McLaren Artura review

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The Artura is the first electrified McLaren. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

The Artura takes McLaren into a new Hybrid era. Despite the familiar looks, everything is new from the ground up and there's full EV capability in town. Yet it's as sharp a track tool as any other McLaren supercar. Worried that the EV era would dull down driver's cars of this kind? Here's reassurance.

Background

McLaren has at last moved into a new era. The Woking maker has brought us quite a few different models since it burst onto the supercar scene back in 2010 but all have been variants of the same basic recipe. The Artura is different. The shape might be familiar but everything beneath it is different, this being the first series production Hybrid produced by marque. And the first car since the original MP4-12C to share nothing with any previous model.

Modern McLaren now slot into three categories - GT, Supercar and Ultimate. The Artura sits with the 720S and the 765LT in the Supercar section, but is different from those two V8 showroom stablemates in every conceivable way. It has a Hybrid V6, you can plug it in, the chassis, suspension and electrical system are all redesigned from scratch and it sets a design template for all future McLarens. Sounds promising.

Driving Experience

There's no familiar twin turbo V8 nestling in the rear aluminium subframe here. Instead, we're treated to McLaren's first 3.0-litre twin turbo V6, its first direct injection engine and a combustion unit that produces 577bhp and can rev as high as 8,500rpm. The transmission is completely new to McLaren too, an 8-speed dual clutch gearbox that incorporates a clever e- differential. Plus a 94bhp axial flux e-motor that acts as a reverse gear and creates a total powertrain output of 671bhp and 720Nm of torque. 62mph from rest flashes by in just 3.0s, 124mph takes 8.3s and the top speed is 205mph.

As usual with McLaren, there are selectable handling and powertrain modes. In either case, you choose between 'Comfort', 'Sport' and 'Track', with an extra 'e-mode' available in the 'Powertrain' menu, allowing battery-only driving for short distances in urban travel. One feature that isn't new on this car is McLaren's trademark hydraulically-assisted steering. The brand thinks that no electric steering system can provide this set-up's level of driver feedback - and they could be right. It's combined with a bespoke version of McLaren's 'Proactive Damping System', which works so well that from launch, this Artura was credited with class-leading standards of ride. Braking performance should also be exceptional, thanks to carbon ceramic brakes with lightweight aluminium calipers. Get on a circuit and there's a 15-stage Variable Drift Control system to play with too.

Design and Build

Given how different the Artura is from other McLaren models under the skin, you might expect its exterior styling to be an equally radical departure. But no. The low nose, high tail stance is familiar, as is the short wheelbase, the overall effect giving the car an almost 'shrink-wrapped' appearance. As usual, there are the signature McLaren dihedral doors, which open closer to the body and house mirrors that fold in more tightly.

Inside, there's the expected driver-focused cockpit, with newly designed Clubsports seats and a grippy steering wheel stripped of the usual buttons. The new infotainment and connectivity system uses two high definition screens. And the Active Panel set-up used in other McLarens for switching drive modes has been replaced by a rocker switch mounted up near the instrument binnacle. You'll need to pack light: there are no rear seats of course. And only 160-litres of luggage space.

Market and Model

The Artura costs from around £190,000, about £50,000 less than its Plug-in Supercar arch-rival, the Ferrari 296 GTB. The price just quoted is for the standard model. There are three further specification options if you want to build on that. 'Performance' has a sporting, functional aesthetic; 'TechLux' has a focus on technical luxury; and 'Vision' displays a more avant-garde and adventurous look and feel.

Standard features on the base model include 10-spoke super lightweight forged alloy wheels that are 19-inches at the front and 20-inches at the rear, come shod with Pirelli P-Zero tyres and feature carbon ceramic brake discs and black branded calipers. Launch control, cruise control, an automatic speed limiter and Variable Drift Control also come as standard. As do automatic LED headlamps with levelling. Inside, the cabin's swathed in Alcantara and the infotainment set-up includes navigation, a McLaren Audio System, voice control and 'Apple CarPlay'/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring. Plus there's also dual-zone air conditioning and a power adjustable steering column.

All of the three extra cost packages we mentioned include Nappa leather upholstery. Individual options include Adaptive LED headlamps, a 'vehicle lift' system to help you over speed humps, power-folding mirrors, a rear view camera, a 360-degree parking assist system, adaptive cruise control and a Bowers & Wilkins 12-speaker audio system.

Cost of Ownership

Did you ever think you'd be reading about a McLaren Super Sports Car capable of 61.5mpg on the combined cycle and 104g/km of CO2? That's what the Artura can deliver, thanks to the contribution of its e-motor. It always starts in e-mode and if you stay in that setting, you'll theoretically be able to drive for up to 19 miles at speeds of up to 81mph without troubling the V6 engine. Plugged in, the 7.4kWh battery will need two and a half hours to recharge itself to 80% with a standard EVSE cable - and you can recharge it using the engine on the move too.

The e-motor isn't the only thing contributing to efficiency here. McLaren has managed to keep the dry weight of this car to under 1.4 tonnes - on a par with non-Hybrid rivals. Much of that is down to the Artura's new 'MCLA' 'McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture' chassis, a carbon fibre monocoque with aluminium crash structures at the front and aluminium rear subframes, plus a clever electrical system that uses ethernet cabling instead of traditional wiring looms.

Group 50 insurance means that buyers will be keeping their brokers in Beaujolais. Of course, many owners will acquire this McLaren as just one of a stable of models and will have negotiated their own multi-car deal with their insurer. You don't get the seven year 'free' servicing package that Ferrari offers, so you'll have to pick up the tab yourself for routine maintenance, which will be required every 12,400 miles or 12 months, depending on which comes round sooner. Every second year the car will need a full oil change too. With expensive consumables and high labour rates, you'll certainly need to know what you're letting yourself in for. What else? Well the paint surface is warranted for three years, visible cosmetic corrosion for five years and perforation corrosion of the vehicle body is covered for ten years. There's a 5 year vehicle warranty and a 6 year battery warranty.

Summary

The Artura represents the future, not only of McLaren but of the way that supercars are going to evolve over the next few years. The PHEV tech has been cleverly incorporated without undue weight or a needlessly huge battery. Yet it's effective enough to deliver a set of efficiency stats a supermini might be happy with. At the same time as retaining the potential for this car to still drive like a McLaren should.

A rival Ferrari 296 GTB also has a Plug-in Hybrid powertrain, but costs a lot more and doesn't go quite as far on battery power. The Artura seems to have the edge in every way but ultimately, it'll come down to your preference in bonnet badge. If that lies with McLaren, you won't be disappointed in what's served up here.

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