Although McLaren has, for now, ruled out any imminent arrival of a full electric hypercar, its engineers have clearly been busy developing the company’s latest hybrid, the new Artura.
This is in fact a “high-performance hybrid”, which means don’t expect a huge EV-only range. But the specs are, as you might expect, impressive. A new twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine combines with an electric motor and battery pack to produce 680PS (671bhp) and 720Nm. Some 577bhp comes from the new ICE engine while the rest from the electric motor, which alone contributes instant torque of up to 225Nm.
Translation: the £185,500 McLaren Artura will hit 0-100km/h in three seconds flat; 0-200km/h in 8.3 seconds; and 0-300km/h in 21.5 seconds. As well as shunning the usual twin-turbo V8, the powertrain is also 40 kilos lighter than the V8, which also helps it reach a quarter mile in 10.7 seconds. Max speed is limited to 205mph.
McLaren is claiming over 50mpg and 129g/km CO2 on the WLTP cycle. As for that EV-only range? the 7.4kWh battery is good for 30km, about 18.6 miles, with a max speed of 81mph. And, just like a Tesla, it can receive over-the-air software updates, too.
The Artura sits alongside McLaren’s other supercar, the 720S, but below the company’s ultimate series cars. Every element of the Artura is new – from the platform architecture – including a new carbon fibre tub, and every part of the hybrid powertrain – to the exterior body, interior and driver interface.
As well as using hybrid drive, McLaren has also developed faster responding turbos that combine with the response of the electric motor to give a throttle response twice as sharp than that found in the brand’s non- hybrid models.
Despite carrying that battery the Artura weighs just 1,395kg. That’s partly down to some impressive trimming – even the electrical cabling has been slimmed down by 10 per cent. This gives the car a mighty power-to-weight ratio of 488PS/tonne. Now, yes, the battery is small as it is not there to deliver 200-mile range, but the total weight of hybrid components here is just 130kg (including the 88kg battery pack and 15.4kg ‘e-motor’). The electric motor itself has a power density per kilo 33 per cent greater than the system used in McLaren’s P1.
Being a full plug-in hybrid (PHEV), the Artura can be charged to 80 per cent in 2.5 hours with a standard EVSE cable. The batteries can also draw power from the combustion engine.
For easier handling and a more enjoyable drive there’s adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, auto high-beam assist and road-sign recognition and Apple CarPlay. The Artura also comes with a Bluetooth low-energy key that detects when the driver is heading towards the vehicle and powers up systems in advance.
The exterior looks typical McLaren with a low-nose, cab-forward, high-tail profile alongside the familiar dihedral doors. The interior is more interesting, though, with a cockpit-centred layout.
The driving mode selection with separate powertrain and handling controls has been moved up to the instrument binnacle, which is in turn mounted to the steering column and therefore adjusts with the steering wheel. This means the steering wheel is kept clear of unnecessary switches, but the driver is still able to flip between driving modes without taking hands away from the wheel.
A first for McLaren is the use of an electronically controlled differential (e-diff), which is integrated directly into the car transmission. This improves agility as it independently locks and unlocks individual rear wheels to improve traction out of corners.
This is only McLaren’s third hybrid after the P1, which cost £866,000 in 2014, and the £1.75 million Speedtail in 2018. With lessons learned from both these pricier hybrid vehicles, McLaren will be hoping a less expensive model will prove popular with a traditionally ICE-loving customer base.
The march toward electrification cannot be ignored. Just this week Jaguar Land Rover announced that Jaguar was going all-electric by 2025 and that six all-electric Land Rovers will be arriving by 2024. But most other car companies are much further ahead.
Jeremy White is WIRED’s executive editor. He tweets from @jeremywired
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