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After two years of turmoil emerges a crucial new supercar with plug-in hybrid power

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It is now 30 years since the launch of the seminal McLaren F1; more than 20 years since Woking built what became the Mercedes SLR McLaren; and over a decade since it set up shop as a car brand in its own right with the McLaren MP4-12C.

And still McLaren Automotive’s struggle to establish itself in the irresistibly attritional business of modern supercar making goes on. While its key rivals in Maranello, Stuttgart and Sant’Agata continue to reap the rewards of their investments in electrified models, in SUVs or in both, McLaren’s biggest success over the past five years seems simply to have stayed in the fight – just.

It’s great to see McLaren using electrification to address one of the longer-standing vulnerabilities of its car so effectively: lower-range turbo lag. Picking up in higher gears just isn’t a problem for the Artura.

After a turbulent period, though, it might now be on the cusp of genuine progress again. A new boss is at the helm. A new business plan is on the table, with mentions made of potentially transformational new cars. And an all-new model that might itself drive some of that business is finally ready for market.

Between its British-built carbonfibre monocoque, its ethernet electrical architecture, its superformed aluminium bodywork and its V6 plug-in hybrid powerplant, the McLaren Artura is the most technically daring project that McLaren has undertaken since the McLaren P1 hypercar – and quite possibly ever.

Its development has proven both deeply challenging and notably struck with mishap. But, says McLaren, the causes of the gestational hiccups have now been dealt with. The Artura is at last finished. And after a hiatus to address the causes of the technical problems we reported on at the car’s press launch in the summer, it is finally being delivered to deposit holders – and now to Autocar’s road testers.

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Range at a glance

The Artura options list is quite extensive. There are six no-cost paint colours, but nearly 30 others you can pick (before you get into commissioning your own colour); there are three wheel designs; and there are numerous exterior trim and equipment spec choices.

McLaren corrals the car’s most important optional features into seven packages: the Gloss Black Interior Finish Pack, the Technology, TechLux and Vision Interior packs, and the Performance and MSO Carbonfibre Interior packs. The Technology Pack is the priciest (£6800) but includes 360deg cameras, Bowers & Wilkins audio, LED headlights, intelligent cruise, road sign recognition and lane departure warning.


02 McLaren Artura RT 2022 front corner

At the heart of the McLaren Artura sits the new McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture (MCLA): the first carbon-composite monocoque tub that McLaren has manufactured itself for one of its own models. It’s larger than its Monocell- and Monocage-branded predecessors, as well as stiffer. But in the Artura, it’s also the thin end of the wedge when it comes to brand-new technology.

The car is a very ambitious and skilfully executed example of modern supercar packaging and lightweight design, with so much of its layout and specification about mitigating the size and weight penalties that plug-in hybrid powertrains typically impose.

The slim headlights are integrated into a boomerang-shaped opening that echoes the lines of McLaren’s own logo. Expect to see similar on other new model introductions.

This car is McLaren’s first with a new-generation ethernet-based electrical architecture. Controlled by four main processors and connecting every part of the Artura via the same central data ‘gateway’, it reduces the weight of cabling in the car by 25%, speeds up data transmission and allows for the over-the-air software updates of almost any electronically governed system.

The Artura’s primary source of power is McLaren’s new M630 wide-angle, twin-turbocharged V6 engine, which is 50kg lighter than its existing V8, has a particularly stiff crankshaft design (so it can rev to 8500rpm), and is both short and flat enough to package really efficiently in the engine bay. This makes room for the Artura’s hybrid system and fuel tank, while also allowing the car to be less than an inch longer overall than the one it replaces, slightly narrower across the body and even shorter in the wheelbase.

The hybrid system adds just 130kg in total. It consists of a five-module lithium ion battery with 7.4kWh of usable capacity and a compact and energy-dense axial flux-style electric motor mounted immediately downstream of the piston engine, which can add up to 94bhp and 166lb ft into the driveline, alongside the V6’s 577bhp and 431lb ft for a total of 671bhp and 531lb ft. Such power is a big jump over what the McLaren 570S and 600LT made, and well in advance of cars like the Lamborghini Huracán, Audi R8 and Honda NSX.

The Artura’s lightest running-order weight, as claimed by McLaren, is 1498kg. Even with all of the car’s electrification tech, it still weighs only 46kg more than a 570S – a really impressive achievement.

Our test car weighed 1552kg fully fuelled and with plenty of optional equipment fitted. Weight-saving carbon-ceramic brakes come on the car as standard, as do lightweight superformed aluminium body panels. Suspension is via double wishbones at the front and a new multi-link axle at the rear, under steel coils, adaptive dampers and passive anti-roll bars. Steering is via a conventional front-axle system, and electrohydraulic assistance for it remains McLaren’s preference.


The McLaren Artura’s two-seat cabin is predictably snug, but it’s not at all tight or restrictive. The design the standard Clubsport seats (a more conventional comfort seat is available as an option) granted a fine and straight driving position, with its clever elliptical hinge allowing you to explore a wide range of variously recumbent driving positions, and granting useful room even for taller testers to wear a helmet.

Once comfortable, you will notice how thoughtfully McLaren has refined and enhanced its philosophy on cabin layout, and how cleverly it has created useful storage space. There’s no glovebox, but there are large door pockets at the front of the door consoles, which are designed to retain their contents as the doors themselves pivot and swing away upwards – and they do so very effectively.

Optional Clubsport seats are comfortable for road driving and supportive on track. Steering column could do with just a little more rake adjustment range. The storage shelf behind the seats is advisable only for lighter, smaller items of cargo that won’t obscure your rear-view vision, but it’s useful all the same.

There’s also real space efficiency about the design of the car’s super-slim centre console. It’s just wide enough to make room for two cupholders and an armrest cubby big enough for a wallet or small purse, but it also has deepish storage channels on either side of the transmission controls where a smartphone will happily sit and stay put when you’re touring, if the other nearby storage areas are occupied.

The car’s instrument screen is all-digital and all-new. In contrast to the one on the McLaren 720S, it is mounted directly onto the steering column rather than the fascia behind, so it moves with the wheel as you adjust the latter for your ideal driving position and – in theory – remains unobstructed by it. In practice, our taller testers found the column a bit short on upwards rake adjustment range, leaving the top 10mm of the screen itself obscured by the rim of the steering wheel.

McLaren’s clever one-piece gearshift paddle survives. Above it, new toggle controls for its adaptive powertrain and chassis modes sit on the upper edge of the instrument binnacle. These are easy to spot without taking your eyes far from the road and prod with a finger outstretched from the steering rim.

Multimedia system

The Artura’s advanced electrical architecture means it features a new-generation infotainment system called MIS II. It’s not the biggest or flashiest system, with an 8.0in portrait-oriented screen that is designed to be space-efficient and lightweight. But it has plenty of evident processing power, good responsiveness and reasonable navigability, thanks in no small part to the physical home button-cum-scroll wheel on its left-hand side. We would still prefer to have physical HVAC controls.

The factory navigation system remains a bit unintuitive to program, with some odd layout and usability foibles. It is easy to follow once set, however, and can relay mapping onto the digital instrument screen. Smartphone mirroring for both Apple and Android handsets is offered as standard via a wired connection, with wireless mirroring likely to be added soon via an over-the-air update.

Our car had McLaren’s Bowers & Wilkins 12-speaker premium audio system, which had plenty of power and good clarity.


16 McLaren Artura RT 2022 engine

McLaren’s old Sports Series supercars were always intended for more regular ‘daily’ driving than their Super Series counterparts. Given that the McLaren Artura picks up where those cars left off, it is important to acknowledge the role that it has been designed to fulfil before we start to describe and pass comment on the effectiveness of its execution.

McLaren clearly aimed for a certain refinement and drivability for this car, as well as outright pace and excitement. But the excitement part flows primarily from the sabre-sharp way in which the Artura’s hybrid powertrain responds.

The engine compartment is designed in its entirety to expel heat efficiently, but this heat duct – nicknamed ‘the chimney’ by company insiders – is there to take heat away from the ‘hot vee’ of the engine.

Those used to the softened mid-range pick-up of the McLaren 570S will be stunned at how crisply this car surges forward the instant you flex your toe. You needn’t hold onto a lower gear and higher revs during faster cross-country driving to keep the engine in that permanent state of readiness. Even in higher gears, the torque just floods in the split second you ask for it. The electric motor blends with the combustion engine so seamlessly, before the latter takes over the ravenous heavy lifting beyond 5000rpm, and pulls freely and forcefully to well beyond 8000rpm.

Our timing gear recorded a two-way-average 0-60mph standing start of 3.2sec, 0-100mph in 6.3sec and a standing quarter-mile in 10.9sec. The previous generation of Porsche 911 GT2 RS, tested in 2018, was a tenth or two faster across the same benchmarks, but in terms of real-world, any-gear, accessible roll-on performance, the Artura slays the GT2 RS by even greater margins (30-70mph in fourth gear: 4.1sec versus 5.1sec), which makes it feel energetic and ready to accelerate at any moment.

Some might observe that the V6 engine, while slightly sweeter on the ear than McLaren’s older V8, still isn’t the most beguiling of motors to listen to. Others, perhaps, that because of its seamless and instant swell of torque, the Artura isn’t the most dramatic supercar to experience in full flight. Its rolling fury doesn’t build to any dramatic climax, it’s true. But, however you might characterise its flavour, it is certainly objectively fast – and very easy to drive fast.

Except, that is, when you choose to dial up Electric on the powertrain mode controller. The gap in the Artura’s performance level between Sport or Track mode and here is something of a chasm, and it might be ill-advised to switch to zero-emissions running when waiting at a busy junction.

Once you have acclimatised to the Artura’s electric-only performance potential, however, you will find it an easy car to drive even here: still responsive if far from fast above about 40mph, ready to cruise even at gentler motorway speeds should you want it to, and good for an electric range of 17 miles on a mixed route.


The supercar of your waking dreams would probably steer like a McLaren. The McLaren Artura’s steering, as with many of its predecessors, has that perfect marriage of weight, pace, feel and animation over a typical UK road so as to feel utterly intuitive, superbly tactile and totally absorbing.

The car’s narrowness (by supercar standards) and its excellent forward visibility play their own parts in making it easy to place and to guide. But the steering is the star attraction. Every rise of camber, every change in grip level and every little impact on either front wheel is felt, but none is admitted to your fingertips so unfiltered that it threatens to divert the car, or to make you tighten your grip on that beautifully trimmed and simple three-spoke steering wheel.

The new MCLA carbonfibre tub carries a 120deg V6 engine, electric motor and 7.4kWh drive battery behind the rear bulkhead, and much of the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox aft of the rear axle line. New ethernet electronic architecture also saves weight. The car’s 1552kg weight was distributed 42:58 front to rear on our scales.

And so you can lengthen your focal point, relax your shoulders and carry bigger road speeds in this car in total confidence, knowing that it is secure in its grip levels, consistent in its responses and perfectly in tune with your intentions.

On track, you might look for evidence of the weight of the Artura’s hybrid system, or of the slickness of the car’s powertrain beginning to break down under pressure and causing knock-on problems with its drivability – but you won’t find any.

Turned up into Track mode, our test car’s adaptive dampers kept total control of its mass even at a nine-and-a-half-tenths lapping pace. Its Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres didn’t bite at the apex quite like they might on a Longtail model, with a hint of steady-state understeer there to stabilise the Artura under braking and on commitment to a corner. If the car has dynamic room for improvement, and to excite that tiny but crucial degree more, it would be here.

But, once rotating, the Artura commands loads of lateral grip, and corners with world-class poise, the active locking differential (another technical first among McLaren’s modern production models) creating traction, neatness and adjustability of attitude and line for the car, corner after corner.

Comfort and isolation

19 Mclaren artura rt 2022 rear corner 0

The Artura is the first McLaren road car in a long time whose on-road ride misses an exceptional standard – if only narrowly. It might be because of that additional bit of weight the car is carrying, or because of the little extra lateral and vertical stiffness that has been dialled into its suspension to make up for that weight.

Whatever the reason, the Artura’s chassis is slightly more prescriptive and surface-sensitive than you might expect it to be. It needs to be in Comfort mode on its suspension to ride with true fluency over a faster cross-country route, with Sport mode best reserved for the smoothest stretches. And even in Comfort, the car can fuss and fidget with that little snap of aggression over drains and raised edges at low speed.

The Artura’s cutaway sills make it easier to get in and out than most supercars, and McLaren’s standard Clubsport seats, though firm in places, are perfectly comfortable over longer distances.

Needless to say, this is a fairly quiet car at low speed when in Electric mode; less so with the engine running, or at high speeds. Our noise meter recorded 72dBA of cabin noise at a 50mph cruise with the engine running, and still 69dBA with it shut down. For context, a typical family hatchback cruises with 65-68dBA of cabin noise at that speed – and those cars don’t have super-rigid carbonfibre chassis tubs, of course.

Track notes

Mclaren artura rt track notes

The Artura’s track handling is a credit to McLaren’s motorsport pedigree, and its commitment to making the lightest, leanest car possible here. It is not only fast and flat-handling, but also poised, controllable and enjoyable, and it has great stamina.

The new differential adds the dose of traction and predictable handling adjustability on corner exit that many previous McLarens missed out on. The front axle is steady, stable and communicative, and you can depend on it fully when piling hard into braking zones and working the car to the apex. This is more a precision tool than show pony but is more satisfying, and more adaptable to your particular driving style, than its forebears have been.

After a set of seven or eight hard laps, our test car began to overheat its Pirelli Corsa tyres mostly because of the heat soak from its carbon-ceramic brakes, but it maintained good stability, consistent handling balance and fine stopping power throughout.


01 McLaren Artura RT 2022 lead track

McLaren’s pricing for the Artura positions it in a familiar place between top-end super-sports cars like the Porsche 911 Turbo S, Aston Martin Vantage, Mercedes-AMG GT and outgoing Audi R8, but slightly below the Maserati MC20 and most versions of the Lamborghini Huracán (and well below the Ferrari 296 GTB plug-in hybrid).

As such, the zero-emissions capability that the car offers, and the hybrid supercar status it confers, can almost be considered to have been included for free, given that a V8-engined replacement for the old McLaren 570S probably wouldn’t have been priced much differently.

The wheels are all 19in at the front, 20in at the rear, and the same dimensions whatever design you go for (this is the Dark Stealth wheel finish). Nose-lifter can be had as part of a no-cost option pack.

Artura owners will expect their cars to be reliable and stress-free to own, of course, and to retain their value in the changing modern car market better, perhaps, than a purely petrol-powered rival. Given McLaren’s track record, none of these eventualities can be taken for granted.

A lot of good faith will be required of those owners, especially in light of the car’s eventful development. But if McLaren honours that faith carefully and updates the car judiciously ‘over the air’ during its early life in production, don’t be surprised if the Artura turns out to be a transformative force for the company just as market tastes change, and more buyers of both new and used supercars feel the need to electrify.


The McLaren Artura may not have had the ideal start among the review pages of Autocar, but it has just passed the toughest test we can throw at it with ease.

It’s a car we would recommend highly to the right kind of buyer: one who wants a supercar suited to varied and regular road and track use that has a deep-running sense of dynamic integrity about it, as well as uncompromising performance, top-level handling appeal and impressively polished drivability in more everyday moments.

The McLaren Artura’s key performance numbers are eerily close to what the F1 recorded on our own timing gear back in 1994. Which means that, 30 years on, McLaren’s junior supercar has become as fast as its greatest icon.

It is perhaps less for someone who wants the most soulful, raw or exciting supercar that £200,000 can buy in 2022 and more for a mature buyer seeking just the right balance of thrill and well-mannered usability.

The Artura is a car that feels enhanced by the process of electrification – but not totally reinvented by it. In so many ways, it’s just a better lower-rung McLaren supercar. It has just enough hybrid technology as was necessary to achieve that; it wears it lightly, and uses it well; and, perhaps most importantly of all, it has a future – and it’s one that we can all look forward to watching.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.