Woking, Surrey - Much like the motorsport icon for whom it is named, the new McLaren Senna, set to premiere at the Geneva Motor in less than a week, is all about performance.
It’s street-legal (just) but hasn’t been sanitised for the road; it has been designed from the ground up for track days and Sunday morning hooning so, if that compromises its comfort levels or its suitability as a daily driver, well, you knew what you were getting into when you signed on the dotted line.
Just 500 examples will be hand-built at the McLaren production centre in Woking, in a process that takes close to 300 hours for each car - which is why they cost a cool £750 000 (R12.2 million) each - and yes, they’re all spoken for.
But wait, as they say, there’s more
The designers at bespoke division McLaren Special Operations have created five visual packages (‘themes’ in MSOspeak) - each of which adds another £300 000 (R4.88 million) to the base price - so that you can bling up your Senna without compromising its performance.
The first of these - and this is how the show car for Geneva has been finished - is the Carbon Therme, which is exactly what its name implies. All 67 of the exterior body body parts have been individually laid by hand so the the carbon-fibre mat is perfectly even and wrinkle-free, and then finished in clear lacquer so that the entire car is wrapped in a perfect weave.
To do this for a crash helmet or a motorcycle fairing is a exercise in skill and patience; to do it for a whole car takes almost 1000 hours of exacting detail work.
Under the clear coat, however, there’s a bright yellow layer on the sill rockers, the rear wing and the front active aero blades, and behind the wheels the brake callipers are finished in green, echoing Ayrton Senna’s signature helmet colours.
The green and yellow palette is carried through to the interior, with door gas struts in green and contrast stitching in yellow on the black alcantara trim of the seats, door panels and dashboard, and a yellow leather centre band on the alcantara-trimmed steering wheel.
There’s a Senna ‘S’ on each head restraint, and the same logo is repeated in satin clear-finished carbon fibre, inset into the gloss-finished end plates of the rear wing, and in a complete Senna brand over the front left wheel-arch.
And this is how it rolls
The show car will also introduce a new McLaren Senna wheel option - a clear-finished MSO carbon-fibre rim with centre-locked forged aluminium hub and spokes in either diamond-cut or stealth finish. At 7.5 kilograms (without the tyre) it’s about 10 percent lighter than the standard alloy wheel.
The reduction in unsprung weight improves road-holding but, because the weight reduction is at the rim, it also reduces rotational inertia by 10-15 percent, improving acceleration, braking and steering responses.
And finally, the centre lock wheel nuts of the show car are specially satin-finished in red for the left and blue for the right side of the car - a common racing practice to differentiate them because the left-side nuts are left-hand threaded, while the right side nuts are standard right-hand thread, so that the forward motion of the wheels will tend to tighten, rather than loosen them.
However, that means the nuts are not interchangeable, hence the colour coding.