McLaren Artura Drive Review : Art of Speed [COTY2022]
Singapore - Verily, it is a sign of the times when two sportscars in our “Cars of the Year – Singapore-Style” line-up are plug-in hybrids.
Like the Ferrari 296 GTB, the McLaren Artura is another hybrid petrol-electric sportscar to wield the mega(watt)-might of electricity in a manner that befits its status as a performance car.
Don’t forget, the point of a sportscar is to pursue the limits of performance by optimising, erm, current (pun intended!) technology... and it just so happens the flavour of the decade is electric mobility.
It isn’t McLaren’s first plug-in vehicle – there was the P1 from 2013 and 2018’s Speedtail – but it is the brand’s first ‘regular’ production hybrid, because its earlier efforts were limited edition exotics under the rarefied ‘Ultimate’ series.
In the same way the 296 GTB isn’t intended to replace the F8, we’re told the Artura isn’t meant to replace the 570S, which was formerly nestled within the ‘Sport Series’ range, alongside the upper-tier ‘Super Series’ and rarefied ‘Ultimate Series’.
Today, a quick check on the website shows just three categories: GT, Supercars (which catches every current model from Artura to 765LT) and Ultimate (for the Senna, Elva, Speedtail).
Long-time McLaren fans will notice the Artura (like the Elva, Senna, Sabre and Speedtail) no longer features an alpha-numeric model name – it is a portmanteau of ‘Art’ and ‘Future’.
To us, it imparts some personality to the model beyond the clinical precision implied by the original naming convention.
If McLaren retained the ‘old’ style of naming, it would be a predictable and never-ending escalation of numbers, since each successive model is expected to surpass its predecessor.
Besides, considering the ‘modern’ McLaren brand is just over a decade old (since the launch of the MP4-12C), we reckon that some concessions can be made for it to sort-out its naming style.
Design-wise, the Artura features a distinct visual identity intended to reflect the electrified status of the car. It isn’t merely an evolution of the 720S/GT’s and is far removed from the 650S/570S era of cars.
The use of Superforming allows the designers to create more fluid and organic curves and contours, while having just eight exterior panels means there are fewer shut-lines to the Artura to achieve a purer design.
The Artura features a twist to the 600LT’s talking point exhaust pipes – a ‘chimney’ to vent the hot air generated by the twin-monoscroll turbos mounted ‘hot-in-V’ in the M630 3.0-litre V6.
If you’ve skipped to the tech specifications, you’re probably wondering if I copied and pasted the 296 GTB’s engine stats by mistake.
Well, if it isn’t by happy coincidence, it’s probably some sort of a golden ratio that has led to both the 296 and the Artura featuring the same twin-turbo 2993cc V6 displacement and 7.4kWh electric motor!
However, considering the two cars are targeted at different segments (the 296 at F8 customers and the Artura at 570S customers), it’s not surprising the power outputs are different, with the Artura tuned for a system total of 680hp and 720Nm (a nice bump above the 570S and 620R’s 570hp and 620hp respectively).
The Artura is the first of the electrified McLarens to be built around the gorgeous, EV-ready MCLA (McLaren Carbonfibre Lightweight Architecture) tub, which can accommodate all the additional hardware that comes with an electrified powertrain.
We expect future electrified models to be built around this same MCLA tub, as well as feature a similar engine/electric motor combination, just as the ICE models from before saw service of the V8 in different states of tune.
Powertrains may change but one constant we’ve come to expect from McLaren are the dihedral-opening doors, which add plenty of street-cred and panache to the sportscar.
The cockpit is reminiscent of the Elva’s and does away with the Active Panel to toggle between the different Engine and Transmission (or Powertrain and Handling for ‘P’ and ‘H’ if you prefer) programmes.
However, the sportscar’s VDC (Variable Drift Control) is still controlled via the centre-mounted touchscreen display, which lets you vary the degree of ‘tail-out’ you can ‘safely’ manage within your core competencies – all we can say is, it’s pretty spot-on…!
Rocker switches on both sides of the instrument binnacle let you switch between modes, including one for all-electric (in addition to Comfort, Sport and Track modes). We understand that McLaren didn’t want to clutter up the steering wheel with controls to distract you from the task of driving.
Unless you toggle it to Sport or Track before firing it up, the Artura is a genteel machine that starts-up in Electric and you can even waft around silently at speeds of up to 120km/h within a 30km range as you’re stealthily departing on early morning drives (or returning home late at night!).
Don’t be fooled by the Artura’s seemingly demure demeanour though, because it’ll quickly demonstrate it is a devastating force of nature when it unleashes its full might.
In full ‘rage’ mode, the exhaust is tuned for a rousing impression as both the compact (and at 15.4kg, rather lightweight) Axial Flux e-motor and twin-turbo’d V6 work in concert to achieve maximum forward propulsion in a display of seriously beastly performance.
The e-motor’s 95hp and up to 225Nm to work as a torque filler to bridge the gap between standstill and the point the turbos stir to full spool, which means an uninterrupted surge of rib-tickling acceleration and a resulting ludicrous level of speed that you can carry into the corners.
The Artura has a distinct McLaren personality, which means it’s capable of savagely deep, precision cuts into every corner with no fuss or fanfare, unless that is, you decide to indulge in some theatrics.
The combination of new rear double wishbones, the E-diff and the satisfyingly analogue hydraulic steering is a potent one that guarantees ample feel when the digital VDC works to rein-in your wayward tendencies!
We wouldn’t go so far as to say such slideways hooniganism was frowned on in the earlier MP4-12C/12C cars.
However, McLaren’s philosophy has wandered from the pure, clean and tidy slow-in-fast-out style of clinical driving to the slidier, salacious and altogether more soulful side of things – which means more merriment for a lot of us who have grown to appreciate the Artura's Art of Speed.
PHOTOS Zotiq Visuals
Engine 2993cc, V6, twin-turbo, electric motor
Electric Motor Axial Flux e-motor, 7.4kWh
System Power/rpm 680hp/7500rpm
System Torque/rpm 720Nm/2250rpm
Transmission 8spd Speed Seamless Shift SSG dual-clutch
Top Speed 330km/h (electronically limited)
Fuel Consumption 4.6l/100km