Dr.Projectile and Mr.Hyde
Picture the moment. It’s Friday 14th of July I’m strapped into the passenger seat of a McLaren Artura wearing a racing helmet and crossing my fingers like never before. Ahead is the starting line of the 2023 Goodwood Festival of Speed Hillclimb. We accelerate and then…wallop.
The McLaren Artura hybrid supercar has been a long time coming in development but the specs look intriguing: a brand new 3.0-litre M630 V6 petrol engine hooked up to an E-motor and battery pack that offers new levels of lower grunt when accelerating off the line with 671bhp and 720Nm torque powering the rear wheels and revs skywards to 8,500rpm.
It’s the new petrol/electric hybridization that gives the Artura a separate McLaren personality of its own. Essentially, the axial flux E-motor used differs from a less effective radial E-motor with, according to McLaren, 33 percent greater power density per kilo than the legendary P1. The result is rapid surges of acceleration that overcome the minute momentary lag some supercars display off the line. A claimed class best kerb weight (DIN) of 1,498kg and as ever with hybrid petrols a fanciful mpg combined at 4.6l/100km or 61.5mpg EU WLTP economy. Forget it, you’ll never achieve that. Expect 19 miles of electric range from the 7.4kWh battery range. The Artura’s price in the UK starts from £189,200.
The car gets a 5-year vehicle warranty, a 6-year battery warranty, and a 3-year service plan is included. But the car’s gestation has been pockmarked with software glitches reliability maladies. The company’s CEO Michael Leiters has been at the helm at McLaren since July 2022 and is insistent that reliability needs to improve. He cut his teeth at Porsche and more recently Ferrari as its CTO.
To show how well the Artura performs McLaren invited me to ride shotgun up the hill at Goodwood. It’s a big moment. Back in the car I’m seconds away from being catapulted up the Hillclimb by one of McLaren’s nonchalant drivers. He’s chatty and relaxed, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel despite the atrocious weather outside. We get the nod and blast off the line and right into a movie clip of my life that accidentally hit the fast-forward button with corners flashing by at speed like a strobe fitted with multi-colour lights. The dichotomy between the high speeds and the saturated hillclimb surface is at odds with the Artura’s behaviour. The car feels planted and slightly aloof while shrugging off the greasy track. The car slides a bit and a simple steering correction places the car where the driver wants – all done at dizzying speeds. As a display of competence this was a 48-sheet poster for this hybrid supercar.
McLaren describes the Artura as the company’s first “series-production High-Performance Hybrid (HPH) supercar” or as we might describe it, a foretaste of the future. Claimed performance is 0-62mph in just 3.0 seconds and a top speed of 205mph.
The following day the Goodwood Festival of Speed is cancelled due to a storm warning. It’s a blessing in disguise as I get to test drive the Artura on my own. The car’s high points are the millimetrically precise steering which transmits faithfully every small minutia from the road’s surface. So too is the clever hybrid/petrol powertrain that, while displaying some judder in transition, gives the Artura a 21st Century Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. One moment you are cruising in silence and the next it’s thrusts you into fearsome propulsion. Simply extend your right forefinger from the steering wheel to the switch located atop the new instrument binnacle and click between Electric, Comfort, Sport and Track modes. In Electric mode it hummed quietly through small villages and then turned back to Sport growling like a bear in a cave with staggering thrust once past them.
The interior is new with bucket seats that allow you to sit lower and deeper back in the car unlike the Lamborghini Huracán. Seen for the first time is a new 8-inch HD touchscreen that looks identical a tablet PC. I would have preferd the screen to be bigger. One note of caution: those fantastic dihedral doors may look cool but getting in and out is harder than you’d think.
My time was brief in the Artura but it’s a thrilling supercar to drive. The multi-faceted petrol and electric modes transform the car into a usable daily commuter. It feels a technical and less emotional car to drive than other supercar rivals from Italy and closer to a Porsche. Nevertheless, I gelled with the car – liking the curiously aloof personality – as it successfully lowers the drawbridge for future electrified assisted propulsion of future McLaren cars. The more I drove the Artura the more I yearned to discover its hidden abilities. Some supercars divulge every nuance immediately and just occasionally, as here, the Artura left me wanting more time to unearth its talents. That’s what separates a great car from the greatest. Potential buyers have good reason to get behind the wheel of the Artura and consider adding it to their own list of desirable supercars.
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