The McLaren Elva combines the British manufacturer’s past and present. Its soft, enveloping volumes recall some famous models designed by Bruce McLaren in the 1960s, such as the M1A, M1L, M1B and M1C, while on-board technology, materials and drivability belong to McLaren’s present. Produced in just 149 units and priced at €1.7 million, the Elva is a two-seater roadster that fits into the Ultimate Series segment, dedicated to the most exclusive McLarens. “With this very special car, we wanted to create a roadster that offered a driving experience that was as in touch with the exterior elements as possible. The sculpted volumes, inspired by Formula 1, create a unique sculptural body between interior and exterior in an innovative stylistic example of what we call ‘blurred boundaries’,” said Rob Melville, Design Director at McLaren. The lines and materials, particularly carbon fibre, run from the outside to the inside creating a unique and connected environment.

The processing of the composite material has resulted in unique pieces such as the front shell which is only 1.2mm thick and wraps around the entire nose of the vehicle. The downward-pointing front end and pronounced mudguards give the car a certain drama, as do the scissor-like upward-opening doors. The body and chassis are made entirely of carbon fibre for a total weight of less than 1,148 kg and thrilling performance: the twin-turbo 4.0 V8 with 815 bhp is capable of sprinting from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 3 seconds and from 0 to 200 in just 6.7 seconds.

We drove the car on the Côte d’Azur and Monaco roads and particularly liked the new patented Active Air Management System (AAMS), designed by McLaren engineers to protect passengers from the air and prevent small external objects (like pebbles) raised by other vehicles’ tyres from entering the cabin. Air is channelled into the nose and exits towards the rear through an opening in the bonnet at high speed, creating a bubble. This is facilitated by a deflector that emerges vertically from the bonnet for about 15 centimetres when the speed exceeds 20 km/h.

Once inside the passenger compartment you are enveloped by the sports seats, which are highly restrained but comfortable thanks to a specific adjustment system that allows you to always find the right driving position. The absence of a windscreen, pillars and roof provides excellent visibility: in front of the driver is the instrument panel, which is adjusted in tandem with the steering wheel and incorporates the vehicle dynamics and driving mode settings at the top. Everything is at your fingertips for the least possible distraction and maximum focus on the road. The infotainment system is controlled from a centrally mounted, driver-facing, high-resolution 8-inch touchscreen monitor. Two helmets can be stowed inside the cabin.

In terms of colours and materials, the Elva is fully customisable thanks to the “Special Operations” programme dedicated to the most exclusive McLarens. From the substantially unlimited exterior colours, which also include historic liveries inspired by the British marque’s racing cars, to the interiors, to the wheels with specific finishes. For the more discerning there is also the option of an 18-carat white gold or platinum badge and, if that’s not enough, there is also a 24-carat gold engine bay cover.