McLaren Senna – how fast do you want to go?

Even if you want one, you can’t have one. The full allocation of McLaren’s new hypercar sold out ages ago – long before the first delivery to customers start next month. The latest model in the company’s ‘Ultimate Series’ is loaded with an uprated 789bhp version of the 4.0-litre V8 that powers the remarkable 720S. Just 500 will be built, each costing £750,000 BEFORE taxes and options. 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 211mph. Just how fast do you want to go? CarCouture visits the track in Portugal where Ayrton Senna won his first grand prix to find out…

When the clock struck midnight last night, the internet was awash with embargoed reviews of the new McLaren Senna. It had to be amazing to be worthy of the Brazilian champion’s name – and it is.

Unlike the forthcoming Brabham BT62 track car, McLaren insist their machine is for the road as well. However, unless you own a large slice of England, don’t expect to enjoy the full performance of one of the world’s greatest cars.

That’s because the McLaren Senna is so fast it really needs a racetrack – and possibly a tame racing driver – to exploit its potential to anywhere near full capacity. For the rest of us, this hugely powerful McLaren is a sharp learning curve.

I recently drove McLaren’s top of the range 720S – a car that’s so easy to live with you could use it to sit the driving test. How could the Senna be that different?

Monstrous power has been squeezed from the same 4.0-litre V8 but it’s much more than that. The car codenamed BP23 relies on incredible, track-focussed technology to get it around the track faster than anything I’ve ever driven.

This isn’t a hybrid like the P1 but it is incredibly light at 1200kg. A whopping rear spoiler that outdoes anything from the 1980s also produces 800kg of downforce at 150mph. The result? The Senna feels stable and responsive at crazy speeds.

Through the corners the grip is staggering, thanks in no small part to some Senna tuned tyres. And strapped in to the cockpit with a HANS device and six point harness, the driver feels completely at one with the McLaren.

In truth, your nerve will go long before the Senna lets go. The shove in your back on the straights is quite brutal – how on earth this car could be used on the road is beyond me!

 

Ayrton Senna’s first win came at this Estoril track in a turbocharged Lotus. What you don’t need to enjoy this McLaren is quite the same level of ability…

 

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