The Senna provides the motive power in the form of a version of McLaren’s twin-turbo V8 in 4.0-litre capacity, here delivering 815PS (804bhp) backed up by 800Nm (592lb ft) of torque. As well as lightweight camshafts, con rods and pistons, the flat-plane crank V8 has been fitted with a new lightweight titanium and Inconel exhaust, complete with 3D printed exhaust trims, that not only reduces back pressure but, says McLaren, adds a crisp new soundtrack to the immersive experience of driving the Elva.
Sportscar basics mean no electric motors or hybrid gubbins here and plain old rear-wheel-drive, via a seven-speed seamless-shift gearbox. Use launch control and you can expect to hit 62mph from standstill in under three seconds and 124mph (200km/h) in 6.7 seconds – a Senna does it in 6.8. Power-weight ratio is likely to exceed 700bhp per tonne. There’s a new drift function for those without a care for the price of Pirelli P Zeroes, too.
You do not have to drive this car to appreciate that power like that, combined with McLaren’s latest word in active suspension, feel-full electro-hydraulic steering and sintered carbon ceramic brakes, is going to be awesome – especially in a machine with no windscreen roof or windows. McLaren says you can wear a helmet – or, in some markets, opt for a fixed windscreen – but there’s no great need because of the active aero built into the car, what McLaren is calling Active Air Management System (AAMS).
A system of channels, vents and vanes directs air flow over the cabin for what McLaren says is a “bubble of calm”. Central to the system is a carbon-fibre deflector at the leading edge of the bonnet outlet that raises automatically as speeds increase, rising 150mm into the airstream to create a low-pressure zone and protect the cabin from buffeting.
It is all part of what McLaren says is a holistic aero approach on the Elva that also sees complex arrangements for channelling cooling air into both the low- and high-temperature radiators, as well as an active full-width rear wing aft of the distinctive twin speedster-style buttresses on the rear bodywork. There is a deployable roll-over protection system.