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

By dpa | 12 April 2021

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 (RM8.4mil) its appeal to all but the fabulously rich, is also limited.

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 finetuned in a wind tunnel and the Elva features what McLaren calls its active-air-management system.

The high-tech helper is a 15cm 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 50kph 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.

The system is good but once the flap withdraw and the speedometer shows 200kph 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 100kph 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 327kph.

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.

McLaren Elva Specifications

Engine: 3,994cc V8 direct injection petrol
Max power: 815hp
Max torque: 800Nm
Power-train: Rear-wheel-drive
Transmission: Seven-speed twin-clutch
Length: 4,611 metres
Width: 1,944 metres
Luggage space: 50 cubic metres
Max. speed: 327 km/h
Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 2.8 s
Fuel consumption: Not given
C02 emissions: Not given
Price: €1.7m
Safety: Twin airbags, ESP, air brake
Comfort: Air-conditioning, rear-view camera, wind deflectors