Refreshing or Revolting: McLaren Senna vs. P1 GTR


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Last weekend, McLaren revealed the next entry in its Ultimate Series of hypercars. Though it wasn’t the hybrid hypercar successor to the mighty P1 we were expecting, the McLaren Senna is just as extreme, and might even top the P1’s on-track performance. That’s because the Senna was designed “to be the ultimate McLaren track-concentrated car for the road.” That last bit is important because the Senna isn’t a track-only car like the P1 GTR. Despite their different missions, specs, and price points, we can still compare the two Ultimate Series track specials when it comes to styling.

From just about every angle, the two cars look vastly different from on another. The P1 GTR benefits from the smooth, sculpted lines of the standard P1, but features race car bits like a larger front splitter, canards on the front bumper, a more prominent rear diffuser, and a large stanchioned rear wing. Despite a few similarities to the 720S, the Senna’s exterior is completely bespoke. Downforce and aerodynamic balance were McLaren’s primary goals when designing the Senna, and the resulting shape may not be pretty to all, but it’s said to be effective at its job.

Up front, the Senna has a long front overhang with recessed headlights underlined by LED accents. There are also large ducts in the hood and a carbon-fiber front splitter that extends beyond the fenders. The P1 GTR has a shorter front overhang but a similarly large carbon-fiber splitter and hood vents.

From the side, there’s a lot going on with the Senna’s bodywork. Even McLaren admits “you cannot follow a single line from the front to the rear without it passing through a functional air intake or vent.” There’s a periscope intake scoop mounted where the roofline begins to slope, and there’s no rear quarter window—only cut lines in the bodywork where one should be. The doors can be optioned with clear glass inserts in place of carbon fiber to show off your legs, and the side windows are sectioned into two pieces much like a DeLorean DMC-12 or Subaru SVX. Both cars have massive rear wings, but the Senna’s is reverse-mounted and extends from just behind the rear axle, as opposed to the P1 GTR which mounts its wing at the very back.

At the rear, both cars have slim taillights and center-exit exhausts, but the Senna has three exhaust tips arranged in a triangle shape within a hexagonal design element. You can also see the Senna’s stepped louvers just below the wing, which direct airflow to the sides of the body. The Senna’s diffuser also has more fins than the P1 GTR’s simpler unit. The mechanicals of the P1 GTR are more exposed from the rear compared to the Senna, which only has its transaxle peeking through.

McLaren gave the interiors of both cars a generous amount of exposed carbon fiber, but the P1 GTR’s cabin just screams “race car” with its deleted passenger seat, driver’s-side racing bucket, yoke-style steering wheel, and floor-mounted fire extinguisher. The Senna’s cockpit is minimalist, but still resembles the interiors of McLaren’s road cars for the most part.

Has McLaren done the revered Senna name justice with this car’s design? Check out all the photos and decide for yourself.

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