A car bearing the name of Legendary F1 driver Ayrton Senna, can only mean this is the most extreme road car McLaren has ever made. No wonder this is our car of the week.
Unlike other models in McLarens’ godly line up, the Senna is the latest in their ‘Ultimate Series’ and was built foremost to be the ultimate track weapon that you could also use legally on the road. No compromises.
The 4.0 V8 Twin Turbo M840TR engine produces 789bhp and 590lb ft of torque. Not only is it the most powerful engine McLaren has ever produced, it’s been designed to provide instantaneous throttle response, this accelerates the Senna from 0-62mph in just 2.8 seconds, a mind bending 0-124mph in 6.8 seconds and finally 0-186mph in 18.8 seconds. To put that into perspective, the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ will do 0-124mph in 8.6 seconds, 1.8 seconds is a very, very long, time at these rates of acceleration. A MK1 Austin Mini Cooper 850 would do 0-60 in around 27 seconds, that’s a drag race we’d love to see! We have a lot to be thankful for. The Senna, is savage.
Another impressive statistic that relates to handling and performance is the lightest dry weight of just 1,198kg. The lightest car McLaren has made and even lighter than the iconic F1, thanks to the Carbon fibre Monocage III structure. For comparison, the latest BMW M5 weighs 1865kg. This makes the Sennas’ power-to-weight ratio 659bhp per tonne!
As you put your foot to the floor, begins the sound of rushing air into the roof mounted snorkel above your head, breathing life into that glorious Twin Turbo V8, then exiting via the unique Titanium and Inconel (used in Jet Engines) exhaust through the ultra-low carbon fibre rear deck that enhances aerodynamic performance.
With all this power and track focused energy, it’s reassuring and impressive to note that with the Motorsport derived braking system, Senna will stop from 124mph in just 100 metres.
Using the RaceActive Chassis Control II hydraulic suspension and the active aero, McLaren have sacrificed daily usability for circuit performance. Race mode lowers the car by 39mm at the nose, restricting airflow under the car and by utilising front active flaps and the swan neck rear wing Senna creates 800kg of down force.
Many opinions circulated when the Senna was unveiled, one of which was that the front half of the car, didn’t match the rear. This was deliberate because McLaren used a form-follows-function approach which means that every aspect of the vehicle, the design was created due to the function that was needed and ultimate function is what this car is about. From stripping out unneeded luxuries, tuning the chassis, suspension, engine for circuit work and introducing lower door visibility so you can get the perfect line through corners, it’s as focused as the man himself.
Ayrton Senna was an incredibly impassioned and focused individual, so McLarens designers and engineers used this approach with the car, one such aspect to mention is once the target weight was met from the original proposals, a further 5% reduction was then undertaken to mirror Arytons single-minded focus in the quest to build the most ultimate road legal track car.
500 Senna’s are being made, 500 all spoken for. Each taking around 300 hours to be hand assembled at the McLaren production centre in England. New, £750,000 in the UK. Who knows what they’ll be worth by collectors and enthusiasts on the used market.