McLaren Elva 2021 UK review


But here’s the thing: it’s still not a windscreen, nor even close. But thanks to a few US states in which you can’t sell a car without a screen, one is now a no-cost option that I would take in a heartbeat.

When the roads clear and you let loose, the sensation of speed as the Elva accelerates might be the greatest I’ve experienced in a road car. More power and less weight than the McLaren Senna combined with exposure to the elements provides a unique sensory experience. But to use it properly, you need a track.

Although I was told that the Elva is track-capable but not track-optimised like the Senna, I actually preferred it. Because it has relatively little downforce, you don’t get the sense ever-present in the Senna that the limitations of its street tyres are holding it back. It just joyously attacks the circuit, sounding better than any McLaren since the F1 as it does so.

There’s a playfulness, a wonderful balance and that sense of it being hardwired into your thoughts that you get only with really light, beautifully set up cars. And it makes straights simply vanish – even at Goodwood, where the main one is quite long. Emerge from Lavant, let it rip, gear, gear, pause, gear, BRAKE! It feels like that.

It might not sound that vast a compliment to pay a car costing this much, but its feel is that of the best- sorted Caterham Seven you could imagine, turned up until the dial comes off in your hand. And I know some will now ask why one wouldn’t then save £1.4 million by buying a Caterham, or an Ariel Atom, or any other similarly impractical sports car. But to those who do buy an Elva for its look, its exclusivity and its name, the answer is that it’s not a calculation it would occur to them to make.

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