Air management

Watch McLaren Elva’s Active Air Management System in action

The McLaren Elva is the newest addition to the British automaker’s Ultimate Series range. The Elba joins the ranks of the iconic F1 along with the P1, Speedtail and Senna. But unlike the aforementioned Exotics, the Elva is the only speedster of the bunch. That means learning how to handle an 804 horsepower supercar without a roof, windshield and side windows.

With a top speed of over 200mph and no windshields to keep the air from destroying your face and hairstyle, the folks at McLaren have devised a solution to keep things calm and tidy at higher speeds. McLaren calls it the Active Air Management System or AAMS.

And while AAMS may seem complicated, the concept behind it is incredibly simple to understand. See those vents on the hood? The Elva “collects” oncoming air from the front of the car and diverts it to these vents, releasing the collected air at higher pressures. This has the effect of creating an invisible “air bubble” in front of the car.

Using smart aerodynamics, this “air bubble” creates a virtual windshield in the cabin. And as you go faster, there’s a carbon fiber wind deflector that automatically rises 5.9 inches to further prevent air from spoiling your work. Apparently, AAMS can be turned on or off manually, but the system automatically gets to work as you approach higher speeds.

And that’s a good thing since the McLaren Elva is synonymous with speed. Behind the exposed cabin is a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that develops 804 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. The engine is bolted to a smooth seven-speed gearbox spinning the rear wheels.

Since the Elva is McLaren’s lightest road car, it’s supposed to be faster than the Senna from 0-124mph, which it accomplishes in 6.7 seconds. It always goes from zero to 60 mph in under three seconds, which makes it extremely fast, indeed.

As expected, the Elva is adorned with lightweight carbon fiber body panels. Even the floor and seat shells are made from carbon fiber. The interior receives a central 8-inch touchscreen mounted on a carbon fiber arm. Meanwhile, the seats are upholstered in your choice of different leather or synthetic fabric materials.

McLaren only makes 399 units of the Elva with prices starting at $1.7 million. The best part? The car is available to order now. And yes, McLaren’s AAMS ‘air bubble’ system is standard, although how it handles bugs and flying stones is unclear.