8 ways driving the McLaren Senna makes you feel like a hero
McLaren’s newest Ultimate Series car, the track-focused, hardcore Senna is upon us. With its massive 4.0-litre V8, 789bhp, and looks to… divide opinion, it’s quite a special thing.
We’ve had a go and here are eight ways it makes you feel like an absolute hero.
Its looks have purpose
When the Senna first broke cover a lot of attention fell on its rather distinctive design. Some loved it, others were rather vocal in hating it. That’s cool, hate away if you want to. Thing is, the Senna is about function over form.
Where others have curves and sweeps and delicate little lumps aping the look of an otter’s spine or something, the Senna’s vents, curves, and wings are all there to aid downforce, aerodynamics, and cooling. Rocking up in a Senna doesn’t just show the world you’ve got a posh motor, but that you’ve got a SERIOUS one as well.
See that big ‘ol wing at the back? It’s not just for show. Combined with the rest of the aero it gives you 800kg of downforce at 155mph.
Not only that, but it acts as an airbrake when you need to scrub off some speed, flipping upwards and slowing you down like a hardcore transformer.
789bhp feels pretty substantial
It’ll come as no surprise to you that a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 with 789bhp and 590lb ft feels rather meaty. The headline figures are impressive to say the least: 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, 0-124mph in 6.8 seconds, 0-186mph in 17.5 seconds.
Those first two are on par with a P1, FYI. The way it delivers it though is mind blowing. Prod the throttle and you fly forward, give it the beans and you’re pushed back in your seat for as long as you have road to accelerate down. If you ever wanted to feel like you’ve a rocket strapped to your back… the Senna’s got you covered.
It has the best brakes this side of a racecar
The Senna’s carbon discs take seven months to make, and the time spent making them is well worth it. Pedal feel is initially a bit hard but push through and you’ll find that the car simply… stops.
Driving down the main straight at Estoril saw the Senna top 180mph, braking at the 200 metre board as hard as you can slowed the car sufficiently to make turn one with no problem. Okay, it exercises your calf a bit, but it doesn’t half make you feel like you’re in something ‘proper’.
The glass in the bottom of the doors help you place the car
One side window is for chumps, real cars have two. One for the normal day to day stuff, and a lower one for positioning yourself on the road. Okay, when you’re tonking along at 150mph you don’t necessarily want to have your eyes glued to the floor of the car, but a glance down to see the track blurring by is as cool as they come.
Also, you can see if you’ve made your apex or not. A neat touch.
The steering is incredible
You can feel everything the front of the car is doing through the ‘wheel. Every slight vibration, every lump and bump… everything courses through your fingertips. It’s not too heavy either, meaning you’re not too knackered after a heavy session on track.
You need to watch your inputs though – it’s sensitive, so using it like you would in a regular car can result in going in too hard and risking understeer. Once you’re dialled in to it though, it’s magic.
It talks to you
When you first get in the Senna you’re blown away by the drama of the thing. Carbon everywhere, lots of noise, the works. Spend a lap or two finding its (and your) limits and you’ll find that it doesn’t suffer fools, but it does warn you of mistakes before biting.
If you’re too keen mid bend or are a bit hard with your inputs it’ll let you know with a smidge of understeer. Push harder and some gentle oversteer happens. Good thing is the controls are so sensitive you can easily get it back in to check. McLaren’s built a car to learn from, and one that’ll reward you for doing so.
It's built around humans
Because you’re likely to be wearing a helmet and a HANS device while you’re driving, the Senna’s control points have been put within easy view. You can see everything you need without having to move your head too much.
Also, the door handles and start button are just ahead of the rear view mirror, which makes you feel like a fighter pilot. Too cool.