A more detailed look at the McLaren Senna

A more detailed look at the McLaren Senna

It is unquestionable that McLaren have once again produced a
masterpiece with the astounding McLaren Senna.
Paying homage to three-time Formula One World Championship
winner and motorsports legend, the late Ayrton Senna, this carbon fibre
hypercar certainly lives up to its name.

What is the McLaren Senna?

The McLaren Senna is a new addition to the company’s
Ultimate Series range, sporting a 4.0 litre twin turbo V8 engine with 789bhp,
which helps the super car go from 0 to 60 in just 2.8 seconds.

The Senna is a track-focused road car with a seven-speed
twin-clutch gearbox that encapsulates engineering brilliance and personifies
McLaren’s identity at its most extreme, providing the ultimate driver
Yes, McLaren’s masterminds have somehow found a way to make
this beast entirely road legal.
How fast is the McLaren Senna? It can reach a top speed of a
rapid 208mph. However, despite being quick, it’s not necessarily this that sets
it apart from the rest.
Built primarily to create the most intense track driving
experience possible, the beauty of the Senna is that you can tear up on the
track and then drive home in it later.
Of course, you’re not expected to hit its top speed on the
way to your local store, but there are plenty of race tracks that will welcome you
with open arms if you arrive in this head-turner.
Although they share similarities, it is not to be confused
with the track-only McLaren Senna GTR, which is not road legal.

Senna Vs the P1

The Senna is faster around a track than its Ultimate Series
counterpart, the McLaren P1, due to an impressive 800kg of downforce at 155mph.
The P1 and Senna are near enough identical in a straight line, until the 186mph
mark, where the P1 does take a one second advantage.

 Despite their similarity,
the Senna has more power per tonne (659bhp vs 647bhp of the P1) and is faster
around the track due to the astonishing attention to detail that increases its
grip and aero.

Who is Ayrton Senna?

The inspiration behind the car is Ayrton Senna, who won
World Championships for McLaren in 1988, 1990 and 1991 before a crash led to
him losing his life at just 34-years-old.
Although Senna himself is considered an idol by many, he is
quoted as saying – “I have no idols. I admire work, dedication and competence”
– and it evidently took an abundance of all three qualities to produce the
supercar that is fittingly named in his honour.

Aesthetics and Design

What does the Senna look like? It basically looks how a
supercar should look.
It may not be the best looking car McLaren has ever
produced, but that was not its purpose. That being said, it’s far from an
unpleasant car to look at and will absolutely turn heads for the right reasons.

McLaren themselves labelled the design “aggressive” and the
extraordinary performance seems to have been at the forefront of their
designers’ minds, with aesthetics taking the back seat on this occasion.

Staying true to their “form follows function” mantra,
McLaren designed the Senna with performance and acceleration targets in mind, focusing
on aerodynamics to maximise its quality on the track.
At first sight, the purpose-built track specialist looks
notably wide and low, largely due to the prominent rear wing with layered
slats. This wing, though an eye-catching feature, was not included for
decorative reasons, but to aid the balance between the drag and the


The Senna is the fastest McLaren road car ever around a
racetrack. Along with the revolutionary RaceActive Chassis Control II, the
Senna includes an abundance of technology that co-works to make the hypercar as
fast as it is, including the drag reduction system (DRS).
The DRS is essentially the adjustable rear wing, which is
hydraulically controlled and continually adapts to cater to the driving
situation, reducing aerodynamic drag in order to increase the top speed. It is
used in Formula One to facilitate and promote overtaking, once again outlining
the track-focused design.

The Senna does not include conventional springs and
anti-roll bars, but new hydraulic gas-filled accumulators that do a great job
in resisting roll. As with most features of this car, these accumulators also
improve aerodynamics by keeping the body as level as possible. 

McLaren Senna Specs 

McLaren’s focus was weight rather than power, with the Senna
weighing in at an agile 2,641lbs without fluids.
If you want to drive it rather than just look at it, you’ll obviously
need some fluids and fuel, which takes the driving weight to around 2,866lbs.
Any unnecessary weight has been systematically omitted, and
its features are as light as possible. The front wings weigh a mere 1lb each,
and the rear wing – which can support up to 100 times its own weight – weighs just

Door mechanisms have also been updated from the heavier
mechanical releases to more modern electrical ones, subsequently decreasing their
weight by 20% and allowing optimum track performance.

The Senna’s seats 

The car’s carbon seat shells are just 3.35kg each and the
gear selector panel is fixed to the driver’s seat, moving fore and aft with it
for a fixed reach.
Behind the driver’s seat there is storage room for two crash
helmets and race suits, reiterating the minimalistic design centred on track
racing. The seats are designed to maximise airflow around the driver’s back,
which comes in handy when it gets pretty warm during track laps.

McLaren themselves like the unique carbon fibre seats so much
that new models, including the McLaren 600 LT, are fitted with them. 

Reliability and Running Costs

Despite being road legal, the Senna may not be the cheapest
McLaren to run on a day-to-day basis. Not that the typical owner of it will
worry too much about the costs, but with nearly 800bhp and 800Nm of torque,
it’s not expected to be cheap to run.
It comes to no surprise that it sinks a lot of fuel when
driven hard, but the Senna offers quite a reasonable 22.8MPG and 280g/km CO2.
The McLaren P1, for example, is far more environmentally
friendly than the Senna due to its hybrid engine, but causes nowhere near as
much havoc on the track.

The Feel

The twin-clutch paddle gearbox located behind the steering
wheel provides a comfortable and effortless drive wherever you are, but due to
its track-focused nature, the Senna may not travel as fluidly on roads as your
average car.
As we know, the track is where the Senna feels at home. On
the circuit, Track and Race mode can be activated for quicker gear shifts,
allowing you to get the most out of this car.
Peace of mind is provided by four high-class Pirelli Trofeo
R tires as they keep you steady as you speed through the corners, maintaining
as much speed as possible.
At higher speeds, the carbon ceramic breaks and rear ring
work simultaneously to bring the Senna to a stop from speeds of around 140mph
in under 200metres.
While it isn’t at its best on the road, the progressive
oversteer proves useful for day-to-day driving and breaking on corners.

Adjustable Track

Don’t mistake the Senna’s aggression for unpleasantness.
Reacting to every move made by its driver, the Senna is
incredibly responsive, but it may take some time to become accustomed to the
feel of the car. Steering is immaculate and the chassis adapts as and when required,
allowing you to corner with ease. 

Its handling is refined by the RaceActive Chassis Control 2,
using adaptive dampers which are programmed to react to movements within two
milliseconds. Cornering is consequently improved as the dampers tighten in Race
mode and lower the height of the car.

No stone was left unturned in the construction of the Senna
and its highly complex algorithms mean that track performance is fine-tuned by
its ability to adapt quickly to changing situations.
You’re obviously going to pick up some speed in this
hypercar, so safety precautions – including the gas-filled accumulators – are
in place to help ensure that you don’t roll or spin out of corners too often.
Should you break heavily or abruptly, the rear wing is also
raised and helps bring the car to a smooth stop.

The McLaren Senna’s Stylish Interior

Firstly, it’s probably worth mentioning that the
aforementioned lightweight doors open upwards, as all real supercars should.
On the inside, the modern carbon shelled seats – which can
be bought in two sizes to suit the driver’s needs – curve slightly to provide a
satisfactory level of comfort while cruising or on the track.
Quite a unique and quirky feature, the optional glazed door
area allows you to view the road surface from your seat while driving,
undeniably increasing the intense sensation and driving experience.
If you really do want to do the school run in the Senna, an
added fixed passenger seat can be installed, as can a drinks holder. It’s
probably not wise to take your coffee out on the track with you, though.
The layout controls and rising dashboard display complete
this contemporary style, offering drivers an authentic supercar experience at
the wheel.

McLaren Track
Telemetry app

The flashy dash display contains an app that interacts with various
on-board cameras to record data from your race laps, allowing you to analyse
your performance or just to show off to the family.

Can You Still Buy the McLaren Senna and
How Much Does it Cost?

Only 500 Senna models were made available for purchase, all
starting from just under $1million.
All of which were snapped up in no time, meaning that the Senna
is currently not up for sale, but keep your eyes peeled and your cash ready as
second-hand cars could be available in the near future.
Bearing in mind how highly McLaren and its customers rate
the extreme hypercar, as well as its ground-breaking track performance, the Senna’s
asking price is not unreasonable for those that they are targeting.

Our Verdict

The immaculate, calculated design of the McLaren Senna makes
for an incredibly aerodynamic finish that is exhibited by its outstanding lap
Down to every ounce and every inch, McLaren succeeded in
sculpting the ultimate road-legal track car.
Ground-breaking, unique and ferocious around the track – the
McLaren Senna is an apt homage to the legendary Ayrton Senna.

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