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REVIEW: 2023 McLaren Artura

by Jimmy Vervitas

General Manager, McLaren Canada

So here we are. The Artura, McLaren’s first hybrid sports car. A car that, I have to say, I’ve been eagerly awaiting since they announced it, with an all-new powertrain.

 

My inner engineer has been hungry for an all-new powertrain from McLaren since the 4.0-litre unit found in the 720S. A lot of people give McLaren a hard time for the lack of newly-developed powertrains – but I can assure you the original M838T found in the 12C and the 720’s M840T are quite a bit different. So much so that, from product to product, you can actually hear the difference. And if you can hear it, it’s definitely a change.

 

But enough of the past – let’s look at the future.

 

When the Artura was originally unveiled, I was sold on the looks from the get-go! I was a fan of the 570S/570GT styling – and happily, a strong portion of that DNA followed over. That said, the Artura is a massive evolution in design and manufacturing.

 

The first thing you notice is the sculpted aluminum body, which incorporates the most body colour on a McLaren since the MP4-12C. I love that the standard black (optional carbon) bits are just the front splitter and rear bumper/diffuser. Because of this, the Artura has a visual size advantage over its predecessor.

The front incorporates less of the Mclaren smile, and has more of an aggressive look head-on – like it’s poised to attack. Moving to the side, I’m so happy to see the departure from the various cutouts on the door and quarter panel – again, bringing more body colour to the car. The flared surface of the door, extending out to that rear quarter panel air intake, is so reminiscent of the Ferrari 308/328 to me – and a feature that just screams “supercar.”

 

Finally, moving on to the back, try and find the break between the engine lid and fender. Don’t see one, do you?  That’s because for the first time in this segment, the Artura resembles the likes of the P1 and Senna with a single-piece rear clamshell.  A design feature that shows McLaren’s obsession with weight.  The super-tight package looks incredible, especially at night, when different lights hit the changing surfaces. There is still an organic philosophy to the way McLaren designs a car.

 

Open up the dihedral door, and you sit inside an interior with a whole new level of refinement from our small British supercar company! I have to say this because it’s been amazing to watch McLaren learn how to make a better road car with every new model – and once you close the door of the Artura, you know immediately this is a whole level up. Tight, dense and quiet describe the touch and feel of the materials and switchgear.  Everything feels solid.

Then comes that familiar simplicity to the ergonomics. I love that McLarens are still very simple to use. In fact, they’re even simpler now with the removal of the active panel, and the addition of the cluster-mounted controls for powertrain and suspension. It means one less thing to press.

 

When playing around with the configurator, I find myself living in the TechLux trims with fine leather, and a huge selection of great colours to choose from. I’m loving Onyx Black over Harissa Red leather, with electric light piping carving out the door panels.

 

Without hesitation, the future is here. What to do now but press the start button?

 

Press the start button and nothing happens. What is this thing, broken? Nope. The Artura’s all-new high-performance hybrid powertrain seduces you right off the bat, as it defaults to electric mode from startup. Select drive and set off, and you feel so responsible, like you’re a better better person for the world. It’s a nice feeling.

My planned route is from the dealership to the 407, to the 427 and down to the city; from there, work my way back up to Woodbridge. Of course, I’ excited to hear the new 120-degree V6 twin-turbo engine, so I toggle my way to sport mode almost immediately. It bursts to life, and is kept idle until it goes through its cold start procedure. It’s so interesting to be driving a car with forward (electric) power, the engine on, but detached.

 

Once the is at operating temp – it takes under a half a minute the – clutch engages, and the engine is now under my right foot. Immediately, we’re in eighth gear. I put my foot all the way down, and feel the electric motor pick the car up – and then feel the boost from the engine catch it and carry it forward. It’s a very refined transition.

 

Dropping a few gears to stretch the RPM, and it’s easy to feel all of the 671 horsepower propel you. There certainly is no shortage of power. And the engine has this special intangible feeling to it; at higher RPM, you start to experience that magic-carpet McLaren feel to power output. The numbers just rush upwards. The new eight-speed transmission (with an electronic, lightweight reverse gear) is also very well-calibrated. It shifts swiftly up and down – and there are plenty of gears to make the best use of the power at all times.

 

After settling down to a rhythm on our 400 series highways, my attention turns to the suspension, which is by far the most refined of any supercar I’ve ever driven. McLaren clearly spent a lot of time on developing great steering feel while maintaining great refinement and isolation at the same time. Here, the Artura is best in class – there’s no suspension noise, and its refinement is Porsche-level.

 

Toss the Artura around, and you have that typical flat and very nimble feeling. It displays tons of poise, while its new wider-section rear tires also give the rear end more confidence through long, swooping off-ramps. I cannot wait to exploit that – and the limited-slip differential – on track.

 

So, I finally arrive in the city. I’m off the Gardiner Expressway and at the first set of lights. The engine is idling in traffic – and I feel more powerful than ever to say, “I don’t need you right now.”

 

I put the Artura back into E mode. Driving through the city under electric power is my favourite part of the experience. There is this great sense of responsibility and maturity that comes with sitting at a street light next to a parent with their child in a stroller – and you’re not contributing any pollution whatsoever. And when I say that I mean noise pollution as well. You’re simply floating around. I can do anything, and be anywhere, without anyone hearing a peep out of me. It’s a powerful feeling. I set out to see how far E mode can take me, and can say with absolute confidence that it takes me from the base of the Gardiner, through the centre of the city, to the 401 and 400 all the way to Woodbridge without consuming an ounce of fuel. I glide all the way back to our Toronto store completely silently.

 

The Artura reminds me that the world of supercars isn’t ready for all-electric. We still need to hear combustion, and we still need to feel the power generated by pistons and valves. The precision note of the Artura’s engine, mixed with the electric shock of the electric motor, is where it’s at. Give me all hands on deck to push forward as fast as possible – and when need be, turn it all down and hum your to your final destination.

 

There is power in silence, there is power in choice. The Artura achieves the best mix of any hybrid powertrain I’ve ever driven. But most importantly, and I say this without hesitation, the McLaren Artura is the best McLaren ever made. When you get your chance, you’ll understand.