Has hybrid supercar got through its teething troubles? Our new arrival will reveal all

Why we’re running it: To see if the most important McLaren in a dozen years is as easy to live with as it is fun to drive

Month 1 - Month 2 - Month 3 - Month 4Specs

Life with a McLaren Artura: Month 4

I met up with a friend who has owned a few McLarens, including a 570GT, a 675LT and his current 720S, so he was naturally keen to try the Artura. That meant I had to drive back in his Porsche 911 R. The things I do for my mates… His verdict? “The Artura is very, very impressive, easy to drive really fast, even if doesn’t quite have the 720S’s punch up top.” I don’t disagree. And the R? Fabulous

Mileage: 4921

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Life with a McLaren Artura: Month 3

A supercar that can do 1285 miles on one tank of fuel? Maybe after the update… - 20 March

It seems strange having seemingly just got hold of the Artura to discover the car is already being updated. Now it is entirely normal for companies to fractionally change their cars with each new model year, but this is no minor cosmetic tweak: it's a major mechanical upgrade.

Because it coincides with the arrival of the Spider version, it might be easy to miss that the revised Artura comes with another 20bhp, 25% quicker shift times, electronic dampers that react 90% faster, a new exhaust system to make the most of the V6's natural tones, a wheelspin mode to the launch control to maximise gravel-spitting getaway drama and even a couple of additional miles added to its electric-only range.

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What should current Artura owners think of this? Largely, I think they should rejoice because the exciting part, that extra 20bhp, will be bequeathed upon their car too the very next time it visits a dealership. So you will drive in with a 671bhp Artura, and drive out with a 691bhp Artura, or 700PS as McLaren likes to call it. The price?No pounds and no pence.

Talking of progress, one of the greatest advances made by McLaren Automotive during the 13 years in which it has been selling cars is in its infotainment system and we should not underestimate just how important a component of the buying decision this can be.

From the early MP4-12Cs that were delivered with navigation controls but no actual navigation, to McLaren's dreadful home-grown IRIS system, to the better but not brilliant Android-based system that replaced it, to what we have in the Artura today - fully functioning Apple CarPlay - the transformation has been extraordinary.

And while you might rightly point out that CarPlay is now available in some of the cheapest cars on sale, to climb into something as exotic as this and for it to just work exactly the way you want it to is an absolute godsend.

And anyone who has ever spent time wrestling with the hideously clunky systems that have so often been fitted in the cabins of genuine low-volume supercars will know of what I speak.

Meanwhile, for those waiting for it to go wrong, your ordeal continues. I will concede that the range display is almost meaningless after one fill, it briefly suggested I could go 1285 miles on that tank, which I think would mean averaging something like 80mpg-but I can remember the 720S I ran a while back doing exactly the same. 

I know they all do that, sir is the lamest excuse, but in the interests of accuracy, it's worth pointing out. Of course, when I came to photograph this nonsense to illustrate my point, it flashed up an entirely plausible 285 miles. Other faults or quirks?

One morning when the car was frozen solid, it took a bit of a yank to open a door because the window momentarily refused to drop. But beyond that, I'm really struggling.

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There is something else I am a little diffident to point out as I have no empirical evidence to back it up. While it is fabulously fast and undoubtedly one of those cars that always feels like it's going slower than it actually is, it's not quite tearing my face off when I give it full beans, or at least not until quite a head of speed has already been accrued.

And I have a theory about this, which goes as follows: the car knows it's on winter tyres not just because the tyres contain microchips that constantly post messages on the car's electronic bulletin board, but also because the car itself is set to winter tyre mode.

And I think this holds back performance until the car is absolutely assured of total traction, which in the wet in a car like this can be a fairly illegal speed.

I often see the little traction light glowing away. I also remember exactly the same happening with the 720S - despite it not having 'cybertyres' and it going absolutely berserk the moment I strapped on some summer rubber.

Which is what I'm anticipating will happen with the Artura, especially if it gains another 20bhp in the process, which, I am told, it will. I cannot wait.

Like it

An Apple a day...

With standard CarPlay, the single biggest bar to daily usage of a McLaren has been removed.

Loathe it

Get a grip

Bogus range claims and needlessly early traction control intervention on winter tyres are minor gripes.

Mileage: 4554

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Life with a McLaren Artura: Month 2

Bicester show car has come under fire, verbally and physically - 7 February 

The other day, I was at the Bicester Heritage sunday Scramble, a brilliant, classless event for petrolheads and even electroheads (if such creatures there may be) of every description.

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I was there with the Artura, which formed part of a small display. As a result, I spent most of my day talking to people about it.

And while it is true that most of the comments were flattering to the car (they like the look, even if it is too similar to previous McLarens, the £4400 Ember Orange paint job and the idea of its downsized V6 plug-in hybrid powertrain), so too were there one or two more pointed conversations to be had.

The first went: "Yeah, it's all very well, but it's not as good as a Ferrari 296 GTB, is it?" To which the answer was: "That isn't a fair comparison, because while both are indeed powered by 120deg, twin-turbo, hybrid-assisted engines, the Ferrari costs £65,000 more than the Artura and over £10,000 more even than the new McLaren 750S, which, while less powerful, has a better power-to-weight ratio than the Ferrari."

The second conversation- and I had it a few times that day - started with a question and a smirk: "Has it gone wrong yet?" To which the answer was: "Save having the incorrect cruise control wand fitted, since corrected, it has not yet even looked like going wrong." It's early days and that should be nothing to crow about, but it shows what McLaren is up against in some people's perceptions.

Which is not to say nothing's broken. A couple of weeks ago, I was driving home in the dark on one of those foul days we've been lumbered with of late and I dropped a wheel into what I thought was a puddle which turned out to be a water-filled pothole - a deep, sharp-edged pothole with vertiginous sides.

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There was a bang followed by a bong and I knew at once whence both came. The bang was the tyre puncturing and the wheel buckling, the bong the car telling me as much. Except I was wrong. To my utter amazement, given the noise and the jolt, the wheel and tyre looked absolutely fine.

The bong was a warning that the car had lost its ability to monitor its tyre pressure. It turns out these Sottozero winter boots are also what Pirelli calls 'cyber tyres' and inside each is a sensor that lets the car know its temperature and pressure.

Very clever. Unless, that is, you're unlucky enough for the tyre to be impacted hard right on the point of its circumference where the sensor is located. Which is precisely what happened to me. The tyre itself was undamaged, but the sensor had been knocked out and the only way to clear the warning on the dash was for it to be replaced.

Even so, I wouldn't replace those Sottos for anything. Pirelli's track-day rubber isn't the greatest, and I have even felt in the past that some of McLaren's more extreme products have been held back by it (the Senna in particular), but if there's a better grim-weather tyre than this, I've not driven on it.

Like it

Come rain or shine

It offers effortless all-weather performance on its Pirelli winter tyres, with almost no deterioration in feel or ride quality.

Loathe it

Energy shortage

In EV mode, the engine can start up before the battery is empty, limiting further the already quite short electric-only range. In EV mode, the engine can start up before the battery is empty, limiting further the already quite short electric-only range.

Mileage: 3673

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Life with a McLaren Artura: Month 1

Who says supercars aren't practical? - 31 January

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Because I have beer-swilling family and friends, every year I do the bulk of my Christmas shopping at the fabulous Wye Valley Brewery. I was a bit nervous about trying to fit eight mini kegs of its best and most famed brew, Butty Bach, in the nose of the Artura (that is 72 pints, after all), but in the event it would have probably swallowed a dozen. Who says such cars aren’t practical?

Mileage: 3299

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Welcoming the Artura to the fleet - 17 January 2024

It has, it should be said, been a while. We first drove the McLaren Artura in the summer of 2022 at a launch that had itself been delayed from the autumn of 2021.

And even then, the car wasn't ready. As road test editor Matt Saunders put it at the time: "The Artura will be a fine car, I expect, once its maker has finally and fully answered the challenges associated with its armoury of new technology, among which number a completely new carbonfibre chassis tub; a new electrical architecture; an all-new V6 engine and eight-speed transmission; a new generation of infotainment system; and all of its plug-in hybrid componentry. But the Artura's time of readiness, I fear, may not be quite here yet."

Sometimes I goggle at the sheer ambition of this project, just as I did a few years back when another comparatively tiny car maker called Aston Martin decided to create an all-new platform for its all-new SUV and build it in an all-new factory.

Just delivering the Artura's engine to market, emissions-compliant and fully homologated right around the world, would have been a task to make Hercules think he'd got off lightly.

When Aston tried the same, the whole thing ended up in the bin. And that electrical architecture, faster, lighter and fit for McLarens for generations to come though it is, would have been no less of a headache. No wonder there were teething troubles.

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But this particular Artura is the real deal, or at least it needs to be. Unlike the launch cars, it's no pre-production prototype but a customer-specification one for which no excuse should be needed or made - nicely run in, on the button, ready to go.

And for the next few months, through weather fair and most likely foul, it's going to be my daily driver.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited by the prospect. I know we should be all gimlet-eyed over such things, but if you can manage that when someone lobs you the keys to a sub-1500kg, 671bhp supercar and doesn't want them back for a while, it's possible that you're in the wrong line of work - or play.

I could have had a lot more say in its specification, but so busy is McLaren filling existing orders that a new car wouldn't have arrived until the summer, and while I might enjoy it even more then, I don't think anyone wants to wait any longer - and besides, a cold, wet winter is a far sterner challenge. If it can prove itself to be an all-season, all-reason kind of supercar, that will be a potent point in its favour.

All I asked for was a car with comfort seats, because I intend to drive it a long way, and a nose lift to enable it to get down my drive. What turned up was a car with an option spend of over £30,000, which may sound a lot but which I expect is fairly typical, perhaps even slightly modest.

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I was a little concerned when I heard it was orange (I'm a dark grey or blue don't-look-at-me kind of guy), but this is the darkest of four oranges, and I think it looks great.

The Performance Pack adds nappa leather, some titanium finishes, Alcantara surfacing and so on, while the Technology Pack adds a 12-speaker audio upgrade, adaptive cruise control, parking cameras and lane departure warning - which defaults to off, where it will remain.

The only other chunky costs were the sports exhaust, which I wouldn't have unless someone told me it were essential for resale value, and gorgeous 10-spoke, ultra-lightweight forged alloy wheels.

I'm mildly amused by the Practicality Pack, which adds the nose lift, parking sensors and soft-close doors - amused because it's a no-cost option and I'd be interested to see if McLaren could supply a car without it.

Why not just make it standard? I'm not sure, but my inner cynic isn't blind to the fact that were it made so, the car's kerb weight would be fractionally over, not under, the magic 1500kg mark...

First impressions? Wrong cruise control stalk aside (it lacks the button that varies the distance to the vehicle ahead but otherwise works just fine), the car is perfect. Fit and finish is exactly what you would hope it would be for such a car and those electronics have as yet not dropped so much as a stitch.

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And I'm already a huge fan of the electric side. The power it brings, the lag it eliminates and so on are for later reports, but right now, as I get to know the car, I treat it like a civility mode.

It allows me to creep away from the house at appalling hours in the morning without disturbing my neighbours, I waft silently through towns and villages with any prior announcement of my arrival and on journeys that come within its 19-mile range, it makes this supercar cheaper to run than my 1.5-litre Volkswagen Golf.

These are early days for the Artura and me, but if the idea was to make up for lost time, it could hardly be doing it better than this.

Second Opinion

Being a supercar, the Artura has clear appeal, but it’s its specific flavour of supercar-ness that I find especially compelling. It may be a hybrid and supremely complex, but it has an organic, subtly gritty manner about it that you don’t find elsewhere. The comfort seats are a good idea, too.

Richard Lane

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McLaren Artura specification

Specs: Price New £189,200 Price as tested £221,400 

Options Technology Pack £6800, sports exhaust £4700, super-lightweight forged alloy wheels £4500, performance interior £4400, Ember Orange elite paint £4400, powered and heated comfort seats with memory £3300, Black Pack £2000, gloss black interior finish £1100, Stealth exhaust finish £1000, Practicality Pack £0

Test Data: Engine V6, 2993cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol, plus 94bhp axial-flux electric motor Power 671bhp at 7500rpm Torque 531lb ft Kerb weight 1498kg Top speed 205mph 0-62mph 3.0sec Fuel economy 61.5mpg CO2 104g/km Faults Wrong cruise control stalk fitted Expenses None

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Join the debate

Add a comment…
johnfaganwilliams 30 January 2024

Most important comment  to me is "but so busy is McLaren filling existing orders that a new car wouldn't have arrived until the summer." Hope this means happy days ahead at Woking. 

jason_recliner 26 January 2024

Some assignments are better than others! Hard to belive this hand-built work of mechanical art costs less than some mass-produced VWs. What an epic achievement.

scrap 25 January 2024

Nice! I'm sure you will enjoy this custodianship... what a treat.

The Artura seems to be a very compelling car, and possibly one that's safer to park on the street than a Ferrari or Lamborghini? Interested to know how it copes with daily driver duties.