McLaren Artura plug-in hybrid review
The latest plug-in hybrid supercar from McLaren is fast and comfortable, with a usable new interior to boot – but it feels like there’s still work to be done
- Blisteringly fast
- Excellent refinement
- Comfortable, usable cabin
- A little too serious at times
- Reliability issues
British supercar maker McLaren has a lot riding on the all-new Artura. Not just because it replaces the excellent 570S in the brand’s extensive line-up, but also because the Artura’s carbon-fibre platform and twin-turbo V6 hybrid powertrain will also form the basis for pretty much every McLarens for the next decade. Not to mention the fact that another plug-in hybrid V6 supercar already burst on to the stage earlier this year: the Ferrari 296 GTB.
So with what seems like the future of McLaren resting on the Artura’s shoulders, you can understand why its launch was delayed until nearly a year and a half after the car was unveiled, as the brand needs to hit it out of the park with this one. That said, while driving the Artura in near-production form, we experienced several technical issues – some minor, some not.
First off, though, there’s a lot to like about the way the Artura drives. The hybrid powertrain alone is very impressive, with the twin-turbo V6 and electric motor spitting out a combined 671bhp and 720Nm of torque (94bhp and 225Nm of that comes from the motor). That’s enough to fire the Artura from 0-62mph in a claimed three seconds exactly and on to a top speed of 205mph. It’s more than just quick; it’s ballistic.
This is partly thanks to McLaren managing to keep the weight down to 1,498kg, despite the presence of 130kg of battery and motor. In case you were wondering, the Artura’s 7.4kWh battery is good for an electric range of 19 miles, however, there’s no regenerative braking like your typical EV, because McLaren prioritised consistent brake pedal feedback.
Then there’s the cabin, which features a revamped design from the McLaren GT and 720S models that the Artura sits in between. There are more intuitive instruments, new seats, a cleaner layout and a less complex, but better to use, eight-inch touchscreen. The new infotainment setup also incorporates Apple CarPlay, which should help make the Artura the most usable McLaren yet.
The pods mounted either side of the instrument cluster are for your drive modes and gear selector; both sit handily at fingertip level on either side of the steering wheel, just above the gearshift paddles. Overall, the interior feels like a more serious and higher-quality car than any previous McLaren. This complements the equally significant improvements in both ride quality and noise refinement.
The same goes for the new V6 engine, which is probably quieter than you’d expect – or would want from a scissor-doored supercar – but it's certainly entertaining to listen to if you push on it. And boy, does it like to rev, with a red line of 8,500rpm, at which point the Artura still feels and sounds remarkably smooth and unstressed.
As a result, the Artura feels extremely grown-up and capable on the move, even a little too grown-up for its own good. It’s supremely composed and feels like it’s on rails most of the time, but the harder you drive it, the better it gets. There’s nothing wrong with how the Artura stops, turns, changes gear or goes round corners, but unleashed on a track, the plug-in supercar comes alive, especially when you turn the electronic driver aids off and fling it around a bit.
However, until you push to find the McLaren’s limits, its dynamic capabilities are a bit elusive, which can be somewhat frustrating. While thoroughly intriguing in isolation, it might not win hearts when compared with one of the Artura’s warmer rivals from the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini or Audi.
Yet, reliability issues are the dark cloud hovering over the Artura, and until they’re resolved, how good or even great the latest McLaren is to drive is of little consequence. It’s still seriously fast, exciting and has an excellent cabin that manages to surpass those of its predecessors. But the reliability issues evident on our test car make us unsure if the Artura is ready for the big time just yet – although the potential for greatness is clear to see.