curb weight makes it the lightest McLaren road car since the iconic F1, and, juxtaposed with that horsepower number, make it a guarantee this is going to be one quick car. McLaren has not yet made public any performance numbers, though; you’ll have to wait for the new year for that.
In the meantime you can pass judgment on the cars appearance, which is strictly a form-following-function affair—every line on the car is designed either for aerodynamics or for cooling purposes. A double rear diffuser and active aero pieces front and rear underscore how serious the Senna is about speed, with a shrink-wrapped-style teardrop-shaped body with fenders, spoilers, and stabilizers essentially just hung off of it.
The person at the controls will find themselves surrounded by a severely stripped-down cabin, with leather or Alcantara on the seats, sure, but really no other trim to speak of. The doors’ exposed gas struts and an optional lower door window complement a three-spoke steering wheel surprisingly free of buttons or switches.
And the automaker admits like its streetability, accommodations for the right-seat passenger are basically a deliberately compromised afterthought, not to mention the luggage space: there’s room behind the driver for two helmets and race suits, nothing else.
The 2018 Senna will retail for the equivalent of about $1.3 million Canadian, but if you were hoping to get your hands on one of the 500 examples to be built, they’re unfortunately all sold out. The car will makes its public debut in March 2018 at the Geneva auto show and deliveries will begin later that autumn.
If the Senna somehow still feels not quite hardcore enough for you, a track-only GTR race version some 100-plus pounds lighter is in the works.
And if it’s a little too hardcore, before the end of 2018 we’ll see McLaren’s next, more road-friendly Ultimate car, codenamed BP23, a three-seat grand tourer designed as a throwback to the F1. That Bugatti-Chiron-rivalling machine won’t cut a lap as quick as the Senna, but will be faster in a straight line and cost about twice as much.