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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Exhausting? Why you don’t need comedy tail pipes in a McLaren 540C

If you’ve never driven a supercar the odd thing is that sometimes the impression of speed is not as great as you might have anticipated.

I’ve often wondered why this is – then I realised it’s because these cars are so good, so competent that you just don’t realise how fast you are travelling.

Maybe that’s why accoustic exhaust systems have become regular fit on so many models. They create the drama that feels like it is missing!

Th McLaren doesn’t have a screaming exhaust button and it’s all the better for it. The 540C is the cheapest car in their stable but it’s perhaps the most usable on an everyday basis.

I think I could have given my granny the keys to a 540C and she wouldn’t have felt intimidated.

You just need a bit more time inside the cabin to work out how everything works because that side of the McLaren does take some getting used to…

McLaren 540C – lets enjoy V8s while we still can…

Bad news usually comes in threes. Except when a friend announces he has cancer and it feels like the whole world has caved in.

I’ve been scrabbling around for words – what do you say to somebody who is younger than you and suffering like that?

That was yesterday. After kicking it around in my head for 24 hours I’ve decided the best way to cheer him up is to look forward and try and be as strong as he is.

So today, I’m going to buy him a fat, Havana cigar (he has one or two a year max) and take him for an outrageously fast drive in a McLaren.

I’m not sure either are that good for your health but WTF. According to Volvo, it sounds like V8s won’t be around much longer either.

Let’s enjoy them and life while we can…

The McLaren 650S belongs on the racetrack and not the road

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June 7 I didn’t appreciate how loud the 650S could be – until I watched it disappear down the driveway.

Even with the roof open, or the rear screen lowered, you don’t get the full blast of the McLaren exhausts like those stood behind it.

No wonder I’ve attracted so much attention. It makes the acoustic exhaust systems of Porsche, Bentley and even Maserati sound weedy by comparison.

Obviously, I’ll miss the McLaren but I should say this. It’s such an outrageous spectacle that I wonder what place it has on our roads.

After driving the 650S for five days I realised there are very few places you can enjoy half the power and performance it has on tap.

For that reason, I think it belongs on the racetrack and not on a British A road…