Op-Ed: New McLaren Too Ugly To Do Justice To Senna’s Name

Last year, during the press conference at the launch of the 570GT, McLaren’s people talked about their future products, among which they promised “a surprise” – and none of the journos attending the event managed to guess what it would be.

As it turns out, it was the Senna hypercar that was revealed on December 9. A big surprise, indeed, as no one saw that one coming, but not necessarily a good one.

When it was launched, the otherwise very competent MP4-12C received lots of flak for its uninspired looks. McLaren’s designers obviously listened and their subsequent models were much more special.

Which brings us to its latest hypercar that’s named after the late Ayrton Senna, who many consider as the greatest Formula 1 driver of all times.

Now, beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but to this editor’s eyes, the Senna is the ugliest thing to ever come out of Woking. There’s no doubt that it’ll be amazing to drive, but perhaps, when they were penning it, they took the “form follows function” dictum at heart a tad too much.

Thus, the end result might produce tons of downforce and boast blistering performance, but its looks are so incongruous even a mother would have trouble calling it beautiful.

I have no doubt that every scoop, air intake and what-have-you serves a purpose and that it will be a blast to drive, especially on a track. I also think that McLaren’s own P1, for example, looks way better, and I’m baffled why they would grace this particular car with Senna’s name. Of all the monikers they could come up with, they chose that of the most iconic F1 driver for what, to my eyes at least, is just plain ugly.

Checking out the comments section, I discovered that I am not alone, as a great number of our readers agree, with some comparing it with VeilSide’s kit for the RX-7 or the Gumbert Apollo.

At least they gave it a decent, hypercar-worthy, interior. Still, even if it breaks the ‘Ring record or beats all of its hypercar rivals in comparison tests, there’s no way around the fact that something named after Senna deserved a much better design.

As for a lesson in how a company does justice to Ayrton’s name, just check out Ducati’s superbikes that not only go like stink, but look delicious, too.

Photo Gallery

  • Tuan Cao

    That is fugly…

    • Bo Hanan

      It’s a “best in dark colors” kind of car.

  • Shahul Usman

    Guess im in the minority… I like it… I think in black or dark grey it’d look amazing, hide some of the ducts and vents…

    • Ermal Morina

      Well ehmm. The colour choice to reveal was wrong in the first place.I saw a render of it being in full carbon fibre,and it looked miles better than this orange one

  • Kannag Don Amenra

    Love it… and the 720S

  • Jason Panamera

    It may not be in the most of the people’s taste but for me it’s really nice. The desing is created by a velocity, by a force and by a man’s strive for perfection in his will of achieving the best. You may not feel it by it’s look but for sure you will behind the wheel where the drive is.

    • nellydesign

      Are you writing a press release?

      • Jason Panamera

        Nope. I’m just McLaren Fanboy.

        • yawn

          You sound pathetic in both comments.

          • Jason Panamera

            Dunno what’s your problem dude. Seems like you’ve never driven an extreme sports car and never experienced extreme feelings connected with it. I did so I hope you will and you will get what moto passion is. But for now gedda out of there you troll.

          • yawn

            You know nothing about me, however you’ve now proven yourself to be pathetic.

          • Jason Panamera

            Yawn… don’t feed the troll.

  • Dustin

    My thoughts exactly! Thank you.

    Especially ironic – and more baffling – considering this a company that has never used a real name before. I mean, this car looks perfect for a name like BP18-12C. But to make use of the Senna name for one and only one car in McLaren’s history, and have it be this one? A real shame.

    Will the performance of this car better the P1? Will the performance of this car better the coming BP23? It’s not even the ultimate car – just part of an ultimate series. That is not a good enough use for the Senna name.

    Sure, any car’s performance will always be outdone in time. The key is to make a special car that is timeless, even as its performance becomes bested. Sort of how we continue to rank the 1980s F40 among the best Ferraris, no matter how much faster the new ones are. People tend to love that F40 more than the later F50 and even Enzo. That’s a special type of car. That’s what the Senna name deserved. Something that will still be talked about 40 years from now. This ain’t it.

    The Senna car should be a 3-seater, so as to have the central seat. It should have a bespoke engine. (Preferably non-turbo, so as to not only be unique but to give it a feeling that will make it forever special even as its performance is bested – as in the F1.) And of course, gorgeous timeless looks, which no special automobile should be without.

    Missed opportunity – and poor use of a name as a short-sighted marketing tool. And for what? The cars were sold before we even knew it existed. They didn’t need to throw the Senna name away on it.

  • Looking Glass

    Counterpoint: To say it doesn’t do justice to the name is a stretch. The car is designed to honour a motorsport legend, someone who put performance above all else. This car does a similar thing, and it does it with aero inspired by F1, a racing category that often isn’t all that good looking owing to its ‘performance first’ ethos.

    Is the car attractive? No. Is it a fitting tribute to the life and legacy of Ayrton Senna? absolutely. The biggest hurdle the McLaren has to overcome is that the last road car Senna had any input into was the original Honda NSX, and its modest styling was a masterwork by comparison.

    • exeptor

      +1 for NSX. The name is a matter of everyone’s own interpretation. Ayrton Senna occupied a special place in the hearts of Motorsport fans (especially those who were kids in 90’s) and using his name here and there (I know that McLaren are the most worthy company to make a tribute to Senna) might be tricky … at least.

  • BobV12

    Well Senna was famous for being efficient around a track, he didn’t spend his week-ends on podiums, even if one could find him handsome.

    • Six_Tymes

      HAHAHA! what a way to spin the horrid looks of this mess of a design. Poor Senna, one of the greatest drivers ever, to have his name used on ugly.

  • Six_Tymes


  • Yilmaz Yasar

    looks bad at profile. Especially from front to A pillar

  • Why is everyone so upset about the design? This car was deliberately set out to be substance over style – that was literally the whole point of this particular Mclaren. There will be another model out that’ll be more road-biased, and thus be stylised to represent that.

    It’s like complaining that Radical don’t make good looking cars because they’re designed based on downforce etc… to be used on a track, not primarily the road.

    Did everyone forget the press realse of the Senna as soon as they took the covers off? Stop complaining that a car that wasn’t designed to look good, doesn’t look good.

  • eb110americana

    Didn’t read the article yet, but seconded. It’s a shame too, as the 720S is one of their best looking cars ever.

  • Maybe Senna wasn’t the most goodlooking man on Earth, but the name Senna, must be given to something so very special, not only goes fast, but must perfect balanced and more hyper than any Hypercar before. Something in the way of the McLaren F1 was in his time and stayed to this day, we count on. So this doesn’t do right to his name, it isn’t a shame, but just not good enough for carrying his name.

  • Joff

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about it was designed both for road and track. And let’s be honest with ourselves, who’s going to turn one down for Christmas

    • LWOAP

      Quite a few people when they realize just how much it will cost to insure one. Unless you’re insanely rich a car like this will break the bank for most people.

    • Bo Hanan

      Agreed. I have yet to see a pretty F1 car. Their design is purposeful.
      And watch how quickly the value of these car rise after the last one is sold.

  • Jim jehosophat

    Senna first and foremost was a driver, you drive a car from the inside not the outside…….if you judge a car by aesthetics alone then you don’t get what these cars are about.

    Senna was a competitor one of the most ferocious competitors in Formula 1 history if someone had said to him we have a car that can win but its ugly, he wouldn’t have thought twice on it. Ugly isn’t a factor in being number 1.

  • Captain Obvious

    It’s one of the ugliest cars of the decade. The fact that this is a hypercar from McLaren just adds insult to injury. Just look at the proportions, it’s almost like an April Fools joke

  • Shahul Usman

    I have less an issue with the looks as I do that with that NAME it must be the best ever… should have used on whatever that 3 seater racer is… unless this really will be their fastest track car

  • robert Lockhart

    The Senna has the looks of both lmp racer meets F1 car with, of course, a McLaren twist. And I happen to think it’s the best looking of all the McLaren’s! Its so radical, bold, yet functional and unforgivingly in your face aggressive. Many thought the honda nsx was ugly when the production model came out, but when they see the car in person… its all they see. And that’s even when it’s in the company of lambos, rarri’s, and the awesome yet somewhat vanilla R8. Same goes for the Senna. Breaking all the laws of conformity, it definitely gets and ‘- F’ for those seeking to associate themselve with a look they are pretentiously unworthy of. Which is why I love it even more.

  • Rob Banks

    For those who find the Senna not to their liking, imagine all the exposed carbon fiber, or just the bottom chin spoiler/ front fascia, painted. It changes the whole demeanor. The rear deck spoiler also stands a bit awkwardly upright. Tone it down a bit compromising function for ‘looks’ (popular theme here), and perhap paint the side skirts and I think you’ll find a car more to your liking.

  • Prefiero Elanonimato

    so bad, great articule

    • Eythan Aldrich

      *article -_-

  • Justin Su

    i quite like it,
    does it deserve Senna’s name? fuck no. but i dont think its ugly.

  • surfshop

    I like this car, Ayrton would be proud indeed

  • exeptor

    Strange, I start liking it, yet I still think that you better buy an ex F1 car or even better (financially) Radical. The front is the “strangest” part of the car (excluding the name which is totally inappropriate), but in dark color it actually looks interesting in a good way. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/47407d06a57ccbe7afe19217ac9b377fef0166c3b081eb484babfaa183c5afcc.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c5c0c2d34e99f29aba6e0f70544ae22661cb4e9da48bdd25d412e39ab1129cb5.jpg

  • Hung Le

    It’s so ugly I love it. But why? I don’t know. Can’t explain…

  • innotech .

    It looks beautifully functional. I love it

  • Batman

    It’s like a cheap Chinese fake Batmobile!

  • Donal Maher

    Looks like some sh*t ’80s concept car or something out of an early Ridge Racer.
    Dreadful looking thing.
    Considering most hypercars are just used for rev battles and posing in London and Monaco, I can’t see this being all that popular!

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