Up close with a £1.2 million full-carbon McLaren Senna
At roughly £1.2 million, this is one of the highest spec Sennas in existence.
Walking into the Scuderia Prestige’s dealership was perhaps one of the coolest and yet weirdest experiences of my life. Let’s first talk about how you’re greeted at most dealerships: a reception desk? A seating area? Maybe a coffee machine. At Scuderia Prestige, I was greeted by a £1.2 million full-carbon Senna. Granted, there was a reception desk though it took a while from my attention to shift from the Senna to the desk.
But once it did, I mentioned how I was there to see the full-carbon Senna and then I was asked which one I wanted to see. It turns out there were - and still are - two Carbon Theme Sennas by MSO under the same roof. This is simply unheard of given MSO’s Carbon Theme accounts for just 10-15% of the 500 Sennas in existence.
In the end, I opted for the Solar Yellow example which - if we were playing Top Trumps - would be the car to pick as I soon found out.
Carbon Theme by MSO
Although customers were able to spec their Sennas as normal cars, if there is such a term for the Senna, MSO offered 5 different themes for the car - this is the Carbon Theme.
Consisting of 67 parts, the full carbon body took close to 1,000 hours to make. Moreover, the Solar Yellow accents on the car required an additional 250 hours of MSO’s time. The colour-theme of this particular example shines a light on the legendary Ayrton Senna, with the yellow accents mimicking Senna’s helmet design. The car also features Laurel Green brake callipers along with Memphis Red and Vega Blue centre locks. Combined, the green, blue and yellow forms the Brazilian flag.
Of course, all this comes for a price. The McLaren Senna is £750,000 before options however the car I was handed the key to is worth a whopping £1.2 million. According to McLaren, the Carbon Theme adds £300,000 - which is the same value as a 765lt - to the Senna’s original £750,000 price tag. Then comes the additional cost of the car’s smaller details - those coloured centre locks for instance set the owner back over £3,000.
It is one of the highest spec Sennas in existence and so it’s safe to say I was quite excited to see it.
Like with other modern McLarens, you get three buttons on the key. There’s the lock and the unlock button which is in the design of the McLaren logo. On other McLarens, the third button is used to open the boot but of course, the Senna hasn’t got a boot.
Instead of creating a new key design with two buttons, McLaren decided to keep the third button for the Senna so you can flash the lights - this is apparently in case you can’t find it in a parking lot late at night. Personally, I think that’s a rather useless feature of the Senna; it’s rather hard to miss a 7-figure hypercar.
In order to open the door, you‘ll need to locate a button hidden within a gap where the handle would usually be - pressing it grants you access to the Senna’s spaceship-like cabin. The doors themselves weigh a smudge under 10kg, half the weight of those fitted to the 720s. Because of how light they feel, the very feeling of opening the doors serves as a reminder of the Senna’s athleticism.
Looking around the cockpit once seated, everything is very McLaren-like; so much so that upon first glance, you can’t really differentiate the Senna from McLaren’s supercars. But as soon as you take in all the small details, you’ll notice how unique the Senna’s cockpit is.
For instance, the centre screen is positioned higher than most other McLarens. This is because, when wearing a helmet, a significant portion of your vision is blocked. Due to the raised position of the screen, you’ll still be able to view any necessary information as you’re racing around the track, even when wearing an obstructive helmet.
Something else which is unique to the Senna’s cockpit are the seats. Being the lightest and most track-focused seats built by McLaren, they are constructed entirely out of carbon fibre and each weigh just 3.35kg. Should you need to replace these seats, expect to pay £14,000 for another pair.
Remaining on the topic of the seats, adjusting them is done manually purely to save weight. As you move your seat back and forth, you’ll see that some of the controls move with it - this is to ensure the controls are always the same distance from the seat.
Weirdly, the Senna’s door releases aren’t actually found on the doors. Instead, you’ll need to reach up and pull a handle down from the roof to do so. Adjacent to these handles are the buttons for the Senna’s windows except they don’t really let you control them: allow me to explain. Due to the Senna’s unique window design, only the lower section of the window can be lowered. Looking further down from the window, there’s a piece of carbon fibre which is left exposed on both the inside and outside. This panel would usually be constructed of glass but the owner of this car decided to fit her car with even more carbon fibre… as if there wasn’t enough already.
Starting the Senna does not require use of its key. Instead, it has a simple start/stop button fitted to the roof of the car. Operating the button makes you feel like you’re in some sort of fighter jet rather than a car. After holding it down for a few seconds, you’ll get to hear the gorgeous sound of the Senna’s engine.
What you hear is the rumble of a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine producing 789bhp which is good for a 0-60mph of just 2.7 seconds. From then on, the Senna will continue to accelerate until it hits its top speed of 208mph. But as impressive as it is, straight-line speed isn’t the main focus of the Senna.
The rear wing of the car is easily its most prominent design feature both visually and aerodynamically. Weighing just 5kg, it can handle up to 100 times its own weight. At high speeds, it remains flat to minimise drag however during braking, the rear wing tilts at an angle of almost 90 degrees in order to bring the car to a halt as quickly as possible.
At 155mph, the Senna generates an incredible 800kg of downforce - that’s 200kg more than the P1. It is capable of producing more but past 155mph, acceleration is the priority.
Fitted to this car is a set of MSO’s 7-Spoke Hybrid Carbon Fibre Wheels. What’s special about these is that they are forged aluminium/carbon fibre components meaning each rim weighs a mere 7.5kg. This contributes to the Senna’s total dry weight of just 1,198kg. To help give an idea of just how light this is, the Senna weighs 197kg less than the P1 and 270kg less than the 720s.
All of this power, lightness and downforce means the Senna was able to lap The Grand Tour’s Eboladrome 3 seconds faster than the track-only Aston Martin Vulcan.
Should you dare to push the Senna to its limits, you’ll want to activate race mode. Doing so flips the dial cluster in favour of a smaller, less cluttered screen. In addition to this, the car lowers itself to lower its centre of gravity. At higher speed in race mode, the hydraulic suspension stiffens to minimise body-roll and maximise track performance.
To sum up the performance of the Senna, it’s a car which managed to redefine the word ‘speed’ for the McLaren brand. People across the globe were already stunned with the performance of the 720s when it debuted in May of 2017. Just 7 months later, the Senna was unveiled and it blew the 720s out of the water. Granted, it is almost three times the price of the 720s - and this particular example is close to 6 times the price of the 720s - but you can’t put a price on innovation and passion for racing.
It’s a track-focused car but then again, that’s what you would expect given its name.
At the centre of Formula One in the late 80s and early 90s was Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian is widely regarded as the best driver in F1 history. To his name, Ayrton has 80 podiums, 41 wins and three world championships. Since his passing in 1994, few drivers have managed to match his level of success.
It’s safe to say naming a car after a man as important as Ayrton would be a bit like being born into the Royal Family: you’ve got a lot to live up to.
Fortunately, the Senna does not just meet expectations but rather, it exceeds them and honours one of F1’s most recognisable figures in near perfect fashion.
Though not for sale, this car is currently present at Scuderia Prestige and is in rather nice company. For example, there’s a 1968 Bullitt Ford Mustang Fastback, a Ferrari 488 Pista Spider and another McLaren Senna Carbon Theme by MSO which is in fact for sale.
Currently listed at £759,950, I may need to write a few more articles before I can purchase the car though if you wish to buy or read more about it, you can do so by clicking here. If you’re in the market for a new car but the Senna isn’t quite what you’re looking for, click here to view the rest of Scuderia Prestige’s inventory by clicking here.