‘Windscreen version’ of Elva enters production

McLaren's open-top hyper-roadster gets no-cost option of a windscreen. Would you?

By PH Staff / Thursday, May 27, 2021 / Loading comments

Having made considerable fuss about the Elva’s lack of a windscreen back in 2019, McLaren has opted to blow a somewhat smaller trumpet regarding the newest variant, which replaces the nifty Active Air Management System with a more familiar solution to the problem of face-mangling air flow. One that comes with rain-sensing wipers and washer jets.

Yes the ‘windscreen version’ has been revealed for the first time, looking much as you’d expect an Elva would with a conventional windscreen tacked on to its low-slung body. Naturally its maker says that the new model enjoyed its own engineering programme to perfect the car’s dynamic performance, but the most obvious thing for mere mortals to consider is whether or not you think the prototype better or worse looking than the original.

From where we’re sitting it’s a tight call. In its favour, the windscreen version does away with the complicated cavity half way up the front clamshell (actually the AAMS’s primary outlet and the resting place of its flip-up wind deflector), and, on balance, is probably less likely to generate bemusement in passersby. But at the end of the day, the Elva was designed (or redesigned, if you prefer) without need of a conventional barrier, and it’s a little odd to regard one with it reattached.

So why bother? Well, in fairness, McLaren did quietly concede that one would be necessary to meet legal requirements in some parts of the US (it doesn’t specify which states, but we assume it means California) although it’s also conceivable that buyers elsewhere have proven partial to the idea of the no-cost (and less-fuss) option. The fact that the firm cheerily pronounces the windscreen version as one of rarest McLarens ever is likely to have a few more ticking the box.

Not least because they can count on the manufacturer to do things properly. McLaren claims to have targeted only a 20kg weight gain in what is otherwise its lightest-ever road car, despite the inclusion of heated glass and a new carbon-fibre surround. Precisely how much it does weigh is left in hanging in the press release (final validation is pending) but don’t expect any change from the screenless model’s startling 2.8-second-to-62mph performance.

Similarly, McLaren does concede that buyers of the windscreen version will enjoy ‘greater protection from the elements’ than before, but shouldn’t suffer any reduction in the excitement levels. That’s debatable if you enjoy the nervous excitement that comes with endlessly anticipating a bug in the teeth; either way, you’re still accessing an 815hp mid-engined, no-door roadster, windscreen or no. Not to mention one of the quickest and most exclusive new cars in the world.

  • McLaren Elva | First (brief, windy) ride

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