Here’s why the McLaren Artura leaves me cold

Good intention. Average execution.

7w ago
26.7K

McLaren cannot seem to win.

First, they release a car with Ferrari-beating performance and people complain that it lacks soul. Then they up the ante by releasing a first-of-its-kind, 903bhp hybrid, widow-maker AND bring back the revered ‘Longtail’ moniker, only for those same keyboard warriors (KBs for short) to complain that all their cars look exactly the same. Ever persistent, they unleash a road-legal racer, a Can-Am-aping roadster, and a 250mph ‘hyper GT’. But it matters not; the McLaren misanthropists redirected their scathing criticism towards McLaren’s questionable reliability.

The recently released Artura supercar is their latest shot at quieting the naysayers.

Has it worked? Err…

What’s the Artura based on?

Not much, apparently.

Conceptually speaking, the Artura effectively replaces the ‘entry-level’ Sports Series range of cars (e.g., 540C, 570S). McLaren, however, is adamant that the Artura is a clean-sheet design and the distillation of everything they have learned thus far.

Is it?

Mostly.

The McLaren Carbon Fibre Lightweight Architecture (MCLA) at its core is all-new. As is the rear suspension and advanced electronic differential, among other key components.

It certainly looks different.

Look again.

People have been complaining that it looks like every McLaren and, to be fair, they have a point; it does. Though I don’t think that’s the problem. McLaren makes some staggering looking things. The problem is that the Artura is a little… fussy.

The front end looks like an amalgamation of 720S, SpeedTail, and 570S. Where the 570S was stunningly simple, the Artura is more aggressive, more complicated, and gives the impression that it’s trying a little too hard.

The rear is more successful, clearly taking inspiration from the Elva hypercar albeit with less-aggressive aerodynamics.

There are moments when I think I am falling for it, and then there are moments I feel absolutely nothing.

How about the engine? I presume that’s still a 4.0 litre V8.

Your presumption is wrong.

Powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 – a first for McLaren – the Artura churns out a healthy 430kW (585PS) and 495Nm of torque. And it sounds, well, terrible.

Raspy and airy, the noise emitted by the Artura brings to mind images of a 50-year chain-smoker. McLaren’s traditional V8 power-plant is hardly the most sonorous of power plants and the new V6 does nothing to buck the trend. Though it’s not the noise that’s left me feeling cold.

It’s the Artura’s powertrain.

What’s wrong with a V6?

Noise aside, there’s nothing particularly ‘wrong’ with the twin-turbocharged V6. However, the Artura’s powertrain is not purely comprised of an internal combustion engine.

The twin-turbocharged V6 is accompanied by an axial flux electric motor that weighs just 15kg and contributes 70kW (93bhp) and 225Nm (166 lb-ft).

The end result is a car that produces a combined 500kW (671bhp) and 720Nm (531lb-ft). That last number is particularly staggering, being 120Nm more than the outgoing 570S. And where the previous car produced its peak torque from 5,000rpm, the Artura manages the same feat from just 2,250rpm.

Translation: the Artura is quick.

Forget 0-100km/h (3 seconds btw), the Artura dispatches 0-200 km/h in 8.3 seconds and will finish the quarter-mile in just 10.7 seconds. Top speed sits at a lofty 330km/h. Impressive stats, though it is worth noting that those figures are about line-ball with McLaren’s 650S from 2014.

It sounds impressive. Why are you underwhelmed?

I’m underwhelmed because it’s a hybrid.

What’s wrong with it being a hybrid?

Ever heard of the Prius?

Oh my days. Here we go…

Listen. When the Toyota Prius burst onto the automotive landscape it was crucified by automotive aficionados like you and me. And for good reason: it was woeful. So terrible, in fact, that it ruined all other hybrids for me, merely by association.

I call it the ‘Prius effect'.

You’re clutching at straws. This cannot be the only reason you’re feeling cold.

You’re right.

While the Artura’s performance is nothing to sneeze at, I am largely underwhelmed because, to me, here in 2021, the word ‘hybrid’ signifies a half-arsed effort.

It’s a toe-dip in the vast lake of electricity.

Toe-dip? It looks like a running leap to me.

Like it or not, the fact of the matter is the automotive world is (largely) going pure EV. The technology is ready.

Take, for instance, Tesla’s recently unveiled (all-electric) Model S Plaid.

Here is a family sedan with 760kW (1,020 hp), capable of 0-100km/h in 2.1 seconds* and a 9.23-second quarter mile. Oh, and ol’ mate Elon reckons it’s capable of lapping the Nurburgring in around seven minutes.

Say what you like about Tesla as a company, those are some tremendously impressive numbers.

Now I am well aware that a Tesla sedan is hardly the Artura’s natural competitor though the comparison begs the question: Aside from meeting emission regulations, what is the advantage of hybrid technology?

When the hybrid P1 came out it was utterly transformative. Its speed was unlike anything we had experienced before. It required a complete recalibration of what we thought was possible in a car bearing a number plate. Now though, McLaren’s ICE-powered 765LT supercar will shame it in a straight line and around a track, it will do it for less than half the price of its grandfather.

What’s your point?

McLaren presents the Artura as the supercar for the next-generation, however, truth be told, it does nothing to move the game forward from the current crop of ICE-powered supercars.

I bet the Artura is fuel-efficient.

It is (5.6L/100km), though consider for a moment some of the Artura’s other specifications:

EV-range stands at a mere 30km. An 80% charge level takes a dismal 2.5 hours with a standard EVSE cable. And despite McLaren’s claim that the shift to a V6 saves 40kg compared to the V8, the Artura actually weighs more than the 570S (though admittedly, the difference is slight). This may be the distillation of everything McLaren has learned, though those are hardly groundbreaking numbers

What do you wish they had done differently?

As it stands, the Artura looks like a compromise.

I wish McLaren had made the Artura completely electric. As I said, the technology is ready.

You make it sound so rosy.

There is, of course, one problem. And it’s not range.

The problem is weight.

I am hardly an engineer, but do know that batteries are heavy. There is, of course, a solution: use fewer batteries.

Please tell me you are joking.

I am not.

What about range?

What about it?

300km ought to be enough for most supercar owners. I would rather less range and quicker recharging. Tesla’s aforementioned Model S is capable of replenishing more than 300km of range in less than 15 minutes. That is tremendous.

You raise some good points.

I raise some excellent points, thank you very much.

In the press release the chief engineer for the Artura, Geoff Grose, is quoted saying “the Artura has been all about challenging ourselves to innovate…”

Innovate.

It’s that word I keep coming back to when reflecting on the Artura.

With the Artura, McLaren had an opportunity to do something truly different, to innovate and redefine an entire segment of cars. Instead, they gave us a British NSX.

The naysayers are going to write a book about this one.

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Comments (25)

  • Excellent article, I agree I really want a car manufacturer to make a pure EV sports car (even if it's rubbish) because they are likely going to need to practice at it and I would find it very interesting to see how it performs

      1 month ago
    • Cheers, James! Here's hoping they give it a shot sooner rather than later!

        1 month ago
    • Definitely, I'm really looking forward to seeing what Lotus and Alpine come up with

        1 month ago
  • Entry level my ass..... you know what would be refreshing, a decent sports car the average idiot like me could afford

      1 month ago
    • C8 Corvette?

        1 month ago
    • Ya, I like it but even that is excessive.... more like a lotus?!? I like that BAC mono but hardly practical...lol... and still, they're all not cheap, just less expensive than others.... oh, I've got it!!! A Fiero but less shitty???? I dunno...

      Read more
        1 month ago
  • I think it’s great they’ve built a car with something other than a 4.0L V8. It was getting a little boring.

      1 month ago
  • This honestly is the best entry level 👌

      1 month ago
  • An EV supercar would lack soul. A hybrid is a good mix of power and meeting emissions regulations that don't make sense. But They definitely could have used a better battery. 2.5 hours to charge a battery that small is abysmal. It does weigh less than the outgoing 570S though and remember the 650S was a super series car. This is entry level. And EV tech is still in its infancy. The Model S Plaid won't lap the Nordschleife quickly btw. It will blow up.

      1 month ago
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