This past week was a big one for McLaren. First, the Formula 1 team revealed their challenger for the 2021 season, then Lando Norris played the guitar, and finally, the automotive side released a brand new supercar: the Artura. Now for some reason, everyone seems to be making quite a big fuss about the Artura. So, naturally, I thought it would be a good idea for me to take a closer look at this new release and share my passionate and occasionally irreverent set of opinions.
Before we begin talking about why the Artura has drawn the attention of so many gear heads, we first need to contextualize its place in the supercar world. Firstly, it should be stated that the Artura does effectively replace the Sports Series that once housed models like the 570S and 600LT. In terms of its role in the McLaren lineup, it will still sit under the quicker 720S but also above the entry-level GT. So especially when we take the $225,000 price tag into account we can start to consider some basic comparisons with other supercars like the Acura NSX, Audi R8, Lamborghini Huracan, and Ferrari F8 Tributo.
The Artura, like pretty much every other McLaren, is a technical masterpiece. Usually with a new car one or two components receive a noticeable upgrade, but the Artura really does represent a momentous leap in development for McLaren. They deviated from many of their engineering norms and have sent themselves down a new path. Of course, all of this means I have quite a bit to write about.
If you pay any attention to automotive news, you will have heard that the Artura is a plug-in hybrid. Now I know what you’re thinking, McLaren has designed a hybrid system before, namely for the mental P1 hypercar. However, the system that has been designed for the Artura is still brand new and unsurprisingly brilliant. McLarens of the past have used a 90 degree twin-turbo V8. This means that each four-cylinder bank was separated by an angle of 90 degrees. With the Artura, McLaren is now using a 120 degree twin-turbo V6. Thanks to this wider angle between the cylinder banks, the engine can reduce exhaust pressure losses and the car’s center of gravity can sit lower down. By itself, this twin-turbo V6 can produce up to 577 hp, which is actually more than what the V8 engine in the old 570S could produce. Of course, the Artura still has an equally clever electric motor that gives it an even more significant improvement in overall performance.
This electric motor is known more formally as an axial flux motor. Without getting into too much detail, this type of motor was used because of its superior power to weight ratio in addition to a favorable power to volume ratio. When paired with a 7.4 kWh battery pack, it produces an additional 97 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque. It goes without saying that the hybrid system is impressive, but this “more is less” philosophy that McLaren is using has not been solely restricted to the power unit.
With the Artura, McLaren has introduced a brand new tub chassis that they are calling the McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture (MCLA). As you would expect, this new chassis is lighter than what has been used in past models, but what is really remarkable is the lengths McLaren went to in order to achieve this feat. In 2018, McLaren actually opened a whole new division called the McLaren Composites Technology Center (MCTC) so that they could control every aspect of this new chassis and continue to further research carbon composite materials on their own. All of this means that even though the Artura comes with an electric motor and battery pack, it is still lighter than other competitors like the Ferrari F8 Tributo and Lamborghini Huracan.
There is a lot to like about the new Artura. The engineering nerd in me loves what McLaren has been able to accomplish with its latest assignment. Even though deliveries will only start later this year, I can already say with a reasonable level of confidence that the Artura will be quite good fun to drive. As I learned through my experience with the MP4-12C, McLaren designs cars that are wonderfully clinical. That might sound a bit confusing, but I mean that as a compliment. McLarens are unapologetically focused on speed. They should pin you into your seat when you go around a corner and give you whiplash when you open up the throttle on a straight. This, in my opinion, has always been a key trait of every road car McLaren has ever produced. So by adding in the benefits of an electric motor and creating a drivetrain that is insanely light, that core characteristic can only get better.
Before I wrap up, I must admit there are two features I don’t really like about the Artura. Firstly, I don’t think it looks all that spectacular. I think it looks a bit too much like the old 570S which I didn’t like in terms of styling either. Secondly, “Artura” is a bit of an odd name in my opinion. It’s like when Alfa Romeo named one of their concept cars “Gloria.” It just seems a bit wrong. That being said, in the grand scheme of things, we can forgive McLaren for making these mistakes. In truth, the McLaren Artura is well worth getting excited about. It is McLaren taking a big step forward, and challenging all of its other cohorts in the supercar world. So as someone who thinks it would be hilarious to see the Italians (namely Lamborghini and Maserati) make a plug-in hybrid, I will be patiently waiting.
Before you head over to the comments section in regards to that last sentence, the LaFerrari was not a plug-in hybrid and had no electric-only mode because according to Ferrari these capabilities “did not fit the mission of the model.”
“Royal Opening For Mclaren Automotive’S New £50M Carbon Fibre Innovation And Production Centre”. Mclaren.Com, 2018, https://www.mclaren.com/group/news/articles/royal-opening-mclaren-automotives-carbon-fibre-innovation-and-production-centre/. Accessed 21 Feb 2021.
“2022 Mclaren Artura: What We Know So Far”. Car And Driver, 2021, https://www.caranddriver.com/mclaren/artura. Accessed 21 Feb 2021.
“671-HP Mclaren Artura Plug-In Hybrid Breaks New Ground, Stays Light “. Car And Driver, 2021, https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a35522372/2022-mclaren-artura-revealed/. Accessed 21 Feb 2021.
Markus, F., 2021. 2022 McLaren Artura First Look: Stretching the Supercar Envelope. [online] motortrend.com. Available at: <https://www.motortrend.com/news/2022-mclaren-artura-first-look-review/> [Accessed 21 February 2021].