There’s an all-new McLaren – not just a new model but a bold step into the future; a hybrid McLaren. It’s quite odd to type those two words together but as the firm from Woking rarely gets anything wrong, l think l might have a treat in store.
The Artura shares nothing with any previous model. There is new electrical architecture, new multi-link rear suspension and – for the very first time – an electrically controlled locking differential. We also have a new carbon fibre monocoque and a new electrical system that uses Ethernet cabling rather than the usual wiring loom. This is an industry first.
The grunt comes from a new M630 3-litre twin-turbo V6 engine and – another first – a direct-injection engine featuring a 120º angle and twin turbos. As we all know, weight is the enemy of performance and, at 1,498kg, it is 50kg lighter than the V8, and 190mm shorter. It produces 577bhp at 7,500rpm and is an absolute gem of a power plant.
Then they added the 7.4kWh electric motor, cleverly packaged within the bell-housing of the gearbox, which takes the figures up to 671bhp and 530lb ft., offering a top of 205mph, 0-62 in three seconds (two-tenths faster than the McLaren F1) and 124mph in 8.3 seconds. That’s the time it takes your average car to get to 60, if you are still awake. We have an eight-speed box rather than seven-speed, and the space for the extra gear was found by the absence of a reverse gear as that is handled by the electric motor alone.
The styling is supreme. It’s a handsome car that looks like it’s doing 100mph whilst it just sits on my drive. Some might say that it is ‘too McLaren’ in that this all-new car might have needed to look a little more different from its siblings to communicate the vast engineering steps taken but as l love the styling of all McLarens, l will not complain – and nor should others.
I have reviewed just about every model but this one took a bit of getting used to; not least, just starting it. It has to be flicked into e-mode to start and this gives you some 20 miles of silent power. Flick the switch into Sport or Track mode, and the mighty engine growls into life and dares you to push the accelerator.
It leaps out of the trap and pins you back in the seat with a sure-footedness that defies logic. And it just wants to keep going, and going. The expected turbo lag is overcome by the instant power of the electric motor, giving you linear, explosive power. There is wonderful feedback through the wheel; it turns into corners as if it’s clairvoyant, whipping out the other side as if warp speed has been engaged, as the roadside trees blur into one long smudge of green.
The ride is remarkable for a supercar and, if you select Comfort mode, it is superbly fluid. The steering feel cannot be rivalled by anything on sale today and, as it is hydraulically-assisted rather than electric, l really prefer that. The gearbox is seamless and clicks through gears with such panache that you feel, occasionally, that it intuitively knows what you are about to do. There seemed almost no corner l could not take at any speed, so sure-footed is this car. On the road, there is power galore – and that will never run out.
The interior is typically McLaren, with lightweight seats that snuggle you, buttons for the gear selection and a wonderful steering wheel not cluttered with button controls. The screen is now mounted to the drivers left, in easy reach. Controls for chassis and powertrain – still separate – are now on rockers either side of the dashboard, while the centre console only has five buttons, gears, start and hazard lights.
The e-motor element of the car, with the exception of covering the turbo lag, is a tad pointless to me but nothing takes away from the fact that this is a superb, very special car. My favourite model has always been the 720S, soon to be replaced by the 750S. l now battle with myself as to whether this takes the crown. l guess the ultimate answer will be when Woking sends me the 750S – then all will be revealed.
Model tested: McLaren Artura hybrid
Speed:0-62 in 3 seconds
As tested; £209,600