McLaren has previewed the Senna, the ultimate track-concentrated car for the road. Legalized for road use, the new McLaren Senna pays tribute to the late Ayrton Senna.
The McLaren Senna comprises of ultra-lightweight construction, with carbon fiber chassis and body panels. The rear-wheel supercar has a mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged V8 McLaren engine. Its chassis is made of carbon fiber Monocage III that forms the core of the McLaren Senna, based on the McLaren 720S. With the ultimate lightweight in mind, the Senna is considered the lightest road-legal McLaren since the iconic F1 road car, at just 1,198kg.
Visually, the McLaren Senna shocks. The first impression is of an aggressive machine, organic shapes having given way to a design language that is purposely fragmented in pursuit of absolute performance. With downforce and aerodynamic balance the guiding principles, this car is the purest expression yet of the ‘form follows function’ design philosophy embraced by McLaren.
Viewed from above, the body is nature’s most efficient shape, with body components ‘clipped’ onto the cabin to deliver optimal aerodynamic performance. McLaren’s designers went to extremes by cutting open the ‘shrink-wrapped’ body to reduce weight visually and functionally; while recognizably a McLaren in proportional terms, check out the single line from the front to the rear, through a functional air intake or vent.
The McLaren Senna introduces a new generation of ground-breaking front and rear active aerodynamics, raising downforce and aero control to an unprecedented level to ensure the performance potential can be fully exploited.
From the front splitter to the double diffuser at the rear, has been developed to optimise downforce and aerodynamic balance, whether under braking, adjusting the throttle mid corner, or applying power on corner exit. There is also an opportunity for added visual drama, with the front aero blades available finished in one of five ‘By McLaren’ theme specifications that include Azura Blue and McLaren Orange. The same linked accent color can also feature on the brake calipers, visible door gas struts and seat trims. Various highlights include rear clamshell, prominent ‘gurney’ flaps ahead of a succession of stepped louvres, a double element rear wing, slim rear LEDs, and the ‘slash cut’ finishers of the unique Inconel and titanium exhaust exit through the lowest rear deck.
McLaren Senna: A race-oriented setup
Inside, the depths of connection with the new Ultimate Series car will be experienced in full once in the driver’s seat and on a circuit, but the intimate relationship with the McLaren Senna begins before that, simply by entering the car. McLaren F1-inspired dihedral doors hinge forwards and upwards, opening with a portion of the roof to expose noticeably low sills and an aperture of sufficient size for drivers or passengers to easily enter or leave the cockpit, even when wearing a helmet and a race suit.
The doors, which are constructed of carbon fiber, feature two-piece glass side windows with a fixed top part and a smaller opening section below. Both the door upper (effectively part of the roof) and the lower half of the door side can be specified with glass as a replacement for the carbon fiber panels that are standard-fit. The cockpit environment reflects the stripped-back, functional nature that is evident in every aspect of the McLaren Senna. Furthermore, driver controls have been deliberately kept to a minimum to reduce ‘cockpit clutter’ and the three-spoke steering wheel is free of buttons and switches, creating a pure focus on sensory feedback. All the information the driver needs comes from the high-definition McLaren Folding Driver Display and central infotainment screen. Storage space, however, is restricted to a chamber behind the seats integral to the Monocage III with just enough room for two helmets and race suits.
With maximum power of 800PS (789bhp), the McLaren Senna enjoys a power-to-weight ratio of 668PS per tonne. Its 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine is the most powerful road car internal combustion engine ever created by McLaren, producing 789bhp and torque of 800Nm. A dual-clutch, seamless-shift, seven-speed gearbox delivers power to the rear wheels. Meantime, a fully automatic mode is the default, with the driver able to choose full manual control of gear shifts via paddles mounted on a rocker behind the steering.
The character of the 4.0-liter twin-turbo McLaren V8 and the transmission can be tailored using the Active Dynamics Panel, with the driver having a choice of Comfort, Sport or Track powertrain modes.
McLaren Senna: RaceActive Chassis Control
RaceActive Chassis Control II (RCC II) hydraulic suspension works in harmony with front and rear active aerodynamics and the ultra-rigid Monocage III to deliver an incredibly intensive experience on a circuit. RCC II is a double-wishbone suspension system that additionally features hydraulically interconnected dampers and a hydraulic replacement for conventional mechanical anti-roll bars. It also further develops the variable stiffness and ride height technology first seen in the pioneering hydraulic system in the McLaren P1.
The adaptive dampers are interconnected hydraulically, both left to right and front to back, with two valves per damper to independently adjust for compression and rebound. The stiffness of the McLaren Senna is separately controlled using a kinetic roll system, or K-damper. The continuously variable RCC II system advances the control strategy introduced on the McLaren 720S and also adds a Race mode, which introduces a lower ride height, lower center of gravity and significantly stiffer suspension.
The braking system of the McLaren Senna is the most advanced ever fitted to a McLaren road car, using carbon ceramic discs and motorsport technologies to deliver extreme performance. Tyre choice is equally focused, with bespoke Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres developed in conjunction with McLaren technical partner, Pirelli.
Only 500 units of the McLaren Senna will be made available, with price starting from £750,000 pounds. The McLaren Senna is scheduled for debut in March 2018 at the Geneva Motor Show.