It’s been a decade since McLaren launched the P1, which is, in my opinion, the best-looking car they’ve ever produced. Comparable in some way to the mighty Concord, the P1 was ahead of its time, delivering scintillating performance from a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Fortunately, it’s only taken McLaren 10 years to refine their technology – offering hybrid supercar performance to the masses – in a series production form dubbed the McLaren Artura, a synthesised name where art and future tech combine.
Announced at the end of 2020, the McLaren Artura was unveiled in February 2021 – a culmination of learnings and experience post the mighty P1. As expected, the project was hampered by the relentless handbrake that was COVID, with journalists unable to get behind the wheel until mid-2022. The silver lining for buyers…an innovative & usable supercar that has been poked, prodded, and intensely scrutinised, to ensure the future of the brand is as thrilling and failsafe as possible.
Experiencing cars of this calibre is impossible without a closed road or racetrack, so I was delighted to receive an invitation to sample the McLaren Artura in a private session at Sandown. Familiar with the outgoing 720S, and ‘Sports Series’ cars, as well as the McLaren GT – in which I covered 1700km – I was eager to understand where the Artura fit in. Thankfully, as it was confirmed the very same day, not a replacement for the 720S, but a new direction for the Sports Series family with a practical, performance-packed powertrain.
Sitting alongside the McLaren GT in price, and nipping at the heels of the 720S in capability, the McLaren Artura is the newest ‘all-new’ series production car we’ve seen since the MP4-12C. An all-new carbon tub that weighs just 82kg (aka McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture produced at McLaren Composites Technology Centre) receives a newly designed combustion engine, the in-house built M630 – a 3.0-litre twin-turbo ‘hot-vee’ V6. It’s married to a ‘Flux’ e-motor that gives the Artura a pure electric range of approximately 31km, and a total output of 500kw.
Pure electric range is nice to have, but it pales in comparison to the niceties delivered by an additional 225nM of torque, propelling the Artura from an amble to a sprint in a matter of milliseconds, and 0-100km/h in 3 seconds. Harvesting energy on overrun, McLaren says the e-motor helps deliver 90% of the Artura’s available torque instantaneously, and from behind the wheel, it’s abruptly apparent they ain’t lying.
Revving to 8,500rpm, the blip of the gearbox and flick of the paddle to follow results in utter glee. You get to enjoy the soundtrack of the combustion engine, the e-motor just helps unleashes the torque. It’s just so quick! (As you can gauge from my reactions in the video above). Rounding turn 12 in first gear, pulling through second into third, and then unleashing fourth as you catapult out of turn 13 onto the straight is up there with the most exhilarating driving I’ve ever done. They say the Artura has an 8th gear, but I never found it on the way to 250km/h plus.
A clown’s pocket of power, the Artura also leaves you flabbergasted in its ability to steer with superb vision from the refined driving position, as well as a new rear suspension set-up that improves traction and agility. The focus on driving optics has also been improved, with drive and suspension modes just a stretch of the finger away, accessed via a new digital instrument binnacle that moves with the steering column.
Thoughtful storage pockets and cup holders also feature alongside a vertical 8-inch infotainment system with Apple Carplay. An optional ‘Clubsport’ seat with lumbar support has been patented but wasn’t available on either of the cars I drove but I can tell you that’s a box I’d be ticking if I planned to use the Artura even once a week. It’s also the first McLaren to feature advanced driver assistance systems and adaptive cruise control. Huzzah!
In terms of reliability, McLaren has put their money where their mouth is with a 5-year warranty and a 3-year service plan included in the purchase price. You can also extend the warranty to 15 years which is fully transferable – an option that will undoubtedly bolster future value. Another option unlikely to be left off is the sports exhaust. With no augmentation utilised you’ll want as much aurally out of the V6 as possible. In fact, I’m baffled as to why they didn’t just include it as standard, knowing it’s going to be the number one reason for negative press, and the biggest pain point for prospective buyers. That’s not to say it doesn’t sound good, it does, I just couldn’t say how good it could sound because I wasn’t sure what I was listening to.
To appreciate the McLaren Artura, you really need to see it in the flesh. You can’t gauge its proportions in photos or see how well the individual pieces of sculpted aluminium drape to achieve Artura’s dramatic presence. In my opinion, it’s the most exciting and innovative series production McLaren yet, and aside from the soundtrack, better than the 570 in every way.
With Artura tech in the mix, it’s safe to say 750S is going to be a bloody good piece of kit.