Even though the entry-level Artura comes in at $65,000 less than its 720S big brother, it’s a far superior supercar.
Don’t get me wrong, the 720S popped my supercar-cherry so it’ll always have a special place in my heart. It fiendishly lulled me into a false sense of security that its $300,000+ price tag might actually be a better investment than a house, but sadly my bank balance quickly reminded me otherwise.
The Artura however has all the familiar McLaren features we’ve come to know and love: the aerodynamic styling, the plush ergonomic interior and of course, the insane speed and power. What separates the Artura from the rest of its siblings and supercar rivals is its all-new hybrid drivetrain.
I know, I know, you hear hybrid and you think Prius – catastrophically unsexy – but hybrid supercars go beyond sexy, they’re dangerous. Electrifying the drivetrain has unleashed the gearbox’s true potential, like Bradley Cooper (sexy) in Limitless. Instead of the standard seven-speed automatic, the reverse gear is taken care of by the 94bhp electric motor which frees up space for an eight-speed gearbox.
Unlike the Speedtail that uses an electric motor to maximise its top speed, the Artura’s battery is all about boosting low rev range performance. It can be used in an electric-only mode with a decent range of 19 miles but it mostly comes in handy for not waking your neighbours up in the morning.
A common criticism of the 720S was that the V8 engine was somewhat disappointing in the sound department, even revving it in a tunnel with windows down. Thankfully, the Artura’s V6 is more than loud enough to cause a scene! The 577bhp V6 has been redesigned as a wide angled ‘V’ to lower the car’s centre of gravity and make room for the raucous twin turbos nestled in its cleavage. McLaren’s “hot vee” is shrouded with heat shields, so the heat doesn’t dissipate throughout the engine bay and cook the V6. The 900°C (1650°F) air is instead funnelled out through a chimney directly over the vee, creating an immensely satisfying Top Gun-esq heatwave you can see billowing out the back in the rear view mirror.
The truth is, on public roads, there’s rarely an occasion to really push the Artura. It’ll comfortably cruise on the highway at 100mph without breaking a sweat, but this car’s made for more than driving in a straight line, it longs for a demanding track. The electro-hydraulic steering is preternaturally responsive and the steering wheel returns nothing but the grippiest feedback, ideal for eating up corners. Together the V6 and electric motor create 671bhp, rocketing the car from 0-60mph in 3.0 seconds. Find a stretch of open road and 124mph comes hurtling towards you in 8.3 seconds, but you’ll be glad to know it tops out at a life saving electronically-limited 205mph.
An enviable trait the Artura has inherited from its McLaren racing forefathers is its complete and utter lack of body roll. It’s such an unusual sensation, given that every other car you drive will have at least some body roll. The short wheelbase, extremely low centre of gravity and carefully designed aero features mean the Artura doesn’t even need a spoiler. Of course, there’s a certain adolescent glee in getting a spoiler to pop up, but the Artura strips away superfluous distractions so nothing pulls focus from the stunning driving experience.