McLaren's latest street-legal track car hits 100kmh in 2.8 seconds and will set you back by $4.5m
A car named Senna The McLaren Senna is a car which shines on the track and is not a trophy vehicle to be parked along other prized models. PHOTO: CHRIS BROWN

A company which names a car after the late F1 legend Aryton Senna is either supremely confident or utterly delusional. Which one is McLaren?

Going by numbers alone, it would seem the McLaren Senna is qualified to bear the hallowed name.
Imagine a street-legal car with 800hp that weighs less than 1.2 tonnes, accelerates to 100kmh in just 2.8 seconds and which generates 800kg of aerodynamic downforce at 250kmh.
With a body made entirely of carbon-fibre composites, the Senna is light and yet meets the latest safety and crash-test requirements.
It has a high-revving 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that churns out 800Nm from 5,500rpm, making it the McLaren with the highest power-to-weight ratio.
It reaches a top speed of 335kmh, which is relatively low when compared with the iconic McLaren F1's 391kmh.
SPECS / MCLAREN SENNA
Price: Estimated $4.5 million without COE
Engine: 3994cc 32-valve twin-turbocharged V8
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch with paddle shift
Power: 800hp at 7,250rpm
Torque: 800Nm at 5,500-6,700rpm
0-100kmh: 2.8 seconds
Top speed: 335kmh
Fuel consumption: 12.4 litres/100km
Agent: McLaren Singapore
But the Senna is not designed with top speed in mind. It is meant to perform on the race circuit, not a drag strip.
This explains why it trades aerodynamic slipperiness for sheer downforce. On a track, it is very rare for any car - including F1 racers - to exceed 320kmh. So the Senna's maximum velocity is more than enough.
The car sticks to the tarmac with its stupendous downforce. So much so that at higher speeds, its active aerodynamics bleed off excess downforce so that the car's self-adjusting hydraulic suspension and tyres do not fail.
Unfortunately, there is no opportunity to drive the Senna on the open road. There are, however, 12 hot laps at the Estoril Circuit.
McLaren clads us in Nomex racing suits, gloves, socks, shoes and even a full-face helmet complete with intercom and head restraint device.
There are points on the circuit where the Senna will exert more than 2G of force on the driver, which is double that of a car like the Volkswagen Golf GTI.
What is it like experiencing twice the earth's gravity? Well, put simply, everything becomes a lot harder to do.
Braking effort is so enormous you feel you might get a hernia. In the corners, the grip developed by the car's Pirelli Trofeo tyres in conjunction with the downforce is so extreme that you get a slight pain in your neck.
Twelve laps prove to be an extreme physical workout, but the Senna feels capable of going harder and faster.
McLaren says it is a car which shines on the track. It is not a trophy vehicle to be parked along other prized models.
Alas, only 500 units will be made and all have either been sold or allocated to dealers around the world. Four are said to be headed for Singapore from the first quarter of next year - despite its expected price tag of $4.5 million.
Does it live up to its name?
Without a doubt. The Senna is a phenomenal car with explosive acceleration, gut-wrenching grip and unrivalled handling and feel.
It may even be the quickest street-legal track machine out there.
Going by numbers alone, it would seem the McLaren Senna is qualified to bear the hallowed name.

Imagine a street-legal car with 800hp that weighs less than 1.2 tonnes, accelerates to 100kmh in just 2.8 seconds and which generates 800kg of aerodynamic downforce at 250kmh.

With a body made entirely of carbon-fibre composites, the Senna is light and yet meets the latest safety and crash-test requirements.

It has a high-revving 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that churns out 800Nm from 5,500rpm, making it the McLaren with the highest power-to-weight ratio.

It reaches a top speed of 335kmh, which is relatively low when compared with the iconic McLaren F1's 391kmh.

But the Senna is not designed with top speed in mind. It is meant to perform on the race circuit, not a drag strip.

This explains why it trades aerodynamic slipperiness for sheer downforce. On a track, it is very rare for any car - including F1 racers - to exceed 320kmh. So the Senna's maximum velocity is more than enough.

The car sticks to the tarmac with its stupendous downforce. So much so that at higher speeds, its active aerodynamics bleed off excess downforce so that the car's self-adjusting hydraulic suspension and tyres do not fail.

Unfortunately, there is no opportunity to drive the Senna on the open road. There are, however, 12 hot laps at the Estoril Circuit.

McLaren clads us in Nomex racing suits, gloves, socks, shoes and even a full-face helmet complete with intercom and head restraint device.

There are points on the circuit where the Senna will exert more than 2G of force on the driver, which is double that of a car like the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

What is it like experiencing twice the earth's gravity? Well, put simply, everything becomes a lot harder to do.

Braking effort is so enormous you feel you might get a hernia. In the corners, the grip developed by the car's Pirelli Trofeo tyres in conjunction with the downforce is so extreme that you get a slight pain in your neck.

Twelve laps prove to be an extreme physical workout, but the Senna feels capable of going harder and faster.

McLaren says it is a car which shines on the track. It is not a trophy vehicle to be parked along other prized models.

Alas, only 500 units will be made and all have either been sold or allocated to dealers around the world. Four are said to be headed for Singapore from the first quarter of next year - despite its expected price tag of $4.5 million.

Does it live up to its name?

Without a doubt. The Senna is a phenomenal car with explosive acceleration, gut-wrenching grip and unrivalled handling and feel.

It may even be the quickest street-legal track machine out there.