A car windshield protects passengers from rushing wind and dangerous debris, but the McLaren Elva eliminates that barrier to provide the purest driving experience possible. The automaker also includes an innovative feature that directs air up and over this topless beauty to help shield passengers from the elements. Still, Elva’s main mission is driver immersion. That’s helped by the hypercar’s mid-mounted 804-hp twin-turbo V-8 that exhales through four exhaust barrels. Combine that with lightweight carbon-fiber construction, and this McLaren ranks among the quickest cars on the market. Regardless of performance posturing, the 2021 Elva is a breathtaking creation that competes with windscreen-less exotics such as the Ferrari Monza and Aston Martin V12 Speedster.
What’s New for 2021?
The McLaren Elva is a limited-production model inspired by race cars that were designed by the legendary Bruce McLaren in the late ’60s. It’s also the latest member to join the company’s exclusive Ultimate Series, which includes legends such as the McLaren P1 and more recent sensations such as the Speedtail.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Its wild and unconventional design can easily distract from Elva’s remarkable performance credentials. This includes its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 that produces 804 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. The engine hooks up to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that powers the rear wheels. McLaren claims the Elva will accelerate from zero to 62 mph in less than three seconds and from zero to 124 mph in just 6.7 seconds. For added context, that latter number makes the Elva quicker than the track-focused Senna. The Elva also is reported to be the company’s lightest road car ever, but likely not lighter than icons such as the McLaren F1. While our extensive tests have proved time and time again that anything wearing Bruce McLaren’s namesake will excite the senses, we still walked away from a test drive in the Elva stunned by its speed and graceful handling.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Neither McLaren nor the government (read: EPA) has released fuel-economy ratings for the turbo V-8 that powers the rear-drive Elva. Still, even if it turns out that this topless hypercar is the least efficient vehicle on the planet, those who can afford to own one are probably not concerned with single-digit EPA ratings or real-world mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The outside and inside of the Elva are seamlessly connected. Not having a roof—let alone a windshield—will do that. The integrated appearance also can be attributed to how the exterior bodywork extends into the upper dashboard and door panels. Apart from the obligatory central infotainment screen, Elva’s interior design is uncomplicated. McLaren wisely keeps the flat-bottomed steering wheel free of buttons, and the binnacle that houses the fully digital gauge cluster is connected to the steering column, so the entire unit moves together. A series of climate-control vents are located below the beltline, presumably to maximize hot and cold airflow. These face a pair of supportive-looking seats for the driver and passenger. They’re the ones who benefit from Elva’s neatest trick, which uses natural airflow and a front-mounted deflector to direct air up and over the cockpit. McLaren calls it Active Air Management, and the system automatically adjusts based on how fast the car is traveling. The company will also offer a fixed windshield to comply with certain state laws and pacify those who can’t help but diminish the whole experience.