McLaren celebrates twelve years in the world of sports and luxury automobiles, a sector that does not stop growing but is increasingly competitive and that faces the difficult issue of ecology, because it is obvious that, with the obligation of electric motors , sensations will be lost in this type of supercar.
But while the time comes to launch electric sports cars – although these brands will have a moratorium for a few years – manufacturers have to continue lowering emissions, and McLaren has decided to take the bull by the horns and launch a plug-in hybrid mechanism in its flagship model. , the Artura, destined to capture half of the brand’s sales. What’s the score? How is this machine doing? Does it exceed expectations? McLaren has summoned us to California to resolve these and other questions.
The first is that McLaren has become a “lifestyle” brand, a precious object that reflects the social condition of those who buy it, which enters the small circle of a different supercar brand, with a certain extravagance due to its origin in the city. increasingly popular in the United States, current Formula 1 and, from now on, committed to the environment, hence its new mechanics. The Artura debuts almost from the first to the last screw, and that is why its staging has suffered some delay, because maximum quality has been sought from the first units, and that is noticeable behind the wheel.
The design matures with respect to that of previous models, and if before McLaren needed to show that it deserved a place among the big sports brands, with that challenge already achieved, it has focused on refining its image by making a car that is simpler and, at the same time , spectacular, where you can see that every detail is at the service of aerodynamic efficiency. The front has thinner headlights and is even lower, the side resolves the engine air intake with a line that begins at the door and ends at the rear wing, and the rear has a huge aluminum hood that houses all the mechanics. and that, in fact, it cannot be opened by the owner, only at a dealer.
The aerodynamics lose the mobile rear spoiler, so spectacular on the 720 and 750S, to rely everything on the lower diffuser, so that a reduction in aerodynamic resistance and consumption is achieved. The result is a design that is spectacular in its shape, but discreet in the details, leaving buyers to choose a striking color if they want everyone to turn their heads, something that is already achieved with the sound of the engine.
The entire chassis and body except the rear hood is made of carbon fiber, with a reduction in weight and increased resistance that makes this sports car as safe as a Formula 1, a detail that is not overlooked by McLaren buyers. .
The vertical opening doors are preserved, not like those of Lamborghini, which open scissor style, but with a butterfly-type opening that allows access to the interior. This is an evolution of the current models, with a screen for the clock panel that moves with the steering wheel when we adjust it, so that it is always in view. In the upper part that acts as the visor of this screen there are two controls, one on each side, to select the driving modes and the hardness of the suspension, respectively, so that only the gear shift buttons remain on the center console. , although we miss that the handbrake is also located there, since there is no parking mode. The steering wheel, without any buttons, leaves all the usual regulations to the central screen, which now has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a very useful selection wheel, and which shows that ‘less is more’, since it is simple and It works wonderfully without barely exceeding the dimensions of a large smartphone. The seats are spacious and ‘comfortable’ – for a sports car – thanks to seats that are quite good in all aspects, and which we can equip with additional six-point belts for use on the circuit.
The mechanics are another of the main complaints, and that is that McLaren leaves aside its acclaimed four-liter V8 engine and debuts a 3.0-liter V6. It may seem that the brand has simply removed two cylinders from its engine, but it is completely new, as shown by the fact that it has such an open V layout – at 120 degrees – that a little more and the brand makes a boxer-style engine. of the Porsche 911 or the Ferrari Testarossa.
The reason is to lower the weight position of the car to improve stability. This impressive engine produces 585 HP, and is joined by an axial-type electric motor with much better performance than most current electric motors, and which appears at the output of the gearbox, providing an extra 95 HP for a total of 680 CV. This is powered by a 7.4 kilowatt battery that allows the Artura to travel 30 kilometers in electric mode, becoming one of the lowest consumption supercars approved.
The brand’s press officer, Roger Ormisher, confirms the commercial intentions of this model. «The Artura is the gateway to the Supersport category, where we also have the 750S. “It is designed for those who had, for example, a Porsche 911 Turbo or an Audi R8 and are looking for something more exciting, to really enter the supercar category.” Roger tells us that his users use their cars a lot “we have found something that others do not have, because our cars triple the average kilometers traveled of other competing models, that means that if someone has several cars, they like to drive their McLaren , and if you only have our model, you use it constantly. Resale prices are high, so the brand trusts that this Artura will follow the good path set by its predecessors. Time to get going.
We adjust the belt, connect our iPhone to the multimedia equipment and get going. The roar of the V6 wakes us up, but we put it in electric mode and start moving in silence, something we do for the first few kilometers until what the hell! We haven’t come to San Francisco to test the electric mode, so we’re going to ‘sport’ – we still have the ‘track’ for circuits -, also putting the suspension in this sportier mode. The good news is that the performance is brutal, and the car accelerates so much that it seems to have no end. The not so good news is that, as we start to push the car, the speed figures are overwhelming and could land us in jail without much trouble for the American agents, so we decided to enjoy full acceleration and a gear change that, now with eight speeds, roars every time we press the gear shift paddles.
Traffic slows down, so the car switches to electric mode when we reach a crossroads, driving three cars in one: an electric one in the city, a hybrid when we go around and a real sports car as soon as we leave the last houses behind. and we accelerate fully. ‘Total Check’ as they say around these parts. The electric mode allows you to reach 130 kilometers per hour, but just a step on the accelerator is enough for the V6 to begin to delight us with its melody, not as sharp as that of the V8 but certainly very gratifying.
In this era of all-wheel drive sports cars, it is very satisfying that the Artura is only rear-wheel drive, leaving the front axle with delicious hydraulic steering that increases confidence on the road, without the floatation that other models with steering have. electric assisted. The car behaves well when braking, and it is not noticeable that it recharges the battery when we brake, it does so well that I am about to pass the McLaren phone number to a couple of brands. We arrive – finally – at an area of second and third speed curves on the Bodega Bay road, next to the Atlantic coast, and in these curves it shows all its lightness, barely 1,575 kilos, its way of walking at full speed and the ease with which the car enters each curve. The engine responds and sounds, but perhaps an adjustable exhaust would be perfect. What is clear is that taking it fast is relatively easy… and as we gain confidence we do so in security, linking curves at a dizzying pace.
The necessary ‘coffee break’ arrives – we were getting too hot – and we took the opportunity to record videos and take photos listening to the creaking of the records. When I get back on the road I put the ‘track’ mode on, which disconnects some safety functions, and the car tends to move in a rear that you have to know how to control. I wish we would enter the nearby Sonoma circuit, one of the two that are not oval in Nascar, so we could test it more thoroughly, but today we will be left wanting… the vineyards await us.
A real sports car
Returning to civilization on the famous Highway 101 that connects San Francisco with the California wine country, it seems to us that its engine makes a lot of noise and abandons the “grand tourer” spirit that we thought it had after the first few kilometers. This is a real sports car, with little insulation, with barely 140 liters of trunk under the front hood, hard suspensions and high noise levels. It is clearly a car to enjoy on short trips, outings with friends with similar cars and track days… but one that many use in their daily lives or to go to work, and we are not talking about a Bentley, but rather a car which collects the sporting tradition of one of the most successful brands in history, the only one with the triple crown: Le Mans, Monaco and Indianapolis, in its showcases.
Back at the hotel, the brand’s head of interior design shows us the number of customization options that exist, the new ultralight materials that even reach the leather of the seats and we know the price in Spain: 265,000 euros, although there are units with more than one hundred thousand euros in options. It is very likely that we will soon see a Spider and they confirmed the arrival of a GT4 version to create a one-make cup with these carbon fiber cars. Also that the future top of the range will have this mechanics but with a V8 configuration, unique cars that, like this Artura, place the brand in a field between sportiness, luxury and exclusivity to which McLaren has successfully accessed.