2023 McLaren Artura review: International first drive

2023-mclaren-artura-review:-international-first-drive
  • Doors and Seats

    CarGenericIcon

    2 doors, 2 seats

  • Engine

    EngineIcon

    3.0TT/71kW Hybrid, 6 cyl.

  • Engine Power

    EnginePowerIcon

    NA

  • Fuel

    HybridEngineIcon

    NA

  • Manufacturer

    DrivetrainIcon

    RWD

  • Transmission

    TransmissionIcon

    8 Spd Auto (DCT)

  • Warranty

    WarrantyIcon

    5 Yr, 75000 KMs

  • Ancap Safety

    AncapSafetyIcon

    NA

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Mike Duff

Plug-in supercar impresses – despite launch gremlins





  • Huge pace
  • Dynamic stability
  • Impressive refinement and a quality cabin

  • Software issues with the car we drove
  • Less edgy than predecessors
  • The soundtrack isn’t that special

McLaren Artura hybrid supercar international launch

You don’t come here for hotel or restaurant reviews, and when we get to travel the world to experience new models we always want to tell you about the car rather than describe swanky press launch that introduces it.

But sometimes the streams get crossed, which is what happened with the McLaren Artura.

Like any day involving one of the prettier parts of Spain and a new supercar, it started well. The Artura looks awesome in the sunshine of Marbella. There is still something of a snake skull about the front end graphic, but it is less dead eyed than the 720S – and nobody wants a cute supercar. The proportions are spot-on and the sleek design is interesting from every angle without looking over-detailed.



The cabin feels immediately special, too. Getting in is still a bit of a pain given the need to negotiate the low roof and gullwing-opening doors, but few buyers are likely to be prioritising practicality over theatre.

Once inside the interior is finished to a higher standard than previous McLarens, with a smart new portrait-orientated central touchscreen running a smart new Android-based operating system called MIS2.

Pushing the Engine Start button delivers the first mild surprise – the sound of silence. Being a plug-in hybrid the Artura defaults to its EV mode every time it is energised, this being a requirement in Europe for it to be regarded as an electric vehicle.



The novelty of moving away powered purely by flowing electrons comes immediately afterwards, the 70kW ‘axial flux’ motor that sits between the new 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and the equally new eight-speed twin-clutch gearbox giving noiseless propulsion.

But then, 15 seconds later, we diverge from the script. No sooner have I left the hotel carpark than the spiffy new UI shuts down and the screen goes blank. I pull a swift U-turn and head straight back to get the system rebooted before trying again.

It’s an unfortunate glitch, doubly so as the Artura’s first launch program was cancelled last October after what the company admitted were, wait for it, software issues. And throughout the day it soon becomes clear that mine isn’t the only car to be suffering from gremlins, other journos reporting similar issues with UI and smart keys not being recognised.



It definitely doesn’t feel like a car that’s had eight months of extra development.

McLaren promises that the customer Arturas are going to be fully sorted with updated software well ahead of them going on sale, something which they’ll be proving to us ahead of cars reaching Australia. So let’s leave that on the record and move on.

Straight into the good news. Problems aside, the rest of the car is pretty awesome. The delayed launch might mean the Artura got beaten to the punch by the technically similar Ferrari 296 GTB – another rear-driven plug-in hybrid with an electrically assisted V6 engine. But the McLaren definitely doesn’t feel like it will be a runner-up in the eco supercar segment.

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While EV mode is clearly designed for cities and quiet early morning getaways, limited to no more than 130km/h and with only modest levels of acceleration available, it actually suits the car impressively well: the Artura’s all-new second-gen carbon architecture stays quiet and rattle-free even without the distraction of a combustion engine.

Selecting the powertrain’s Hybrid mode brings the new V6 into the mix and under low-intensity use this cuts in and out reasonably unobtrusively.

Moving up to Sport mode, which is likely to be the everyday default for anyone wanting a supercar experience, and which keeps the engine running for most of the time, shutting it down at low speeds.

2023 McLaren Artura
SeatsTwo
Length4539mm
Width2080mm
Height1193mm
Wheelbase2640mm

Request hard acceleration with the engine off and, as in other plug-in hybrids, there is a brief pause as the different sides of the powertrain work out their strategy, and sometimes a noticeable lurch as they come together. But once full power is flowing acceleration is brutal: the claimed 8.3-second 0-200km/h time feels entirely possible after one dose of full acceleration. This is one of those cars where getting the throttle to its stop will only ever happen for brief moments on road.

The V6 sounds muted low down, indeed when cruising the Artura is undoubtedly the most refined car that McLaren has built – that includes the supposedly gentler McLaren GT. Beyond that, there are some gravelly induction sounds under small throttle openings, but none of the lifted throttle pops and gurgles common in this part of the market.

The combination of gasoline particulate filters and European drive-by noise regulations are partly responsible for this, but McLaren engineers also admit they wanted to make the car feel more mature. The new engine develops a harder aural edge as revs build, but one that demonstrates enthusiasm through quantity of noise rather than outright quality – it gets louder without developing any compelling harmonics. T



he wait for a truly special-sounding non-Italian V6 will have to wait a while longer.

Surprisingly, the Artura doesn’t have regenerative braking. The company says that this is down to the challenge of seamlessly integrating retardation between friction from the huge carbon-ceramic discs and harvested energy (although the Ferrari 296 GTB does indeed manage this.) Instead, the battery is charged directly from the engine, either when it is running at part load or, under hard use or in the full-fang Track mode, by continuing to run the engine as a generator during braking. This quest for dynamic purity has created an impressively solid and consistent feeling brake pedal, although the intensity at which the engine needs to work is evident in the heat haze that can be seen rising from the cooling ‘chimney’ in the engine cover through the rear-view mirror.

Steering is similarly analogue, McLaren sticking with pure hydraulic assistance to avoid corruption. Grip from the Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres is huge, the Artura feels incredibly lashed-down and stable when asked to turn at speed. But although the helm feels good, and weights up progressively as lock is added, the car’s handling balance feels more front-biased than earlier McLarens, certainly with the level of cornering force that can be generated on road.

There’s a new electronically controlled rear differential – another first for the company – and this doubtless plays a big part in delivering assured traction. But it does deny the Artura some of the exciting, rear-endy feeling its predecessors have all managed.

Ride quality is another area where the Artura feels almost too good. The MP4-12C which kicked off McLaren’s modern era of road cars had impressively plush suspension, reportedly at Ron Dennis’s insistence, and although the Artura lacks the roll- and pitch-fighting front-rear connected system of the brand’s most expensive models, it feels as supple when thrown over a rough road surface.

As before there are three selectable ‘Handling’ chassis modes. Comfort allows slight but noticeable lean under cornering loads, but absorbing big bumps without any sense of unwanted secondary motions. But selecting the firmer Sport or Track modes doesn’t turn the Artura harsh.



A front lift system is fitted as standard, to reduce the risk of expensive crunching noises over kerbs and speedbumps, but the button that operates this is awkwardly located alongside a line of identical-looking switches.

Key details2023 McLaren Artura
Engine3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol with axial flux e-motor
Power430kW @ 7500rpm petrol

70kW electric

500kW combined
Torque585Nm @ 2250rpm petrol

720Nm combined
Drive typeRear-wheel drive
TransmissionEight-speed twin-clutch
Power to weight ratio333.8kW/t
Weight1498kg
Battery size7.4kWh

The track at the Ascari Race Resort near the town of Ronda gave the chance to push harder in a car sitting on the optional Trofeo R semi-slicks. The technical, demanding 5.4km circuit feels more crashable than the sort of heavily gravel-trapped tracks that manufacturers normally choose to let journalists play on, and it took most of my two stints to memorise the basics of what to expect next.

The Artura still felt savagely quick, especially when blasting its way out of tight corners, but even the huge loadings possible on track didn’t bring much more of a sense of playfulness. To be honest it felt a bit clinical compared to my memories of its fire-breathing predecessors. There’s definitely plenty of headroom for a more extreme version.

Glitches aside, the Artura has grown up – it really does feel like the first car from what will be McLaren’s second act, with the company planning multiple other hybrid models. The ownership proposition is set to be sharpened up with a standard three-year service plan plus a five-year, 75,000km transferrable warranty and a six-year battery warranty.

It will be mega when it’s finished.



Ratings Breakdown

2022 McLaren Artura Performance Coupe

8.7/ 10

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

Mike Duff

Our bloke in the UK has been writing about cars since the late ’nineties, and served time on the staff of CAR, Autocar and evo magazines. These days he combines his duties for Drive with being European Editor for Car and Driver in the ’States. He loves automotive adventures and old Mercs, sometimes experienced together.

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