205mph Artura PHEV starts new chapter for McLaren

McLaren has unveiled its first ‘clean sheet’ supercar since the game-changing 12C a decade ago, replacing almost every facet of its V8-engined Sports and Super Series models with an all-new design that provides early clues about how it will deal with the age of electrification.

The car, called the Artura and available to order now from £185,500, is a plugin hybrid with a governed 205mph top speed and 3.0sec 0-60mph acceleration.

In addition to the explosive performance, it can cruise for up to 19 miles on battery power alone and its combined fuel economy exceeds 50mpg.

At the kerb, the Artura weighs just 27kg more than a 720S even though its 671bhp powertrain consists of a newly designed twin-turbo V6 engine, a 92bhp electric motor and a 7.4kWh battery, all mated to a new eight-speed gearbox. The hybrid components weigh 130kg in their own right, showing the extent of McLaren’s weight-saving measures across the rest of the new car.

With the arrival of the Artura, McLaren is ditching its confusing policy of using numbers to distinguish its cars, in favour of names.

Also disappearing is the demarcation between Sports and Super Series models: the new car is positioned as a supercar, above the recently launched GT but below the £220,000 720S. McLaren has already confirmed that a full-electric model is under development and scheduled to hit the market “after 2025”.

Chassis and body design

The Artura has an all-new central carbonfibre tub that’s lighter than the one previous cars used, with aluminium crash beams front and rear and an aluminium rear subframe to support the engine and rear suspension. The ‘shrinkwrapped’ body panels are a combination of carbonfibre and Superformed aluminium.

The new passenger cell, made at McLaren’s Sheffield carbon works, weighs just 82kg, even though it extends further rearward than its predecessors to incorporate a super-stiff, crash-proof battery carrier.

It looks broadly similar to the outgoing components, but McLaren says the new chassis uses four new carbon materials, a new resin and a new structural core for greater stiffness. In addition, several bonded metal parts in the previous cars, including the windscreen surround, are replaced by carbon.

Although everything about the Artura’s structure is new, it seems there is an optimal size for a McLaren. Like the 570S and 720S, the Artura is a little over 4.5m in length and just under 2.0m wide but its 2640mm wheelbase shaves 30mm from that of the previous cars, aiding agility.

The Artura’s impressively low kerb weight of 1495kg results from a concerted weight-saving campaign that began four years ago. “Every drop of McLaren’s experience and expertise has been poured into Artura,” said McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt. “Its introduction is a landmark moment.”

Advertisement

Advertisement

Does this new 3.0 V6 have a modular relationship with your existing V8?

“Absolutely not. It’s an all-new design with a 120deg angle between the cylinder banks, built that way to house the turbochargers in the vee for compactness. I’m not sure there’s even one common component.”

The V6 seems quite unusual in that it has a smaller bore than stroke. That’s not common in high-revving engines. Is it for packaging?

“A smaller bore certainly helps in keeping the engine shorter, which was one of our objectives, but the main reason is that a smaller bore works better with the direct injection we needed to use.”

You’ve worked hard to cut engine noise when the car is cruising, but we gather that it still sounds great when pulling hard. Why the big difference?

“We knew this car was going to operate in a near-silent e-mode some of the time, and it seemed to us people would also expect refinement when the car was cruising under V6 power, too. So we have done our best to remove the harsh sounds and leave the noises people like most when an engine is working. One change was to move the chain drive to the camshafts from the front of the engine to the rear, where the noise is more remote and the torsional vibration is lower.”

What do you rate as your greatest achievement with this engine?

“I’d probably have to say the low weight. It really does set a new standard for supercars. I’ve just been looking at a V6 produced by one of our rivals, wondering how they managed to make it so heavy. And so big…”