Woking, England - McLaren has just unleashed its most extreme road car ever, and it’s named after none other than the late, great Ayrton Senna, who won three F1 championships for McLaren before his untimely death in 1994.

McLaren refers to it as a track-focused hypercar that’s been “legalised for road use, but not sanitised to suit it”.

Thanks to its carbon fibre body panels and Monocage III chassis and, the Senna weighs little more than a mid-range VW Golf, at 1198kg. 

The hypercar is powered by a mid-mounted 4-litre twin-turbo V8 that produces 588kW and 800Nm and that makes for an astounding power to weight ratio of 491kW per tonne.

All this urge goes to the rear wheels only via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Furthermore the braking system, which features carbon ceramic discs as standard, is said to be the most advanced ever fitted to a McLaren road car. 

Though this is not going to go down as the prettiest hypercar ever, and that’s being kind, McLaren readily admits that the Senna’s exterior design was purposefully fragmented in order to optimise performance and aerodynamics. 

On that subject, the hypercar ushers in a new generation of front and rear active aerodynamic systems, said to raise downforce and aero controls to an “unprecedented level”. The Senna also sports a particularly huge double diffuser at the rear, which begins beneath the rear axle and creates a low-pressure zone to keep the tail hugging the tarmac.

The Senna rides on a race-derived double-wishbone suspension system that features hydraulically interconnected adaptive dampers and a hydraulic replacement for anti-roll bars. 

Despite its uncompromising nature, the Senna still offers three drive modes for the chassis, as well as the engine and gearbox, namely Comfort, Sport and Track.

The minimalist cabin makes generous use of exposed carbon fibre panels, and in fact the only soft bits inside are the seats, which can be upholstered in leather or Alcantara. All relevant information is displayed on either the Folding Driver Display and central infotainment screen. There is seating for two, but storage space inside this extreme McLaren is almost non-existent.

McLaren will produce just 500 of these hypercars, all hand-assembled in Woking, and production is set to commence in the third quarter of 2018. UK pricing starts at a cool £750 000 (R13.7m).

IOL Motoring