There are a lot of impressive numbers attached to the McLaren Artura - 500kW of power and 720Nm of torque from a 3.0-litre V6 hybrid powertrain, a 330km/h top speed, 0 to 100 in 3.0 seconds and a WLTP combined fuel consumption rating of 4.6L/100km despite all that - but there is one in particular that stands out, as it is the one that is the key to making a lot of those other numbers come together: 82.
That’s 82 kilograms, by the way, and it is the weight of the Artura’s carbon chassis tub. Yep, the whole car hangs off something that weighs less than a large dog, and is the key to how McLaren has managed to make a plug-in hybrid that weighs only 1395kg (despite lugging 130kg of hybrid powertrain kit) or 75kg less than the Ferrari 296 GTB, which McLaren says definitely isn’t a competitor.
McLaren also says that the Artura definitely isn’t the replacement for the V8-powered 570S either, but, well, of course it is, because electrification is undeniably the future. Even for supercars.
Now, while the phrase “plug-in hybrid” brings to mind visions of economy and frugality, that is most definitely not what the Artura is all about, despite that impressive WLTP figure.
That is because, while that WLTP figure may indeed be achievable if you drive sensibly and with economy in mind, who in the hell is going to drive a McLaren sensibly and with economy in mind?
Yes, that’s right, you can drive around the suburbs in relative silence in your outrageous supercar.
No, even just looking at the Artura tells you that isn’t going to happen - it is definitely a McLaren, for better or for worse, with no adventurous styling changes happening to announce that something decidedly different is happening under the skin - namely a V6 engine hooked up to a 7.4kWh battery and an axial flux electric motor.
Rather than being the old V8 with a pair of cylinders lopped off, that V6 is an all-new engine from McLaren: a 430kW/584Nm 3.0-litre 120 degree V6 (the V8 has a 90 degree bank angle) with two electrically-actuated turbochargers nestled in between the cylinder banks in a ‘hot vee’ configuration.
The V6 is hooked up to McLaren’s dual clutch ‘seamless shift’ transmission that now boasts an 8th gear due to the fact that it doesn’t need a reverse gear anymore, thanks to the electric motor handling the backing up now.
The electric motor is mounted between the engine and transmission, providing an extra 70kW and 225Nm, as well as allowing for all-electric driving. Yes, that’s right, you can drive around the suburbs in relative silence in your outrageous supercar. For around 20-odd kilometres, that is (McLaren claims 31km), but at speeds of up to 130km/h.
But don’t go expecting to drag off any Teslas at the traffic lights in EV mode though, as that electric motor is only good for 70kW and feels it. So, no, it’s not fast in EV mode, but it is fast enough for urban motoring. And besides, you have that ferocious V6 on call when you want to tap into that 3.0-second 0 to 100 sprint.
The electronics can make you feel like an absolute hero as well, allowing enough playfulness from the rear to fool you into thinking you are the one with the towering skill and lightning-fast reactions
And ferocious it very much is. While impressively docile and flexible when called upon to take over from the electric motor at urban speeds, nail the aluminium throttle pedal to the floor and it gets feral fast.
The engine has a edgy, guttural note which builds to a deep roar that doesn't exactly sound like a V8, but also sounds far angrier than your usual six. In short, it sounds exotic and aggressive, just like any good supercar should.
And it feels it too, with savage acceleration and lightning fast responses. The electric motor fills in any torque holes or turbo lag, making for a solid wave of brutal acceleration anywhere in the six's rev range. Nail the throttle and it instantly comes to life with the rear end giving a satisfying wriggle before the electronics stop you turning it around completely.
And those electronics can make you feel like an absolute hero as well, allowing enough playfulness from the rear to fool you into thinking you are the one with the towering skill and lightning-fast reactions, when it is really the car...
But regardless of who is doing the heavy lifting here, the Artura is an utterly electrifying car to drive quickly. The surprisingly good ride hides a seriously sharp and responsive chassis, with razor-sharp turn in from the meaty, satisfying hydraulic steering. That steering is impressively chatty too, bristling with feel and feedback, involving you completely in what is going on under the wheels.
The Artura's general user-friendliness smacks of a well considered, thought-out approach to designing a supercar
Despite the fact that it has more in common with the Ferrari 296GT, the Artura feels more reminiscent of a Porsche 911 when you drive it hard, offering up a similarly user-friendly performance experience. Yes, it is ferociously fast and superbly aggressive, but you always feel comfortingly in control, thanks to the underlying effortless competence of the package. You just feel like its got your back.
Another layer to this comes from the surprising visibility offered from the cockpit - there's none of that silly 'can't see out of it because its a supercar' nonsense going on here, with the sleek shape being cleverly designed to serve up a remarkably easy car to see out of, by any standards.
Of course, while the sheer performance and ability may well justify the Artura's $375,000 asking price (or, indeed, be considered a bargain - the 3.0-litre turbo V6 hybrid Ferrari 296 GTB that scampers to 100km/h in 2.9 seconds is almost $200k more expensive), there is a certain expectation that other areas measure up to the standards expected from a $300k+ car, and fortunately, it delivers here too.
The Artura's surprisingly roomy interior has a a minimalist layout that is firmly focused on the driver and boasts impressively high quality materials throughout.
The small central touchscreen that is angled towards the driver is a delight to use, while the fantastic mode selector rocker switches and steering wheel-mounted shift paddles feel like they have been hewn from a solid block of metal by skilled artisans. In other words - they feel real good.
Speaking of the mode selector, it is now mounted on the instrument binnacle (well withing finger reach without having to let go of the wheel) that is, in turn, mounted on the steering column so that the whole unit shifts when the wheel is adjusted.
The Artura's general user-friendliness smacks of a well considered, thought-out approach to designing a supercar (which, let's face it, is a McLaren thing) with the idea of making it an everyday car that is surprisingly easy to live with. Just one that also happens to be ferociously fast.
ENGINE: 3.0-litre turbo petrol V6 PHEV
GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic, RWD
CONSUMPTION: 4.6L/100km (3P-WLTP)