Putting the McLaren Artura, the all-new, next-generation, High-Performance Hybrid supercar through its paces in California's wine country.
Written by Bridget Williams / Photos courtesy of McLaren
After exhausting my arsenal of automotive knowledge in conversation with Roger Ormisher, Vice President of Communications and PR for McLaren in The Americas, at an exquisite lunch at Aperture Cellars served on a table embellished with bright orange flowers that recalled the head-turning McLaren Artura parked nearby, our table topic took a philosophical turn. Roger asked me and my tablemates if our minds would be at ease if today were our last. Had we gotten everything out of life we wanted up to this point?
It was a poignant reminder of why moments matter. Just an hour before, I was behind the wheel of an Silica White Artura, enjoying a windows-down driving experience that allowed the intoxicating scents of redwood and sea air to commingle, feeling the pulse-quickening acceleration, and noticing how certain exhaust notes made the hair at the back of my neck stand on end. It was one of the rare instances where I enjoyed being fully present to live in the moment. And, though I'm not quite ready to punch out on my life's time clock, a lifelong chase after carpe diem, which on this day included thoroughly testing the Artura's cornering capabilities, means that, like my delicious lunch that day, nothing is left on the table.
While I would have accepted an offer to pilot the Artura down my street, given the opportunity to do so through the varied terrain of California's Sonoma County, starting from the Montage in Healdsburg was a no-brainer. The evening before our drive, we took a deep dive into the McLaren culture during an alfresco dinner at the Montage. As the last rays of sunlight cast a golden hue on the vineyards weaving through the luxury wine country hideaway, an A-list team of Ormisher, Nicolas Brown, President of McLaren Americas, Jo Lewis, McLaren's Head of Color and Materials Design, and Nolan Gray, Product Pricing and Fleet Specialist, shared the story of the world's last independent small volume manufacturer of high-performance vehicles.
"Motorsports are the core of our DNA," explained Brown. He went on to illuminate how the Artura, McLaren's first-ever seriesproduction High-Performance Hybrid (HPH) supercar, represents the distillation of more than a half-century of McLaren's expertise and experience in race- and road-car engineering. Artura, the name for this "clean sheet" design, comes from combining "art" and "future."
Extremely lightweight even with the battery, McLaren engineers employed a 'form-follows-function' design philosophy in devising the all-new McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture (MCLA), uniquely optimized for HPH powertrains and built in-house. A single MCLA tub is strong enough to withstand the weight of 15 Arturas stacked on top of it. Audiophiles will appreciate the tubmounted subwoofer's clean, crisp sound free of vibrations. Sexy and supercar go hand-in-hand, and the exterior's super-formed aluminum panels perform like Spanx in accentuating Artura's sinuous curves with a functional 'shrink-wrapped' look.
Designed around the driver, "it's all about having fun behind the wheel at any speed," remarked Brown. And, with an all-new twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 petrol engine with an E-motor and energy-dense battery pack, producing combined outputs of 671bhp and 530lb-ft, there's plenty of fun to be had. Rather than just becoming a garage trophy, McLaren owners put three times more miles on their supercars than other top-tier manufacturers in this realm.
A mandate to cut weight without cutting corners resulted in several innovations, including a first-to-market domain-based ethernet electrical architecture that's twenty-five percent lighter and allows for over-the-air updates. Not only are the Pirelli P ZERO™ CORSA tires extra grippy, but their innovative Pirelli Cyber Tyre® technology allows for real-time data collection resulting in improved handling.
While all the engineering and performance aspects are undoubtedly important and exciting, if the package isn't captivating, then it's all for naught. That's where Jo Lewis comes in. A master’s graduate of the Royal College of Art specializing in textiles and technology, Lewis worked for Stella McCartney before moving to the automotive industry. Her involvement with Artura stretches back to 2016. "Design is cross-functional with engineering," explained Lewis, who added that McLaren's small volume means that customers get closer contact with corporate in the bespoke realm via McLaren Special Operations.
Applying NASA-level knowledge to her craft, Lewis’ portfolio of innovations is quite impressive. A newly developed method for leather interiors leans on her aerospace experience to deliver thirty-percent weight savings. She's devised ways to make cashmere applicable in an automotive setting, taking advantage of its wicking abilities. "Slip and grip" embossing in key touchpoints makes getting in and out of a McLaren easier. Ultrafabric, derived from the yachting sector, is durable, lightweight, and weather-resistant. If seeing your name in lights is insufficient, Lewis has found ways to weave it into your carbon fiber dashboard (even using 24-karat gold). Available contour paint jobs highlight the Artura's aerodynamics akin to contouring cheekbones with bronzer.
Fog shrouded the Healdsburg hillsides on the morning of my drive. Nolan Gray escorted me to my Silica White Artura with a sumptuous all Alcantara interior, including the steering wheel, making it feel so luxurious in my hands. The scissor doors opened effortlessly, and a single finger provided enough force for closing. I sank into the Clubsport bucket seat, and at the push of a button, the Artura started in EV mode, and I set off like a silent assassin buzzing through the vineyards.
Knowing that 0-60mph straight-line acceleration is achievable in 3.0 seconds, I anxiously looked for a wide-open straightaway to switch the powertrain mode into Track to test the stat. As soon as I pressed the accelerator, the back of my head pressed into the seat, prompting me to yell "woohoo!" out of the open windows. In the interest of safety (and not wanting to go to jail!) I resisted finding out if sprinting 0–186mph takes a reported 21.5 seconds, so I'll have to take McLaren's word for it.
Throughout my roughly 50-mile journey over varied terrain, I switched between Artura's four powertrain modes: E-mode, Comfort, Sport, and Track. Artura can drive up to 11 miles on battery power alone, and when I found I'd nearly exhausted its EV range, I switched to Sport mode to replenish the battery. I became giddy when a "Curves Ahead" road sign popped up, knowing that I'd be able to hug them as tightly as an old friend. At the halfway point, our driving group convened at The Birds Café in Bodega Bay, and our tricked-out Arturas in hues ranging from lowkey to lookat-me created quite a stir. "I guess I'm a car girl now!" exclaimed one of my colleagues from New York City, who said she "didn't get car people" until she got acquainted with Artura.
Truth be told, no one needs to own a McLaren, but at the end of the day, getting from point A to B is entirely more exhilarating for those wanting to squeeze every last drop out of life.
Artura is priced from $233,000 for the standard specification. Every McLaren Artura comes as standard with a five-year vehicle warranty, a six-year battery warranty and a 10-year body perforation corrosion warranty. More information is available at https://cars.mclaren.com/en/artura.