I recently had the chance to drive the McLaren Senna, which is just about the craziest automotive driving experience I’ve ever had. I say this not because it’s the fastest car I’ve ever driven, although it very nearly is, or because it’s the most expensive car I’ve ever driven, although it very nearly is that, too, but rather because it’s just the craziest car I’ve ever driven.
We’ll start with the appearance, which is just insane. The moment you glance at this car you realize you’re looking at one of the most bizarre, ridiculous vehicles in the entire car industry, as there’s not a single line on this car designed to make it look … good. Or at least that’s my take. Instead, every line, every scoop, every edge is designed solely for function — and it’s very, very functional, as the car generates ridiculous downforce numbers and it has a wing the size of a convenience store.
Getting in the car, you start to notice even more absurdity — like the fact that there are three separate window areas in the doors. You have your usual side window, fine, but you also have a window in the roof of the door, so you can look up, and then another window in the lower part of the door so you can see the road as you drive. This is not anywhere near as weird as the $6,700 water bottle mounted in between the seats — yes, this exists — but it’s a great example of the bizarre features of the Senna.
But, anyway, I’ve covered those features in great detail in the attached video, so right now let’s talk about the driving experience. For one, the Senna is fast. Very, very, very fast. You drop the throttle and you’re in "Oh my God" territory before you even realized it, as the 790-horsepower V8 roars to life and the turbos spool up instantaneously. It really does feel like one of the fastest cars I’ve ever driven, though I think all the craziness — the wing, the ridiculous interior, the lower door windows — helps to contribute to that feeling, giving you a really impressive sensation of speed that you don’t get in other vehicles.
The handling, too, is very, very sharp — the steering is amazingly precise, turning the car the moment you begin to just edge the steering wheel in the direction you want to go, and the entire car follows with no lag, no body roll, no laziness at all. You can see why this car is aimed at track drivers: it’s just so fast to accelerate and so wildly quick to turn that you really don’t even begin to explore the car’s abilities unless you can go all-out, foot on the floor, without having to worry about crossovers and red lights. And in terms of styling, it’s certainly not the sort of "beauty" you’d see at a valet stand, but rather the kind of "functional" you’d expect to find on a race track.
Other aspects of the car are more "race track" than road, too — like, for instance, the ride quality, which is abhorrent and tremendously stiff, to the point where you don’t really want to drive this around for any long period of time. Not that you could, really, because there’s no storage space. And I don’t mean there’s "very little" storage space like some exotic cars: there is literally none. No trunk, no glove box, no interior panels where you can place stuff. You barely have room for your registration and insurance information.
Indeed, the Senna really is one of the craziest cars on the road any way you look at it — its performance, its value, its appearance, its driving experience and its cost. It’s like few other cars, and even few other exotic cars, and it’s an amazing thrill to drive — if you were one of the 500 people selected to own one. If not, prepare to pay a premium: the car I drove had a sticker price of $1.1 million, but it’s probably worth more like $1.8 million today — meaning few will likely every drive it the way it’s engineered to be driven.