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McLaren Senna 1 web

McLaren Automotive have introduced their new flagship track-oriented road-legal Ultimate Series car, christened ‘Senna’.

“You commit yourself to such a level where there is no compromise. You give everything you have; everything, absolutely everything.”
– Ayrton Senna

That’s how McLaren decided to begin their description of their new Ultimate Series car, earlier codenamed ‘P15’. The Senna is a tribute to famed Brazilian racing legend Ayrton Senna, who drove for the McLaren Formula 1 team, winning three world titles in 1988, ’90 and ’91, and clinching the runner-up spot in 1989. After his fatal accident in 1994, Senna went down in history as one of the greatest racers ever, with many believing he was the greatest ever. While there was a British movie documentary ‘Senna’ released in 2010, it’s what the Brits have done now that’s of even more importance.

McLaren Senna 2 web

An all-new Monocage III carbon-fibre chassis construct, carbon-fibre panels, race-derived suspension and components, driver-focussed layout, and road-legal but track-oriented characteristics make the Senna, the new Ultimate Series McLaren supercar, one of the most exciting new cars we’ve seen this year. Styling looks like an evolution of the 720S, with a lot more attitude, but that’s what it’s about. The Senna aims to break new ground in handling and driver engagement and it’s got the equipment to back it all.

For starters, with every panel made from carbon-fibre, the Senna weighs in at just 1,198 kg, without any fluids. The M840TR 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine sits in the middle at the rear. It develops 800 PS and 800 Nm. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox drives the rear wheels, and the active aerodynamics manage downforce to allow for maximum efficiency and cornering speed. With its 668 PS/tonne, it should be breathtakingly quick and extremely fast. Although, McLaren aren’t claiming any performance figures. Looking at what they’ve done, it’s akin to what Pagani did with the Zonda Revolucion. We’ll just have to wait for someone to take it to the Nürburgring and break the 6:47 barrier, then?

The structure, components, and advanced electronics all working together in perfect harmony is what it’s about. The key word McLaren use is ‘connection’. It promises to connect to the drive like no other car and deliver true performance to the limit of the driver’s ability, to borrow from what Andy Palmer (Vehicle Line Director, McLaren Ultimate Series) had to say. The RaceActive Chassis Control II (RCC II) hydraulic suspension works with the active front and rear aero and rigid Monocage III chassis for an intensive track experience. Yes, it is road-legal, but only just. McLaren have admitted to the compromise of ride quality on the road in order to provide that sort of an experience on track.

RCC II is a double-wishbone suspension system that also features hydraulically interconnected dampers and a hydraulic replacement for conventional mechanical anti-roll bars. It further develops the variable stiffness and ride height technology first seen in the hydraulic system in the 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 is separately controlled using a kinetic roll system, or K-damper. The continuously variable RCC II system also adds a Race mode, making for a lower ride height, lower centre of gravity, and significantly stiffer suspension. Other dynamic parameters may be adjusted using the Active Dynamics Panel located on the centre console to select Comfort, Sport or Track modes or via a separate switch in a roof-mounted panel to access Race mode.

McLaren Senna 4 web

The Senna gets high-performance carbon-ceramic brakes and bespoke Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R rubber mounted on only one wheel option: an ultra-lightweight alloy wheel with centre-locking wheel-nuts. The Senna is the third model to be introduced under the McLaren Track22 business plan. Only 500 of these hand-built cars will be made, each going for £750,000 (Rs 6.4 crore), all of which are already spoken for. The Senna will make its début at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

McLaren Senna 3 web

Story: Jim Gorde


About the author: Jim Gorde


Deputy Editor at Car India and Bike India.
Believes that learning never stops, and that diesel plug-in hybrids are the only feasible immediate future until hydrogen FCEVs take over.

t: @CarIndia/@BikeIndia
IG: @carindia_mag/@bikeindia/@jimbosez


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