McLaren confirms rumors of a Senna-powered open-top speedster

McLaren confirms rumors of a Senna-powered open-top speedster

At a private briefing for McLaren customers at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the company's CEO, Mike Flewett, announced that the English supercar-builder will launch an all-new speedster next year as the next Ultimate Series McLaren, promising the “purest driving experience yet.” The announcement confirms rumors about a McLaren speedster set to compete with Ferrari's open Monza SP1 and SP2 cars.

In connection with the briefing, McLaren released a side profile image of the as-yet-unnamed two-seat, open-cockpit übercar, said to be track-capable but focused more for the road than the race track. It will slot as part of the top-tier McLaren Ultimate Series, price-wise, between the $958,966 McLaren Senna and the $2.55 million Speedtail. As with the other top-of-the-lineup Ultimate Series cars, it will be exclusive, with just 399 examples to be made.

The new McLaren has a speedster look to it, though speedsters generally have at least a vestigial, cut-down windshield, and the new roadster has no windscreen at all. The automaker says that it will offer “an unrivalled sense of driver connection with the surrounding environment.” The released image also has no sign of any roof (though it could be retractable), so we'll just have to wait until next year to find out if the next Ultimate McLaren has any kind of weather protection at all.

Roof or not, the image reveals classic roadster proportions, and like all McLarens it will have upswinging dihedral doors, albeit low-profile, frameless-window versions of McLaren's signature entryways.

As with other McLarens, the new roadster will be based on McLaren's very strong but lightweight carbon fiber tub. McLaren promises the new car will be the lightest McLaren road car ever produced. Si

nce it will be powered by a version of the Senna's 789 horsepower twin-turbo V-8 engine, performance should be up to snuff within the Ultimate Series.

Horsepower levels across the industry are still rising, but there are theoretical and practical limits to how much motive power you can get out of gasoline, and/or electrons, hence the emphasis on light weight. The upcoming T.50 from Gordon Murray Automotive is likely to achieve class-competitive levels of performance from “just” 650 hp because of serious attention to lightweighting. McLaren seems to be following Sir Murray's example.

In a statement issued by McLaren, Flewett said, “At McLaren Automotive we are consistently pushing the boundaries to deliver the purest and most engaging driving experience whether for the road or track. Our two current Ultimate Series cars, the Senna and Speedtail, offer unique and distinct driving experiences. Now this new addition to the Ultimate Series, an open-cockpit roadster, will take road-focused driving pleasure to new levels.”

The firm is currently “taking expressions of interest” from current and potential McLaren customers, with delivery planned sometime in late 2020.