There are three important things to know about the new McLaren Elva. One, it’s the lightest road car McLaren has ever made. Two, it has no windscreen. Three, only 399 are being built. One for most people’s fantasy garages…and the ownership of a fortunate few.
The Elva is powered by an 815hp version of McLaren’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8. Performance is beyond extraordinary; 0-100km/h (62mph) takes under three seconds; while the 0-200km/h time (0-124mph) is even quicker than the McLaren Senna at just 6.7 seconds. Absolute purity of feedback is assured thanks to the electro-hydraulic steering, while active aerodynamics, sintered carbon ceramic disc brakes and linked-hydraulic active suspension deliver a track or road drive experience like nothing else this side of a Le Mans prototype.
The original McLaren M1A was a superlight sports racing car of the 1960s, but when demand for customer cars grew too much for Bruce McLaren’s seven-strong team, he entered into partnership with Elva Cars Ltd. The McLaren-Elva M1B and M1C came from this tie-in, and it’s clear to see the inspiration they provide for the 2020 Elva, from the low, pointed, shark-like nose to its curvaceous lines, muscular rear haunches and low rear deck. Chief talking point is the absence of any windscreen or side windows; instead, McLaren’s engineering and design teams have devised an innovative Active Air Management System (AAMS) that shelters occupants by manipulating air flow to leave them in a bubble of calm air as speed increases. The Elva is the lightest road car in the McLaren line-up, thanks to its simplicity of design and the bespoke carbon fibre chassis and body.
The McLaren Elva is designed for immersive high-performance driving and not for checking up on your Facebook profile. That said, there is a Central Infotainment Screen in the cockpit (mounted on a carbon fibre arm) that replicates a typical smartphone interface by allowing the driver to flick through multiple applications on a vertical carousel. Applications include satellite navigation, McLaren Track Telemetry, rear-view camera and climate control. No audio system is fitted, though McLaren’s bespoke personalisation team can provide one if required.
The core of the McLaren Elva is a carbon fibre monocoque, developed with the world-leading composites expertise McLaren has built up since 1981. The open-top roadster does not require any additional strengthening, unlike those adapted from coupe designs or made from aluminium or steel. The lightweight carbon fibre seats are designed to support the head, shoulder and back area of occupants, and six-point harnesses can be specified for track use. A deployable protection system for the occupants is triggered within milliseconds in the unlikely event of a roll-over.
Among the selected options for the McLaren Elva is a windscreen, but the whole point of this amazing machine is the way it immerses you in the elements as you drive. The Active Air Management System directs air up and over the cockpit to create a sensation of calm in the eye of the storm, with a snarling soundtrack provided by a quad-exit exhaust crafted from Inconel and titanium. The ultimate driving sensation.