- The newest member of McLaren's Ultimate Series is the Elva.
- It has a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 engine with 804 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque.
- 399 units will be produced in total, and pricing starts at $1.69 million for the U.S.
Every McLaren since the MP4-12C uses a carbon-fiber monocoque, and most are significantly lighter than their direct rivals. But the new McLaren Elva, seen here for the first time, is set to take the minimalist cause even further by doing without a roof and—in most places—even a windshield.
The name probably won’t be familiar, but it refers to the range of McLaren-Elva sports cars that were developed from the Can-Am cars that McLaren raced with huge success in the late 1960s. The Elva will be a member of McLaren’s Ultimate Series, the same exclusive club that has given us the Senna, Speedtail and P1. McLaren claims it will be capable of getting from zero to 62 mph in under three seconds (we would be very surprised if it could not), and McLaren promises a 6.7-second run from zero to 124 mph, making it around a tenth quicker than the Senna's official time for the same test. (We recorded a fractionally slower 6.7-second 0-120mph in the Senna when we tested it.) Regardless, the Elva will be one of the quickest cars in the world.
Power comes from a new version of McLaren’s 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 that produces 804 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. This engine routes through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and the Elva is rear-wheel drive. We don’t have a final power-to-weight ratio, but McLaren promises that the Elva will be weigh less than the Senna and be the lightest McLaren Automotive road car ever. (This careful form of words suggests it might not be lighter than the 2579-lb McLaren F1, which was built before the modern company was founded.)
Despite the lack of a windshield, the Elva will still screen its occupants from airflow using what is described as an Active Air Management System. This collects high-pressure air at the front of the car and then channels it over the front clamshell and over the cockpit to create—as the official release puts it—“a relative bubble of calm.” We suspect the word “relative” will be the important one here. When active, a deflector at the leading edge of the hood rises 5.9 inches to create a low-pressure zone for this vent to operate. The system works automatically as speed rises but can also be turned off manually for drivers wanting to experience the full effect of a 200 mph airflow.
McLaren is also offering the option of a fixed windscreen, both for those who want to miss the point, but also for parts of the world that require one. McLaren says that includes several spoilsport U.S. states, although the car will be federally homologated for sale throughout the country.
Although it's not deployed in the official images, there is also a full-width rear spoiler that rises at speed and can adjust both its height and angle to optimize aerodynamic balance while also working as an air brake at higher speeds. There is also a completely flat underside and a rear diffuser. McLaren hasn’t released any downforce numbers for the car yet, but we can safely anticipate it will have a substantial amount of aero-enhanced grip.
McLaren’s design team put effort into ensuring the Elva’s minimal bodywork looks good, too. The curves are broken up by a minimum of details and distractions, most of which are there for valid aerodynamic reasons. Practicality is limited, although the compartment under the rear tonneau cover has room for a pair of helmets.
The interior is similarly lacking in adornment, with a single central display screen, digital instruments, and tight-fitting seats. Floor mats will be an option, and buyers seeking to minimize weight will be offered a non-stick coating instead. The Elva does not have a standard audio system but McLaren will offer a no-cost system using “speakers developed for maritime applications and suited to outside use.” It still seems unlikely you’ll be able to hear much in the cockpit beyond wind noise and your own squealing.
The Elva also shares much technology with other McLarens, including the hydraulically linked anti-roll suspension of the 720S, different Comfort, Sport and Track modes for both powertrain and chassis variable settings, and even Variable Drift Control. Brakes are closely related to those in the Senna, using what are described as sintered carbon-ceramic brakes which are stronger and have better thermal transmission characteristics than regular carbon-ceramics, and can therefore be made smaller and lighter.
McLaren says it will only produce 399 Elvas for all markets, with U.S. pricing starting at $1.69 million. It will be possible to pay considerably more than that—McLaren’s MSO Division will offer buyers the chance to customize their cars further with details like gold or platinum badges or even a 24 carat gold heat shield for the engine bay. That really does sound like gilding the lily.
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