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Artura HPH heralds new era for McLaren. Image by McLaren.

Artura HPH heralds new era for McLaren
We get an in-depth, up-close look at McLaren’s new High-Performance Hybrid, the 680hp, 205mph, 50mpg+ Artura, from £182,500.
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What's all this about?

Question: what looks a bit like a McLaren 720S from the front and a 600LT from the back, can do 205mph and 0-62mph in three seconds flat yet return more than 50mpg while emitting just 129g/km CO2, is part-built in Sheffield and Woking, and has a price tag of £182,500?

Hold on; I ask the questions around here, it's how this news-article format works.

Sssssh! Stop breaking the fourth wall for the readers!

Err... OK. So, anyway, the answer to your question is most likely 'the McLaren Artura'.

Oh, for... you've gone and spoiled it, now! But yes, you're right: this is the new era of McLaren. The Artura is the company's first High-Performance Hybrid (HPH) and no, we've not forgotten the P1 or the Speedtail; perhaps we should have added the qualifier that the Artura is McLaren's first series production HPH.

The super-/hypercar manufacturer invited us down to its Woking HQ (when it was still relatively 'safe' to do such things, back in the latter half of 2020) to have a good look around and inside the Artura, while also being privy to a full technical rundown. And the stats this thing turns in are quite eye-wideningly astounding: its petrol motor, a twin-turbo V6, generates 585hp and 585Nm; it is assisted by an electric motor, housed in a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, that can serve up an additional 95hp and 225Nm, while providing torque-infill duties too; these two together churn out a whopping 680hp and 720Nm, resulting in a (dry) power-to-weight ratio of 488hp-per-tonne; that's because the whole car weighs only 1,498kg with a driver and 90 per cent fuel-load aboard, so it's only 50kg heavier than a 570S and compares favourably to similar power/speed rivals with no hybrid gear that weigh more than 1,500kg (and hybrid competitors are normally 1,700kg-plus); as well as that 0-62mph time and top speed, the Artura HPH will run 0-124mph in 8.3 seconds; but, on the other hand, it can do 75mph in zero-emissions mode and travel for up to 18 miles without using its petrol engine; while its economy and eco-stats (yet to be officially ratified, by the way) sound like those of a small city hatchback, not a 200mph-plus missile.

It all sounds terrific, but don't you mean 'twin-turbo V8'?

Nope, we meant 'twin-turbo V6'. This is a new engine which replaces the 4.0-litre 'M840T' V8 that has done all the heavy lifting in terms of McLaren Automotive's output so far. The 3.0-litre unit is 50kg lighter and 150mm shorter than the M840T, which means that when it's fitted with its transmission, electric motor and ancillaries then it's still more compact than the V8. Not that it lacks power, of course, because that 585hp figure means it is knocking on the door of 200hp-per-litre without any sort of electrical assistance whatsoever; astonishing, for a 'mere' V6. Not only that, but McLaren says it is fitted with a very short, stiff crankshaft that allows the 3.0-litre lump to rev out to a fabulous 8,500rpm.

It is not, however, just the hybrid system lifted from a P1 or Speedtail, as it is claimed to be an all-new system. The electric motor is sequestered away in a brand-spanking eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the five-cell lithium-ion battery pack (rated at a relatively modest 7.4kWh) has 33 per cent greater power density than the item fitted to the monster P1. An onboard 11kW AC charger should re-juice the battery in two-and-a-half hours on a Type 2 Mode 3 cable, although McLaren also offers 'various levels of battery energy harvesting' from within the cabin of the Artura. Which presumably means different levels of regenerative-braking effect. All of this hardware is covered by warranties of five years (vehicle), six years (battery) and ten years (body), so your £182,500 outlay - placing the Artura about directly between the lacklustre GT and the 720S in terms of pricing - should be well-protected.

Right. So what about the chassis? MonoCell II, I take it?

You take it wrong. Bang wrong, if you'll forgive us speaking in the language of Unintentional Partridge. The Artura not only gets the honour of debuting both hybrid power in a series-production vehicle and an all-new V6 engine for the McLaren family, it also has a new carbon-fibre tub that McLaren says is 'as revolutionary as the MonoCell was' when the firm launched the MP4-12C in 2011. Called the McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture (MCLA), it will underpin all of the company's supercars going forward, these electrified HPH models replacing the Sports Series in McLaren's hierarchical structure. The MCLA is created at McLaren's Sheffield carbon-technologies centre and is a key part of a vehicle-wide developmental aim of 'super-lightweight construction'. Such a focus has even extended, for instance, to the car's electrical systems, which are based on what the company terms ethernet architecture. That means that four main electronics controllers talk to each other wirelessly as they manage the Artura's electricals, a set-up that reduces cabling by 25 per cent and kerb weight by 10 per cent in the process - all while delivering faster data-transfer speeds and improved advanced driver assist safety (ADAS) capabilities too.

The V6, by the way, has a hot-inside-V turbo configuration and a 120-degree formation to its cylinder banks. This allows it to be mounted really low in the MCLA, which not only aids the Artura HPH's centre-of-gravity but which has also allowed Woking's clever mob to completely redesign the multilink, wishbone rear suspension. The McLaren plug-in hybrid further enjoys a lightweight E-Differential, hydraulic steering, Proactive Damping Control, carbon-ceramic brakes with forged lightweight callipers and even a bespoke-developed Pirelli P Zero tyre with the Italian firm's Cyber Car Technology included; this is a chip in the rubber which transmits tyre temps and pressures while the car is in motion. McLaren also says the Artura manages its petrol-electric resources according to which of four modes it is in (prioritising energy consumption and zero-emissions driving in Electric and Comfort Modes, and conversely ravaging its reserves with no consideration for fuel economy to deliver the fastest acceleration and best driver engagement in either Sport or Track Modes). Even the throttle response is said to be twice as sharp as on other, non-hybrid McLarens.

This is all mighty promising. But can we talk about the exterior and interior?

Oh, for sure. Rob Melville, McLaren's design director, talks a good game on the Artura and it's certainly a handsome-looking thing, but it's also mighty familiar in terms of McLaren's past output. At the back, or viewing it from the rear three-quarters, it looks almost identical to a Sports Series car, but up front it has the eye-socket lamps employed on the 720S, 765LT and Senna. Dihedral doors have an LED outline in them which frames their shape at night (if they're in the 'up' position), while there's the 'hammerhead' design line at the front of the car and twin, high-mounted exhaust exits at the rear. The Artura runs on 19-inch front, 20-inch rear alloy wheels and features lots of laser-cut mesh, a large rear diffuser which generates downforce and also clever hidden ducting that channels air to the various cooling rads stationed about the Macca's person.

Inside, one-piece Clubsport seats are standard, with an option to go for a Comfort-spec chair if you prefer, while the human-machine interface has been improved. Two high-definition screens present all the information to the driver in a crisp and clear fashion, but it's the mode switches we like most. They've been moved to the sides of the instrument binnacle and rendered in an incredibly tactile metal finish. There's one either side, for powertrain and chassis respectively, and they're always within reach of your fingertips while your hands are on the wheel. It also means you don't need to press an 'Active' switch low down on the console in the Artura before you can cycle through its various dynamic modes. Furthermore, the whole binnacle adjusts with the steering column, so drivers of all sizes and shapes should be able to see the instrumentation clearly no matter how tall (or otherwise) they are.

Beyond this, some of the broader strokes. Three of the launch colours are Flux Green, Ember Orange and a brooding dark grey entitled Plateau, while there will be an option to have the aluminium one-piece roof in Gloss Black in contrast to the body. And inside, three design themes are entitled Performance (lashings of Alcantara to go with some leather), Tech (pure cow hide only) and Vision (lighter colourways for a fresher feel), so you've got a bit of choice how you'd like the Artura's cabin all trimmed up.

And is that it?

Pretty much, yeah. First drives of the Artura HPH should be in spring, so we're looking forward to trying out the McLaren's dynamics, having already sat in it while it was static. Therefore, we'll let Jamie Corstorphine, McLaren's director of product strategy, wrap up proceedings when he says: "This is our third main chapter in road cars, in our second decade of operations. The Artura is all-new from the ground up and is a supercar for a new era. Its MCLA chassis will underpin all next-generation McLarens and all of our supercars from now onwards will be electrified in some way.

"We had five main philosophies to work to with the Artura. First, throttle response is key to driver engagement and enjoyment. Second, it needed super-lightweight engineering. Third, it had to be thrilling to drive and yet easy to live with. Fourth, we wanted to offer new levels of driver interface and convenience. And fifth, it had to conform to a design vision."

Matt Robinson - 17 Feb 2021

Earlier articles featuring 2021 McLaren Artura

2020-11-23: McLaren confirms Artura name for hybrid supercar

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Coming next year: the V6-powered McLaren Artura ‘High-Performance Hybrid’.

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