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McLaren Elva test: What it’s like to drive a supercar with no windows

HANDOUT - No roof, no windscreen: The McLaren Elva is more airy than most other roadsters. Photo: McLaren Automotive Ltd./dpa - ACHTUNG: Nur zur redaktionellen Verwendung im Zusammenhang mit dem genannten Text und nur bei vollständiger Nennung des vorstehenden Credits Credit: McLaren Automotive Ltd./dpa
HANDOUT – No roof, no windscreen: The McLaren Elva is more airy than most other roadsters. Photo: McLaren Automotive Ltd./dpa – ACHTUNG: Nur zur redaktionellen Verwendung im Zusammenhang mit dem genannten Text und nur bei vollständiger Nennung des vorstehenden Credits

No roof, no windshield and a hairy-chested V8 engine providing the power: The McLaren Elva is one of the rawest and most potent sportscars on the road. Sadly, to call it expensive would be an understatement. Saving on windows doesn’t cut costs, it seems.

(dpa) – Put on your goggles, because McLaren is taking you on the ride of a lifetime. The British maker has gone ballistic with the Elva which offers amazing performance while cutting the one feature you thought no car could do without: windows.

After all, who needs them? Or a roof or even side-screens, for that matter. When blasting through the landscape, they would just increase the drag on the slippery carbon-fibre on a car designed to deliver speed and excitement.

Anyone spotting a parked Elva would be tempted to take a photograph but the chances of seeing this rarity from Britain are minimal.
Production has been pegged at strictly 149 examples and with a price tag of 1.7 million euros (just over 2 million US dollars) its appeal to all but the fabulously rich, is also limited.

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The radical concept of the Elva makes it unique in the automotive universe. The cockpit features twin bucket seats with fabric woven from naturally black carbon-fibre and there are tasteful white gold and platinum applications.

The lithe bodywork seems to offer scant protection from the elements and McLaren strongly suggests you don some safety goggles and a tailor-made helmet before dashing off.

The shape of the curvaceous bodywork with various slits and grilles has been fine tuned in a wind tunnel and the Elva features what McLaren calls its active-air-management system.

The high-tech helper is a 15-centimetre long front spoiler which raises a flap about 15 centimetres into the air. This reduces the blast of air onto driver and passenger and it pops up automatically at 50 km/h when things get windy.

So what’s it like with no windshield in front of you?

You certainly feel the speed more intensely, but the airflow feels more like a stiff breeze than the hurricane-like turbulence you might expect.

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The system is good but once the flap withdraw and the speedometer shows 200 km/h this Elva runs the length of its wildness. At this pace the buffeting gets brutal.

Driver and passenger feel the full brunt as the car pierces the air like a jet fighter. McLaren recommends switching off the air management at high speed.

Driving this thing fast is for hardcore fans only. On hilly roads it’s like being strapped into a roller-coaster cabin as the car plunges up hill and down dale with its occupants strapped in at the sharp end.

The spectacular performance is a result of feather-like weight mated to the mind-bending 815 horsepower pumped out by the twin-turbocharged 4-litre engine.

The 100 km/h mark flashes up after 2.8 seconds and it takes only 6.8 seconds to double the speed. For the brave who want to test the limits of this rocket, the Elva only run out of steam at 327 km/h.

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The Elva is an extravagant roadster for enthusiasts. Unpractical for daily use, it’s more toy than serious car. That is what makes it so fascinating.

Owners will take it out in the pouring rain and come back with a wide grin on their faces – after all, you an outrun almost any rain cloud with the ferocious performance on tap.

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