• Video: How Fast Can the McLaren Senna Really Go?

The numbers are impressive, but do they stack up to McLaren’s claims?

The McLaren Senna represents the pinnacle of McLaren engineering. It’s the result of the British automaker’s goal to build a more potent machine than the P1 hypercar without having to rely on the latter’s hybrid technology. McLaren achieved that goal when it turned it into a ground-breaking, lightweight supercar that defied even our highest of expectations. But as impressive as it was from a technical standpoint, the Senna still had to prove that its performance chops are as good as advertised. That opportunity finally came when the Senna did a top speed run at the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds in Merritt Island, Florida. The results, as you might expect, came with a few surprises.

The McLaren Senna finally got the chance to showcase its performance worth, and it didn’t disappoint.

The 789-horsepower supercar managed to post a top speed run of 204.1 mph on the 2.7-mile runway at the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds in Merritt Island, Florida.

The number itself is impressive, but it was four miles slower than McLaren’s advertised top speed of 208 mph. Still, if you factor in room for errors with complicated numbers like top speed, the Senna more than proved its worth as a bona fide supercar, it also showcased McLaren’s continued success in developing performance cars that are worth the hype they receive.

The Senna’s top speed run is more impressive when you consider where it was done. For those who aren’t familiar, the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds is one of the best places in the world to perform smooth top speed runs. It features a 3-mile concrete runway with an asphalt runoff of 1,000 feet at each end of the runway. There’s little elevation change, too, in the runway — only about a quarter of an inch — making it one of the smoothest — and most unimpeded — pieces of road that performance cars like the Senna can really stretch their legs.

Video: How Fast Can the McLaren Senna Really Go?
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Even with its posted top speed, an argument can be made that the Senna can still post a faster top speed run, or at least come closer to McLaren’s advertised top speed of 208 mph. Lower temperatures, for example, would improve the efficiency of the supercars turbochargers, which, in turn, could tack a few extra miles per hour to the Senna’s posted top speed. Such an occurrence is not without precedence. Last month, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS clocked a top speed of 211 mph at the JBPG. Impressive, right? It is, at the very least, in line with Porsche’s top speed claims of 211 mph. Well, the 911 GTRS returned a few weeks later to better weather conditions and reached a top speed of 219 mph, shattering Porsche’s own claims in the process.

Video: How Fast Can the McLaren Senna Really Go?
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So, the question begs: is the McLaren Senna faster than McLaren thinks? Its first top speed says “no,” but what if the Senna returns to Florida in better circumstances? Extending the top speed by four mph would be enough to reach McLaren’s claimed top speed, but don’t be surprised if it can hit a higher top speed than that. Either way, the Senna is equipped to send our jaws crashing to the floor. This is, after all, a car that recently went through a dyno test under the watchful eye of Hennessey to determine how much of McLaren’s claimed output from the supercar’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine — 789 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque — actually makes it to the wheels. The results ultimately came in, and the Senna actually put down 724.13 horsepower at 7,300 RPM.

Now, that’s less than the automaker’s claimed power output, but it’s important to note that the drivetrain loss added up to just over eight percent, which is only half of the common 15-percent drivetrain loss.

Even more telling, the Senna’s dyno run yielded torque numbers hitting 627.95 pound-feet at 5,430 rpm, a lot higher than McLaren’s factory rating of 590 pound-feet. Is this a case of McLaren being coy with the Senna’s actual power figures? We’ll probably find out more about it if the supercar returns to the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds and obliterates its own factory top speed mark.

Video: How Fast Can the McLaren Senna Really Go?
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We don’t know when that’s going to happen, but, hopefully, it happens sooner than later.

2019 McLaren Senna Drivetrain and Performance Comparison

McLaren Senna McLaren 720S McLaren P1 McLaren P1 Hybrid
Engine 4.0-liter V-8 4.0-litre twin-turbo V-8 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 plus electric motor
Horsepower 789 HP 710 HP @ 7,500 RPM 727 HP @ 7,500 RPM
Torque 590 LB-FT 568 LB-FT @ 5,500 RPM 531 LB-FT @ 4,000 RPM
Combined output 903 HP
Combined torque 1,100 LB-FT
Transmission Dual-clutch, seven-speed transmission 7 Speed SSG dual-clutch seven-speed gearbox dual-clutch seven-speed gearbox
Weight 2,641 LBS 2,828 Lbs 3,075 Lbs 3,075 Lbs
0 to 60 mph TBA 2.8 seconds 2.8 seconds 2.8 seconds
Top Speed TBA 212 mph 217 mph 217 mph

Further reading

Meet the 2019 McLaren Senna – Track-Going Evil With a Hunger For the Road
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2019 McLaren Senna

Read our full review on the 2019 McLaren Senna.

2020 McLaren Senna GTR
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Read our full review on the 2019 McLaren Senna GTR.

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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