1. The numbers are deadly serious
Worried McLaren may have lost its way and built something like a two-seat Toyota Prius? Don’t. Yes, its new supercar is a plug-in hybrid, able to drive on electric power alone. But the Artura is also ferociously fast. A total system power output of 671bhp puts it way ahead of the car it effectively replaces, the 570S, and not far off the flagship 720S.
The numbers are almost in hypercar territory – 0-62mph in 3.0 seconds flat (0.2sec faster than the 570S, and only a tenth down on the Ferrari F8 Tributo), 0-124mph in 8.3 seconds (more than a second quicker than the 570S) and 205mph flat-out. It’s a plug-in hybrid, but not as we know it.
2. A hybrid, yes, but on McLaren’s terms
While it may not look particularly ground-breaking, the Artura represents a complete reboot for McLaren. Gone is the old V8 engine, in comes the hybrid powertrain (going forward, every new McLaren will be electrified to some degree) and everything, from the carbonfibre chassis to the cockpit, is brand new. And while a couple of previous McLarens have been hybrids, the Artura uses next-generation technology – its axial-flux electric motor, for example, is 33% more power-dense than the McLaren’s P1’s.
But equally, the team behind the Artura hasn’t forgotten what it is that makes a good McLaren great. At 1395kg dry the new car’s light, particularly for a hybrid (the 570S weighs 1313kg dry). The hybrid system accounts for some 130kg, but the new V6 engine is 40kg lighter than the outgoing V8, so the net penalty from the new powertrain is just 90kg. Unlike the Honda NSX or Ferrari SF90, the Artura uses just one electric motor, on the rear axle, so it’s lighter and rear-wheel drive, not four-wheel drive – a very McLaren decision.
3. It can do all the electric party tricks
Perhaps more relevant than the new McLaren’s 205mph top speed is the functionality its part-electric powertrain brings. The electric motor offers 94bhp and 166lb ft of torque, but there’s a lot more to it than simply adding power. On a full charge there’s the potential for 19 miles of near-silent driving in E-Mode, at speeds of up to 81mph. The motor can also turn backwards, for reverse, so McLaren’s engineers were able to design a transmission without a reverse gear, and pop in an eighth forward gear without adding weight.
In Comfort mode the car shuffles between petrol and electric power, for easy-going efficiency. But switch up to the Sport or Track drive modes (via new controls on each side of the driver’s display, which you can toggle with your hands still on the wheel) and the electric motor’s instant torque help gives the Artura the sharpest throttle response of any McLaren yet, its hefty punch coming in the moment you put your foot down.
4. New car, new chapter
That the Artura has a name and not a number, unlike most previous McLarens, is indicative of a new direction. As well as being a performance hybrid early adopter, McLaren is working to simplify its range, to establish its model names, as Porsche has done with the likes of the 911, and to push upmarket – the Artura is priced from £182,500.]
All of which will count for nothing if the Artura isn’t sensational to drive – watch this space.