Mclaren has pulled the covers off its new Elva – the latest model of its Ultimate Series lineup. The open-cockpit two-seater celebrates the Bruce McLaren-designed McLaren-Elva sportscars of the 1960s that embody McLaren’s pioneering design and engineering principles.
Built on a bespoke carbon fibre (monocoque) chassis with no roof, no windscreen, and no side windows – the Elva will be the lightest road car ever from McLaren Automotive.
The sensational design features a low, wide nose and pronounced front fender peaks to provide visual drama and at the same time enhance the driver’s forward vision. Large, carbon fibre rear fenders flow from the front of the door to the rear deck, while the height of the twin rear buttresses is minimised by using a deployable roll-over protection system. A fixed windscreen derivative of the car is also available for most markets as a factory option.
The Elva’s design also introduces the world’s first Active Air Management System (AAMS): the AAMS channels air through the nose of the Elva to come out of the front clamshell at high velocity ahead of the occupants before being directed up over the cockpit to insulate the occupants from turbulent air.
The system comprises a large central inlet situated above the splitter, a front clamshell outlet vent and a small carbon fibre deflector that raises and lowers vertically; when the AAMS is active (at higher speeds), the deflector is deployed at the leading edge of the bonnet outlet, rising 150mm into the freestream to create a low-pressure zone at the vent. The vented air is directed through a 130-degree radius, using a network of transverse and longitudinally mounted carbon fibre vanes across the bonnet outlet; distributing the airflow both in front of and along the side of the cabin further assists air management in the cabin environment.
The Elva is powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that is slated to produce 815PS. McLaren claims a 0-100km/h time of under 3.0 seconds and 0-200km/h in just 6.7 seconds, quicker even than the McLaren Senna (at 6.8 seconds). The engine is from the same family of engines that power the McLaren Senna and Senna GTR, it features a flat-plane crankshaft, dry-sump lubrication and lightweight connecting camshafts, rods, and pistons that reduce mass in the powertrain.
The Elva develops 15PS more than the Senna, achieved through an optimised exhaust system with reduced back pressure and improved LTR performance that reduces charge air temperatures. The exhaust itself is an intricate and lightweight titanium and Inconel system. Power is directed to the rear wheels through a seven-speed seamless-shift gearbox which features a Launch Control function.
The Elva also features the state-of-the-art McLaren linked-hydraulic fully active suspension offers a varied breadth of ability on all road surfaces, with both unique software settings and bespoke springs and damper valving matched to the extremely light overall vehicle weight.
To cope with all that power, the braking system is also the most advanced ever fitted to a McLaren road car. Each sintered carbon-ceramic disc measures 390mm and takes significantly longer to produce than a conventional carbon ceramic disc, but the resultant material is much stronger and has improved thermal conductivity. The braking system was first introduced on the McLaren Senna but is enhanced for the Elva with the addition of titanium caliper pistons which save a total of 1kg across the vehicle.
Exploiting the Elva’s unique architecture, McLaren has introduced the ‘blurred boundaries’ design principle which sees carbon fibre bodywork wrapping into the open-air cabin as exterior flows into the interior. The uppermost sections of the carbon fibre doors simply curve over and flow down into the cabin, the light, stiff and strong composite material providing the perfect compromise between form and function.
A carbon fibre spar additionally sweeps down from between the buttresses and runs between the driver and passenger seats to houses a central armrest, engine start button, and the controls for Drive, Neutral, and Reverse functions. The seats themselves are of a bespoke design, with a new lightweight carbon fibre shell that not only supports the head, shoulder and back area of the occupants. Six-point race harnesses can be optionally specified should the customer wish to use the Elva on track.
In a first for McLaren, the controls for the Active Dynamics drive functions are integrated into the instrument cluster; set either side of the binnacle, the dynamic mode switches are situated close to the gearshift paddles and their operation does not require the driver to remove their hands from the steering wheel. Additional functionality is accessed through the centrally-mounted 8-inch high-resolution touchscreen monitor; the brand-new interface features an edgeless-glass screen and a side-mounted control dial.
Stowage space is offered beneath the rear tonneau. Made from carbon fibre, the curving single-piece panel is operated manually and secured with soft-close latches. The compartment under the tonneau has space for helmets and houses the porthole-like panels that showcase the two visible air filters.
The Elva does not have an audio system as standard (to keep weight down) but customers can specify a bespoke system at no additional cost. Further non-cost options include 5-Spoke Super-Lightweight forged alloy wheels in lieu of the 10-Spoke Ultra-lightweight wheels fitted as standard; track-focused Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres rather than Pirelli P Zero street tyres; and a vehicle lift system.
Just 399 examples of new McLaren Elva are available for customer order, starting from GBP1,425,000 (including UK VAT); customer deliveries are scheduled to begin towards the end of 2020.