Alex Ingram 2019-11-13 09:00
The new McLaren Elva speedster joins the Senna and Speedtail in the brand’s Ultimate Series line-up and is limited to just 399 units
It completes the trio of the brand’s current Ultimate Series models, each of which is designed with a specific purpose. While the Senna’s aim is to lap race tracks at the fastest speed possible, and the Speedtail's is to cover continents at unrivalled speed and comfort, the Elva is all about delivering peak driving enjoyment.
The name originates from the McLaren-Elva M1A; a Bruce McLaren-designed racing car that competed to Group 7 regulations in international motorsport in the 1960s and ‘70s. The Elva’s design is a nod to that car, too: The sleek shape features exaggerated curved wheelarches and enlarged air inlets just behind the cockpit.
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Like the racer, there’s no roof, windscreen or side windows. There are, however, a tiny pair of doors to ease access. To avoid buffetting at speed, the Elva uses a retractable wind deflector that channels air from the front air dam, through the clamshell bonnet and over the heads of the occupants. But if you prefer having a little extra protection from the elements, McLaren will offer a conventional screen, too.
Lacking any obvious break from inside to out, many of the carbon fibre body panels flow seamlessly into the car’s cockpit. The front clamshell blends into the top of the dashboard, while the panel between the rear buttresses drops down between the seats into the centre console.
The seats themselves are constructed from carbon fibre, and can be trimmed in a waterproofed leather, while the instrument panel moves with the adjustable steering wheel to give the driver an optimum view. McLaren’s usual portrait-oriented touchscreen infotainment system sits in the centre of the dash, while a digital instrument panel displays the important driving functions. In order to trim further kilos, a sound system is only optional.
As with every other current McLaren, the Elva features a mid-mounted turbocharged V8 engine. The 4.0-litre unit is closely related to the Senna, but at 804bhp, the Elva makes 15bhp more; a result of a combination of improved cooling and a new lightweight exhaust system crafted from Inconel and titanium. Drive is transmitted to the rear wheels through a seven-speed semi-automatic transmission.
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The result is a 0-62mph time of less than three seconds, and at 6.7 seconds, the 0-124mph time undercuts the Senna’s by a tenth.
The Elva features McLaren’s carbon-composite tub, hydraulic active suspension and carbon-ceramic brake discs. While its official weight is still to be certified, McLaren says it’ll be the lightest modern McLaren.
Like the other Ultimate Series McLarens, production numbers will be limited. Just 399 are to be produced, making it slightly rarer than the Senna (500 units) but available in greater numbers than the 106-run of Speedtails.
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Associated Advanced Gallery New 804bhp McLaren Elva focuses on driving enjoyment – pictures