from the march 2020 issue of car and driver.
mclaren is determined to maximize minimalism in the coming $1.7 million 804-hp elva. in that pursuit, it has removed a windshield from its list of standard equipment. this poses an issue familiar to anyone who has ridden a motorcycle without a full-face helmet: wind is cold and insects hurt when you hit them going fast.
so the company came up with a clever solution that provides both the open-air feel of a glassless car as well as some protection from small bugs and windburn. it's called the active air management system (aams). it's not a pithy name—ferrari nabbed virtual wind shield for its monza sp1 and sp2—but bad branding doesn't stop mclaren's system from doing its job.
we rode in an elva mule with a prototype version of the aams on the snetterton circuit in england. with the system disabled on a bracing 45-degree day, a 30-mph pace was uncomfortable and a 70-mph one bordered on painful. the aams worked well: at 30 mph, it felt as though the elva had a windshield. at 50, we could still talk normally with the driver. and at 70, although breezy, there was much less buffeting than when the aams was off. reaching a hand upward, we could feel the boundary between the relatively calm air around the cockpit and the full slipstream, just like sticking your hand above the windshield in a convertible.
mclaren is developing a glass windshield for elva buyers who prefer solid protection from flying gravel or for those who live in parts of the world that mandate one. but the purest form of the car will have a windshield made of nothing but air.
air enters the lower intake through a channel that rotates it by 130 degrees. the intake channel narrows as it goes, increasing the air's velocity by about 5 percent.
with no fan, the system requires speed to work. at parking-lot speeds, the deflector is stowed, improving forward visibility. at speeds beyond 70 mph, the curtain is ineffective, so bring a helmet.
air leaves through a sizable vent in the middle of the clamshell hood. in front of that is a motorized air dam, which pops up at speed to create a low-pressure zone. this zone gives the ducted air the room it needs to deflect airflow around the cockpit, so the passengers won't feel excessive turbulence.
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