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The McLaren Senna – Ripping Up The Rulebook


I love McLaren. There. I said it.

I not only love their suggestive styling and their dominating performance, but I love the fact that this small British company took the idea of the supercar and altered our entire manner of thinking about it. For once we could see out of the damn things, we could drive around town at low speeds without consequence, and we wouldn’t arrive home with a compressed spinal column.

I’ve often wondered if this has had a negative effect on the supercar, though. Has this pacified the breed? Sanitised it? Look back at McLaren’s history and these questions are promptly answered. Of course not.

The F1 is, arguably, the greatest analogue supercar of all time. The 12C, a supercar with possibly the worst case of bipolar disorder, ever. And the P1, the greatest push in supercar evolution since the Miura, alongside the 918 and LaFerrari (above).

Their latest car has a lot to live up to, then. Not to mention they’ve named it after one of the most legendary racing drivers of all time, Ayrton Senna.

The McLaren Senna (above) is designed to be the fastest track car on the market. And the Senna name is no marketing gimmick, either. Ayrton’s nephew, Bruno Senna, has been involved in the development of the car since its conceptualisation, and with each sale, a donation will be made to the Senna Foundation.

But you want to hear the numbers, don’t you? 789bhp, 590lb ft, and 1198kg dry weight. Some more scary numbers for you: 0-62mph in 2.8-seconds, 124mph in only 6.8-seconds, and 186mph in a spine tingling 17.5-seconds. Those are remarkable numbers and not possible without its twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 – note the lacking of electric motors – but the magic of this car is found in the aerodynamics.

At 155mph, it produces 800kg of downforce. That’s more than any McLaren yet, and it’s all thanks to those not-so-attractive fins, dips and protrusions. The wing alone can produce 500kg and is constantly on the move to increase downforce and decrease drag when you need it. Intelligent fins at the front angle themselves to match the rear as to maintain aerodynamic balance from front to back, too.

McLaren ensures us that you can’t follow one styling line from the front to the rear without passing over a functional intake or vent. Maybe that’s why the exterior design seems so disjointed, but this is purely a function over form race car.

It’s the kind of car you see on the grid of the Le Mans, not parked between Bentleys and Range Rovers at Knightsbridge – I say that now.

There is a lot to love about the Senna. Again, McLaren has shown that they still maintain performance dominance. But more than anything, I love the way they’ve taken the idea of what we think McLaren is – a well-mannered supercar manufacturer – and produced a raucous, unfriendly, boisterous track car.

I even like the way it looks. There. I said it.

Alex Harrington

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