After the P1, everyone expected McLaren to fit Hybrid power trains to all it’s flagship cars, but the Senna, defying expectations, is equipped with a relatively traditional four litre, twin turbocharged V8 that produces a whopping 789 horsepower. This at first had me worried, but the electric fast 0 to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds is simply mind blowing for a conventional non-hybrid engine. The Senna hits a blistering top speed of 208 mph, at which point you will be thanking the extremely complicated active aerodynamic systems, that develops 800 kgs of downforce, for keeping you on the road.
But there are a number of supercars these days that will give you similar performance figures. So what makes the Senna special? Well, the Senna is made to go around corners like no other car before it, and that means it is light and agile. The car weighs just 1.37 tons, giving it a power to weight ratio of 574 bhp/tonne. The grip is simply sensational on the newly developed Pirelli tyres that clings to the road. There is a monstrous wing at the back that hangs from its pylons, rather than being held up that pushes the car down even more than traditional setups. It is fitted with a very smart hydraulic suspension system with interlinked dampers that absolutely makes sure to keep the body flat and level even when you corner hard. Then of course, there is the simply mind boggling way it slows down. It can come to a dead stand still from 60 mph in just a 111 ft, thanks to the next generation carbon ceramic brakes. All this assures a racing oriented handling experience, and oh boy has this all conspired together to make the car worthy of its name.
This obsessive trimming down has made the car a bit uncomfortable for long journeys. For example, the seats are just leather pads attached to a single piece of carbon, and they decided not to equip air conditioning to save 15 kgs. This kind of compulsive urge towards weight saving continues. It is not as comfortable or insulated as your everyday car, and that means you have to find a way to get used to the droning noises on long journeys. The suspension is simply amazing on the track, but makes the car feel a bit like gelatinous on the road. But does it really matter when the car looks like it does, drives the way it does, and makes you feel the way it does?
McLaren is the only company that can put Ayrton Senna’s name on a car. 35 out of the 41 Grand Prix wins, and all 3 Championship titles that Senna has to his name were done in McLaren cars. McLaren are staging the Senna as the world’s fastest road legal track car, and that is one hell of a tribute, for one hell of a racing driver.