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Car Review

Mclaren Artura Spider review

£222,760
810
Published: 16 Jun 2024
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Good stuff

Ride and handling, engine has a bit more character now, rapid and easily accessible performance

Bad stuff

Design could be sharper, car is almost too refined, infotainment screen too small

Overview

What is it?

The Artura didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts. To recap: the first in a new generation of McLarens, it’s the hybrid model that combines an all-new ICE with an electric motor and plug-in capacity. As well as improving overall performance and enhancing efficiency, this is the supercar that you can waft silently through town in, using a saintly whiff of throttle and emitting nothing more than an air of self-congratulation.

That was the aim, anyway. Unfortunately, Artura v1.0 suffered a delayed launch and various maladies when it did finally land, some of the company’s own making, others down to forces beyond its control. McLaren is obviously not spinning it this way, but the arrival of the Artura Spider signifies an early reboot for the model as a whole. With some upgrades.

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Hmm. Glad they got there in the end. So what’s new?

Well, most obviously the Spider gets a folding hardtop roof for extra sensation and a lightly altered aesthetic. The other changes promise more power, more performance and more driver engagement, says McLaren. It’s fair to say that this lot are fans of former British cycling boss Steve Brailsford’s ‘marginal gains’ philosophy. They just won’t stop tinkering, but as ever with McLaren the devil is in the detail. The hybridised 3.0-litre twin turbo V6 now has a nice round total power output of 700PS (a less eye-catching but still extremely useful 690bhp). That’s an increase of 20bhp over Artura v1.0, an upgrade McLaren’s dealers will offer to owners of the earlier car FOC.

It was and remains a hell of an engine, this. It weighs just 160kg, 50kg less than the 4.0-litre V8 that’s powered most McLarens so far. It’s also impressively compact and has a reduced centre of gravity. Rather than a 90-degree V, the cylinders sit at a 120-degree angle, which also reduces pressure losses in the exhaust. The twin turbos sit within a ‘hot vee’ configuration, which means they can spin faster with helpful consequences for throttle response.

Artura v2.0 also gets a revised exhaust system, with a new resonator and conically shaped tailpipe to sharpen the engine note in the middle and higher part of the rev range. We remember discussing the finer points of an engine’s soundtrack with McLaren’s CEO Michael Leiters when he was still the tech magus at Ferrari. He likes a sports car to sound operatic.

There are other changes for the MY25 – already? – Artura. New engine mounts limit the movement of the powertrain within the chassis, particularly under load. Stability, steering feel and agility are all said to have improved as a result. The adaptive dampers get new valving and changes to the control software speed up and sharpen response time for even keener body control.

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And what of the hybrid part of the mix? Any changes there?

The Artura uses the same axial flux e-motor, which is integrated into the gearbox’s bell housing. McLaren’s engineers found the room by dispensing with a reverse gear; the e-motor handles that job. It’s good for the same 94bhp and 166lb ft as before, though it chips in a bit earlier now, and is fed by a 7.4kWh battery pack that’s packaged behind the seats.

The claimed range in electric mode has risen from 19 miles to 21, a modest increase that may evaporate in real world use but illustrates the improvements in energy density that can be achieved. More marginal gains. Note also that the Artura’s chassis incorporates an ethernet electrical network that reduces cabling by 25 per cent and increases data capacity and speeds. Another weight saving.

And the Spider part?

That’s courtesy of a carbon-composite folding hardtop, powered by eight electric motors. It can be activated from the key-fob, or by a centrally mounted switch above your head by the interior light. It takes 11 seconds to open or close, and can do so at speeds up to 31mph. An electrochromic glass panel is an option (scroll through the gallery above), which can block out 99 per cent of the sun’s rays at another button push and uses something called ‘Suspended Particle’ technology to reduce heat transfer. A small heated rear screen can also be raised or lowered electrically for more air or noise.

The Artura’s buttresses – one of the Coupe’s stand-out styling features – have glazed sections to improve rear visibility. Some aero-thermal trickery involving new ducting keeps the engine cool even with a roof stashed away on top of it. There’s also a reshaped windscreen surround – a mini Gurney flap – to reduce buffeting in the cabin.

The McLaren Artura Spider is one cleverly packaged car, all told. And a more complex design than first appears, aided by the use of super-forming to fashion its aluminium body panels.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

It’s a deeply impressive car, easy to drive quickly but with extra layers that reveal themselves the more you push it

Bandwidth is the word here. In becoming a Spider, and a v2.0, the Artura somehow gains the character it was missing, while chasing out the gremlins that blighted its early days. Singling out its comfort and ease of use is like a prelude to damning it with faint praise, until you find the sort of roads that allows its chassis to really shine. It’s a deeply impressive car, easy to drive quickly but with extra layers that reveal themselves the more you push it.

The exterior design remains a little polite for a car of this type, and despite the changes to the engine and exhaust it’s still not as dramatic sounding as it could be. Yet the Artura Spider is a very satisfying place to find yourself, and a convincing rival to the likes of the Aston Martin Vantage, (much costlier) Ferrari 296 GTS, Lamborghini Huracán Spyder, Mercedes AMG GT, and Porsche 911 Turbo.

The Rivals

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