WOKING, ENGLAND - If you’re looking for an enthralling driving experience that includes full exposure to the elements then McLaren has just the car for you... that’s if you have the equivalent of R23.7 million lying around.

The British sports car specialist has revived the Elva name for its new open-cockpit roadster, which dates back to the 1960s, and thanks to a unique carbon fibre chassis and body, it also happens to be the lightest road car that McLaren has ever made.

But the big point of interest for many will be the truly open air experience - there’s no roof, windows or even a windscreen, although buyers can order the latter as an optional extra. 

Engineers have at least tried to mitigate this extreme exposure to the elements, through an Active Air Management system that aims to shelter occupants by manipulating the air flow around them - and this happens without spoiling their connection to the elements, McLaren insists.

But it remains to be seen just how effective all of that is going to be when you flatten the accelerator pedal. 

Of interest here is a 4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine that produces a wholesome 600kW and 800Nm. 100km/h comes up in under three seconds, McLaren claims, while getting to 200km/h takes a mere 6.7 seconds, making it quicker than even the McLaren Senna. And because you’re going to be hearing it in all its glory, engineers have concocted an innovative Iconel and titanium quad-exhaust system that was specifically designed to deliver a unique soundtrack.

Of course, you can tell this car cheats corners just by looking at it, but just to give it an extra edge, McLaren has given it an advanced linked-hydraulic active suspension as well as an active aerodynamics system, while the electro-hydraulic steering was designed to provide the “purest feedback” possible.

But what happens when the beautifully crafted cabin gets rained on? McLaren claims the materials have been developed to meet the requirements of an open-cockpit car, and there are plenty of ways to individualise it too. 

“McLaren continues to push the boundaries of supercar and hypercar development in pursuit of outstanding and unparalleled driving experiences for our customers and the McLaren Elva epitomises that pioneering spirit,” says McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt.

“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.

“It’s fitting that the new McLaren Ultimate Series roadster – a uniquely modern car that delivers the ultimate connection between driver, car and the elements and with that new heights of driving pleasure on road or track – acknowledges our rich heritage with the Elva name.”

McLaren will make just 399 of these at £1 425 000 apiece (which is R23.7 million at today’s exchange rate), although the final price will depend on the level of personalisation that the customer opts for.

IOL Motoring