The Artura packs McLaren’s very latest hybrid technology. Jack Evans finds out.
Even McLaren isn’t able to avoid the push towards electrification that is shaping the motoring landscape. Though famed for its lightweight, powerful and distinctly petrol-powered supercars, the Woking-based firm is fully aware of the need for a little battery assistance, which is why its new hybrid model – the Artura – is so crucial.
With cars like the Ferrari 296 GTB dead in its sights, the Artura definitely means business. At the very core of the Artura sits – as we’ve already touched upon – that all-important battery-assisted engine setup, but around that comes a boatload of typical McLaren touches such as super-lightweight materials and an incredibly driver-focused seating position. It’s also designed with aerodynamics at the forefront, too, yet the exterior remains classically ‘McLaren’ in its execution.
Inside, we’ve got some new tech to address some holes in previous infotainment offerings on older McLarens and help to make this new ‘Series Production’ car – which has a more widespread launch than some of the firm’s more specific models – easier to use on a day-to-day basis.
McLarens and V8 engines go together like bread and butter, but for the Artura it’s an altogether different dish. Rather than the twin-turbocharged V8 engine that we’ve become used to, there’s a more compact V6 unit which is coupled to an electric motor and a small battery. McLaren states that you could get up to 19 miles of electric-only range, too, while consumption and emissions figures of 61.4mpg and 104g/km are very impressive for a car of this type.
But this is still a car very much focused on performance. You get 671bhp overall when you blend petrol and electric power, while a zero to 60mph time of three seconds flat is more than enough to keep the Artura well within the supercar category.
Despite its next-generation powertrain, the Artura feels far more connected to the road than you might think. Much of this can be attributed to its regular hydraulic steering – something McLaren remains committed too – which gives you an incredible sense of what’s going on with the front wheels. There’s steering weight, too, but it’s more ‘realistic’ than other cars which have this sensation electronically applied.
It’s also very pleasant to be able to drive the Artura around on electric-only power as it’s not a sensation you usually have in a supercar. However, when you need it there’s more than enough performance on offer with the combination of petrol and electric power providing some serious energy when you step on the throttle pedal.
There’s no mistaking the Artura as any other type of car – it’s definitely a McLaren. Could that be classed as a reason to find it a little boring in design? Perhaps. But you can’t fault the Artura for its presence, particularly in the matte black finish that our test car was completed in.
It’s got a distinctly superhero-esque feel to it from the outside as if it should be starring as some masked crimefighter’s transport of choice. It might’ve been nice to have pushed the envelope slightly from other McLaren designs, but it’s definitely been executed well.
As we’ve touched upon, the Artura’s cabin is designed around the driver. The main screen ahead of you has handy rocker-style controls for the various driver modes which can be adjusted without having to take your hands away from the wheel – they’re very intuitive and easy to use. Plus, the wheel itself is pleasantly free of any type of buttons, with just a thin-rimmed design left to allow you fully enjoy the act of driving.
It’s definitely a stripped-back affair and though the one-piece Clubsport seats provide more support than you might think from their look and feel, it’s still a very performance-orientated place to be rather than an outright comfort-focused area.
The sky’s the limit with the Artura – just as it is with the rest of the McLaren range, in fairness – with all manner of colours and trims there to choose from. Of course, you can also go through McLaren Special Vehicle Operations – MSO – which opens up a whole new area of customisation and options.
But in more ‘regular’ Artura models you still get loads of features, such as 10-spoke lightweight alloy wheels and a 10-inch driver instrument cluster. The eight-inch infotainment screen is much easier to use than the ones fitted to earlier McLarens, but it’s still outpaced by systems fitted to even ‘regular’ hatchbacks, with relatively limited functionality only being helped by the standard fit wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Artura showcases what we can expect to see from McLaren over the next couple of years. In typical McLaren fashion, the hybrid powertrain is almost surgically designed, while the overall finish of the car is just what you’d expect from this supercar maker.
The electrical system is definitely here to aid performance – rather than efficiency overall – but it’s that ability to run on battery-only power that gives another depth to the McLaren experience. As a sign of things to come, it’s definitely an exciting vehicle.