The McLaren Senna makes mind-bending speed comfortable and refined
Walking towards this car, it's hard not to be intimidated.
800 horsepower, 800 newton meters of torque, 800 kilos of downforce, naught to 186 miles an hour in 18.8 seconds And bodywork that we'll call brutal.
And it's all attached to a name that I grew up revering.
Out goes the checkered flag, and Senna has won the
Totally unflappable, imperturbable Brazilian is the one as [UNKNOWN] can find himself his joy.
Then there's the request that we wear a flame proof romper suit.
A helmet and a hands device, it all ramps up the anticipation and jangles the nerves
The seat grasps you.
And as you pull the harnesses tight, it feels like you're being fused to the chassis.
A driving position that can be perfectly tailored certainly serves to settle the pulse rate by a beat or two.
But then you reach for the button in the roof, [SOUND] bring the twin turbo [UNKNOWN] V8 to life.
And the heart begins to thump once more.
[SOUND] This is a car that will lap S-Drill some six seconds faster than a 720S, which itself is nearly as fast as a P1.
It's active arrow and carbon disks and you can brake 29 meters later than the 720S into Astral's daunting downhill first corner.
This doesn't sound like a car for the timid.
And I've just a dozen laps split into two sessions to get to know it.
So, nerves be damned, it's time to be stuck in.
216, 217, 218.
Lean on the brakes.
Amazing visibility in here, all the way around.
We've got these panels down here.
I can't say I'm really looking through those, but [SOUND] Now we've got it in race mode obviously, we're not trying any of the road settings today.
Now this is where you can really feel the aero through this kink Here.
And the brakes here.
Woah, just, you seem to be able to lean on them literally as hard as you want and they'll keep giving more.
It's sort of you're the limiting Factor, not the car, certainly.
The engine is really smooth as well.
It's not, it doesn't feel spiky.
There's obviously loads of power but in a way it feels less intimidating on the power than the 720 because you're so well Well clamped in here.
Seems to corner really flat.
Just through this long turn here, turn, the parabolica.
This is just where occasionally you feel like that 245 section front tyre
You kinda want a wider front tire because it does seem awfully narrow really.
IT was the same with the P1.
But, just occasionally, you can't quite get.
Just gonna concentrate on the brake here.
Under brakes you can load up the front tire, so you don't notice it so much there, it's the corners where you're You're not breaking heavily into them that you notice the slightly narrower front tire.
Love this uphill corner here.
It's really good, the ESP, just how it lets you ease the power.
But you can get the thing moving around on the exit of corners and yet it still feels really controllable.
So stable through there.
[SOUND] What a thing.
This is certainly one of the more difficult cars I've had to try, and talk and drive in.
[SOUND] And I think the fact that it is actually still so drivable, [SOUND]
is quite a shock.
It's not as intimidating as you think it's gonna be.
There we go, that's my laps.
[SOUND] In the McLaren Senna pretty much done, around the wonderful circuit of Estoril.
What a circuit.
[SOUND] What a road car!
As you can tell this is a car that takes a lot of concentration to drive properly.
Yet for all the incredible speed it can generate, doesn't feel ludicrously loud and alien.
Like a race car or even something like a track focus, but road legal radical.
Assembly isn't the intimidating pawning of the senses that I was expecting.
The steering is light and smooth.
The gear shifts are fast but fast free.
And maneuvering at low speed is a doddle.
Only the fantastically firm feel of that brake pedal really stands out in the weighting of the controls.
That the Senna doesn't possess a spine-tingling soundtrack is a shame, but the fact that the active aero add speed, and stability so seamlessly is incredible clever.
Turn 5 is easy flat And the way the computers manage the downforce on the brakings so that you don't have to, is wonderful.
This sort of speed is never anything other than very very serious.
But I think the [UNKNOWN] makes it as accessible as you could ever wish it to be.
So I've just stepped out of the car after the second of my two, six lap sessions.
And I think I got certainly much, much closer to [UNKNOWN], certainly in the corners.
The braking, in terms of fullness, it's the breaking that stands out.
That's the thing that really, that will live with me for a long time.
I've not experienced braking like that in a road car before.
From the feel in the pedals, the actual power And stability of the brakes, it's just extraordinary.
The other thing I think really pleasing me was just [UNKNOWN] how good the [UNKNOWN] system is, it really does let you play.
But also how easy the car is to drive on the throttle.
There are a couple of corners here where you can change it halfway through the slide and just keep the slides going.
It doesn't feel snappy, it feels friendly Overall I think the other big thing that I'll take away from this and the thing you have to keep reminding yourself about this car, is that it is a road car.
So it lacks some of the visceral sort of noise and MVH and drama perhaps of a race car.
But it's still a road car And a road car that can do all that on the circuit is pretty extraordinary.
All that remains now is to drive this road car on the road.
Now where should we do that?
McLaren 600LT: Lighter, faster and oh so pretty
Mercedes-AMG's Project One is blowing minds in Frankfurt
The Audi TT RS can feed your need for speed
Ice driving the Lamborghini Aventador S
Alfa Romeo Stelvio brings Italian flair to the world of SUVs
Jim Glickenhaus is cynical of Lamborghini Performante record
Lamborghini Huracan Performante does more with more
British people can now have a NASCAR experience on their side...
Shootout: Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport vs. Lotus Evora 400
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint is automotive aristocracy