The open-seater Elva is the latest addition to McLaren’s Ultimate Series, which includes the P1, Senna and Speedtail. Inspired by the distinctive McLaren-Elva M1A [Mk1] race car, the Elva has been designed to be driven on the open road – meaning in Britain, you’ll have about 3 days a year where you can take the Elva out, as it has no roof or windows – a perfect solution to managing that sensitive annual mileage…
The McLaren Elva in numbers
0-62mph – under 3 seconds
Engine – 4.0-litre Twin-turbo Charged V8
0-124mph – 6.7 seconds
399 to be built
Power – 804 bhp (Senna is 789 bhp)
Dry Weight – unconfirmed, but less than the 1328kg Senna (Elva is McLaren’s lightest model yet)
Price – Starting at £1,425,000 in the UK
What McLaren says
“McLaren continues to push the boundaries of supercar and hypercar development in pursuit of outstanding and unparalleled driving experiences for our customers …. The McLaren-Elva M1A [Mk1] and its successors are in many ways the true spiritual forerunners of today’s McLarens – superlight, mid-engined cars with the highest levels of performance and dynamic excellence.”Mike Flewitt, CEO, McLaren Automotive
The Elva is a proper open-seater designed to give owners “unparalleled driver engagement and Ultimate driving enjoyment, with the absence of roof, windscreen and windows ensuring incredibly immersive and enthralling experience. It is also the lightest road car McLaren has ever built.
“New and unique McLaren ‘blurred boundaries’ design principle sees carbon fibre bodywork wrapping into the open-air cabin as exterior flows into the interior”.‘Blurred bondaries’ is a fancy name, but the transition from exterior to interior looks great.
While there isn’t much McLaren can do about water ingress, they’ve tackled the issue of airflow into the cabin head-on. McLaren has developed an air manipulation system named AAMS (Active Air Management System). AAMS deploys automatically at higher speeds, channelling air into an opening above the front splitter, and directing high-speed air back out through a vent placed in front of the cockpit, diverting the air up and over the driver using an active carbon-fibre deflector to create a bubble of “relative” calm in the cockpit. We’ll be interested to see how this works. There are weatherproofing extras too, with the choice of a fixed screen derivative (why would you) as well as waterproof upholstery. Practicality extends to space for two helmets under the tonneau cover.
The Elva is powered by the same 4-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 that McLaren used in the Senna and the Senna GTR. It produces more power than the Senna, utilising a new quad-exit Inconel and titanium exhaust system that includes 3D-printed elements, to reduce back-pressure and therefore increase power output in conjunction with lowered charge air temperatures achieved with high-performance radiators. Expect it to sound awesome.
All that, and with less weight than the Senna (the actual dry weight remains unconfirmed), allows the Elva to hit 0-62mph in under 3 seconds, and 0-124mph in a manic 6.7 seconds (1/10th quicker than the Senna). Power is delivered to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Apart from AAMS and the trick aero (a world first, according to McLaren), technology is pretty much stock Senna. Newly developed radiator cores reduce charge air temperature and new ultra-light sintered ceramic disc brakes reduce brake disc size and hence weight and un-sprung mass (a saving of 1kg…).
Impractical? Maybe – but who cares.
Priced to compete directly with the Ferrari SP1/ SP2 Monza (500 units to be produced), the Elva will have its work cut out to compete with Ferrari’s brand, heritage and the SP’s V12 engine, but it is an intoxicating package with some clever aero trickery that should appeal to its target audience whilst offering something a little different and potentially more driveable than the Italian Barchetta.