The McLaren Senna: my thoughts

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably noticed my obnoxious thread about the recently announced McLaren Senna. I just couldn’t help it, this car is freakin’ awesome.

Named after Brazilian Formula 1 driver, Ayrton Senna, McLaren’s newest hypercar is the latest to join the prestigious McLaren Ultimate Series — a product family introduced with the P1 in 2013 that is restrained to the rarest and most extreme McLarens.

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Ayrton Senna

Being named after Ayrton Senna is a lot of pressure, but genuinely defines the Senna’s position as the ultimate McLaren street-legal track car. But why is it so much pressure to be named after some Brazilian dude? Because Ayrton Senna won three Formula One world championships for McLaren in 1988, 1990 and 1991. He is also known as one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time (insert goat emoji).

Is the Senna going to be the greatest McLaren of all time? I don’t know, competing with the F1 and the P1 might be a wee bit challenging, but we shall see.

How will the Senna compete with its sibs?

The Senna is powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, which happens to be the most powerful internal combustion engine ever put inside a McLaren road car, producing 789 bhp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Promising.

The Senna weighs in at 2,641 lbs — the P1 weighs 3,411 lbs. This makes it the lightest McLaren road car since the F1 — 2,509 lbs. One of the lightest McLarens, the most powerful combustion engine in a McLaren, what else could you want?

How about a super cool new chassis design. It will be built around the new Monocage III carbon fiber tub and according to Mclaren, the Monocage III is “a further development of the structure that underpins the McLaren 720S (Monocage II) and the strongest monocoque ever built by McLaren for a road-legal vehicle.”

McLaren’s media department said in a press release that “unsurprisingly, there are strong echoes in the new McLaren Senna of the incredibly focused philosophy behind the McLaren P1; where the latter was designed to be the best driver’s car on road and track, the ambition for the McLaren Senna is for it to be the best road-legal track car, setting a new benchmark for circuit excellence with track prowess absolutely taking precedence.”

So the P1 was meant to be the best driver’s car on road and track, and the Senna is meant to be the best street-legal track car. I’m confused, this sounds like the same thing to me. I guess they are referring to how the P1 was meant to be the best driver’s car and the Senna is just going to be a track monster that’s street-legal.

Does this mean that it is going to be similar to the P1? Well, the P1 has a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 combined with an electric motor that produces 903 hp combined. That means the Senna is 114 shy when we’re talking horsepower. But, it’s also 770 lbs lighter than the P1, so that’s reassuring.

The Senna also introduces new front and rear active aero technology.  This — what McLaren called “ground-breaking” tech — helps downforce and aero control perform to the best of its ability to ensure that the performance potential can be fully abused by macho men who can spend over $1 million on a car. So yeah, not me.

I couldn’t tell you if the Senna will beat the P1 or the F1, but it will probably beat the 720S, which was McLaren’s first car for this new generation of high-performance automobiles.

The 720S also has a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, but it only makes 720 hp. Hence the 720 in the name. Its top speed is 212 mph, which is mighty close to the P1’s top speed of 217 mph. So I can definitely see the Senna hitting above 220. I mean, I hope so. The F1’s top speed is 242.956 mph, achieved by Le Mans-winner Andy Wallace in 1998.

Compared to the 720S — with the extra 69 horses and saved 510 lbs — I’d say that the Senna has a chance to be the fastest McLaren ever. But competing with the legendary F1 will be the real test.

But, we — and when I say we, I mean obsessive car people like me — don’t even know the top speed or 0-60 mph time of the Senna, yet. Which I respect McLaren for because lately — ahem, Hennessey, ahem — automakers have been making ridiculous claims on their new hyper-cars’ top speeds and 0-60 mph times.

So, we’ll see.

What do I think about the Senna?

I always love when my favorite automakers announce new cars. It’s like Christmas. From my first impression — me drooling for about 30 minutes looking at pictures on my laptop — let’s talk about what I like and don’t like about the McLaren Senna.

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First, let’s talk taillights, because the Senna’s sibling, the P1, has some of the most beautiful taillights on any car, ever. But, personally, I’m not the biggest fan of the Senna’s. They are flat. Literal straight lines. Give me some curves McLaren!

The wing: it’s too big.

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I’m also not a fan of the side view of the car. Why? Because of the door panels. See-through door panels? Ugh. And the wing looks like it’s too close toward the middle of the car. I have nothing more to say about that.

The engine: yeah I can dig a  4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. But only 789 bhp and 590 lb-ft of torque? I still want another V-12 in a McLaren, but oh well. Other auto manufacturers are starting to pass 900 and even 1,000 hp. ‘Cmon McLaren step up the horsepower game. There’s no such thing as too much horsepower! I sound like John Hennessey.

The Monocage III: big fan. What’s better than lightweight carbon fiber chassis technology? Well, a lot of things really, but whatever. I love the 720S. It might be one of my top five favorite supercars. The Senna’s Monocage III is built off of the chassis tech that is in the 720S so I can dig.

Overall, I’m a fan of this new McLaren and I can’t wait to hear more about it.

I’m quoting one of my past posts here: “I can’t wait to see what McLaren has planned for the future.” Well, I waited, the future is here and I like it.

Follow me on Twitter @choffmand if you want to bless your timeline with my thoughts and email me: cdhoffman@mail.missouri.edu if you have any questions or comments.

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