Say what? Yes, the McLaren Elva has no windscreen, but its air canopy keeps you comfortable. That folks is a marvel of modern engineering.
In the first episode of the McLaren Tech Club series, Director of Engineering Design, Dan Parry-Williams shares the secrets behind the new supercar’s engineering that make the Elva a comfortable drive, event at 70 mph.
“With absolutely nothing between you and the wind coming at you, would it be possible to create a virtual canopy? That was the challenge we set ourselves with the design of the new Elva,” said Parry-Williams.
The Elva has a rear spoiler.Photo courtesy of McLaren
Designers crafted the Elva with the directive of creating a vehicle that punctuated the pleasure of driving. To get to the rawness of the driving experience, McLaren’s team cleared the vehicle of anything that wasn’t a necessity, including the windscreen.
The team set off to try their hand creating a what Parry-Williams calls a “virtual canopy”. In essence, could the team manage the flow of air over the hood of the car in a way to create a near-bubble that would hone that “perfect” driving experience?
The answer was yes.
Enter the active air management system.
Air flows through the front of the car via the air dam and splitter to a hook shaped duct on the hood. When the air exits the vehicle, it is pushed out, away from the driver and passenger, and up at a high rate of speed.
This graphic shows how the Elva responds in a wind tunnel.Photo courtesy of McLaren
Like two storm fronts clashing, the forced air meets the air surrounding the car, rushing toward the traditional driver’s area. At their intersection, the forward forced air is bent backwards by the strength of the rushing air and moves across the top of the Elva where a traditional roof would sit.
“If you’re sitting in the car with the system deployed at, let’s say, 100 km/h you can sit here in relative calm. Your hair, if you have hair,” said the balding Parry-Williams, “is unruffled.”
At higher speeds, a gurney rises from the vent at the front of the car, to further assist with wind control. Higher speeds are welcome, of course, thanks to the car’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine yielding 803 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque.
The entire system can be shut off from inside the car.
At the rear of the Elva is a full width carbon fiber active spoiler that changes position to maintain aerodynamic balance. It can become an airbrake and add stopping power when needed.
McLaren Tech Club – Episode 1 – How the Elva keeps your comfortable at 70mph without a windscreen