The McLaren Artura Exists Merely for Its Own Entertainment

Despite its newfangled hybrid powertrain, the way the Artura corners remains its party piece.

byChris Tsui|
Chris Tsui
Chris Tsui.


There’s an idea in Confucianism that placing your feet above somebody’s head is a sign of great disrespect—and I agree. The ground is filthy. A person's face is the window to the soul. The McLaren Artura, however, seemingly does not care about this because every time you open one of its butterfly doors, the side skirt caked in whatever filth you’ve been driving in will meet you at eye level. The gall.

Another lowkey gesture of disrespect? The Artura is a plug-in hybrid which means, here in Ontario at least, it’s eligible for Green Vehicle plates. This means it’s allowed to travel in HOV lanes, a system intended to cut carbon emissions by encouraging carpooling and the purchase of eco-friendly hybrids and EVs. Because a mid-engined supercar capable of 205 mph is on the right side of environmental history, y'know. 

Chris Tsui

At every turn, the McLaren Artura drops subtle hints that it doesn’t really care about you or indeed anybody else—and that its on-road talents, as great as they are, exist ultimately for its own entertainment. 

The Basics

This stubbornly insular attitude can be seen in the way it looks. Where Ferrari and Lamborghini have long, precious aesthetic legacies to protect, McLaren has no such baggage. Hence, its cars are mostly shaped by science. The Artura, like most other McLarens, looks like an open-wheel racer that's had liquid sheet metal draped over it in a wind tunnel. The entire rear end looks like one big diffuser. It's lean, low, slippery, and... not exactly what I'd call classically beautiful. But in person, it is extremely striking—AI-generated exotic car vibes.

This lack-of-actual-styling-as-its-own-flavor-of-styling continues inside. Surfaces look as if they've been melted onto minimalist frames. An 8.0-inch touchscreen (small in the context of modern luxury cars) is canted toward the driver and floats in place while a set of gear and hazard buttons sit simply and conveniently below, topped by a glowing red engine start button. There are no buttons on the skeletal steering wheel and drive modes relating to power and handling sit at the corners of the gauge cluster, reachable without ever taking your hands off the wheel. It's a purposeful cabin made of carbon fiber, expensive-feeling alloys, leather, and huge swaths of Alcantara.

Getting into it, by the way, always feels like an event. Butterfly doors swing up and away, making you feel sufficiently glamorous until, of course, you realize there is a bunch of dirt mere inches away from your meticulously moisturized face every time you get back in it after driving in some rain. Because of the carbon tub construction, the door sill is wide and high, but climbing over it isn't too difficult. The Huracán was like this too, but a tiny pedal box meant there wasn't a lot of room for my left foot. And while I appreciate the purity and driver-focused attitude that comes with a button-free steering wheel, the ability to skip to the next track without having to mess with the touchscreen would've been nice. Bowers & Wilkins audio sounded surprisingly great, by the way.

All of the Artura's inherent livability supercar compromises melt away when you look in the rearview mirror and see the mirage-y air waving above the engine situated behind you, obscuring the view of the enemies you've vanquished.

Driving the McLaren Artura

Spewing those gases is a 671-horsepower (690 with the recently announced update), 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 banked, for the first time in a production V6, at an ultra-wide 120 degrees. This makes it closer to a Porsche-style flat-six rather than, say, the upright six-cylinder you'd find in an Audi or something. It sounds the part, too, with the turbos hissing theatrically and the sheer volume and gruff of the audio coming from the lump practically shouting, "I am a supercar, now get out of my way." The Artura may pack the angriest V6 you ever did hear, but its most interesting noises arguably have nothing to do with internal combustion.

Chris Tsui

An axial flux electric motor situated inside the transmission bell housing delivers 94 hp on its own along with all of the sci-fi whirrs and dial tones the words "axial flux" would suggest. It is incredibly cool and mechanical in a way that's wholly different from what you'd get from a gas-only supercar. You know those clips of Cadillac's LMDh prototype racer electrically whirring its way away from the pits before internal combustion menacingly roars into the picture, letting it storm into the night? Setting off in the McLaren Artura feels a bit like that.

It's quick, too, because duh. From a dig, 60 mph arrives in 3 seconds flat and the quarter mile is done in 10.7. It's electronically limited to a top speed of 205 mph and consistently, constantly able to thrust your spine firmly into the back of the seat at a moment's notice. The eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, too, is a joy to use. Quick to shift in manual mode and predictively smart in auto. The paddles themselves—carbon in this example—feel like motorsport in movement, as does the steering wheel: thin-rimmed with nine-and-three grips you just know are sculpted from the sort of McLarens usually piloted by dudes named Lando or Oscar. 

Chris Tsui

As intriguing, entertaining, and capable as this car's hybrid powertrain is, the Artura's main draw is arguably still the way it handles. Hydraulic steering is seriously such a treat, you guys. It bristles and wriggles in your hands as the front tires travel over uneven pavement; bumps and crevices in the ground hit your palms like the handlebars of a broken shopping cart. I am one with the machine and the machine is me.

Exceptional feedback isn't just found in textures, though, because I can't remember driving a car that steered more sharply and directly than this. It's a light directness, too, and makes the 3,303-pound Artura feel hundreds of pounds lighter than it already is. There’s an otherworldly deftness and, dare I say it, superhuman agility to the way this car approaches, attacks, and leaves behind a corner. On seat-of-the-pants, fingertip sensations alone, you'd never guess that there were any heavy hybrid batteries or motors anywhere. Until, of course, you arrive at an empty straight, at which point the V6 and electricity combine forces to provide thrust like little else.

Chris Tsui

Artura's brakes feel similarly serious. The pedal is a good several notches heavier and impossibly short-travel in the pedal compared to most other cars. Carbon ceramics featuring Formula 1-inspired, 765LT-derived integrated caliper cooling ducts are mighty, never jerky, and damn near perfect as an input device.


Calmed down and used as a method of transport, the entry-level McLaren definitely isn't a grand tourer (the company offers the GTS for that) but it’s... manageable. The Artura is dailyable in the same way your buddy's straight-piped Toyobaru is "dailyable." You could do it, things could be worse, and Brandon indeed somehow makes it work, but noise and ride comfort are absolutely going to be the first things less car-obsessed passengers notice, and not necessarily in a good way.

While we're talking caveats, the McLaren Artura does indeed have more. And, not to reinforce old British car stereotypes, but they pretty much all have to do with electronics. Apple CarPlay is wired (wireless connection is coming in next year's model) but once randomly disconnected and refused to recognize and connect to my phone again, forcing a clean slate "forget this device" procedure on both the car's software and my iPhone. The little bird's-eye Artura picture in the 360-camera view has the car framed in what I'm assuming is a perfectly rectangular jpg complete with black, 90-degree corners because a backgroundless png file just... wasn't in the budget?

I feel like buried somewhere deep beneath the Artura's future-facing powertrain and general spaceship aura is some embarrassingly primitive, Williams Excel sheet-esque electronic backbone. Because on multiple occasions, little things like screen brightness and the windshield wipers needed a little reset input to effectively wake up and "remember" what they should be doing.

Not to go all tin-foiled hat, but perhaps that stuff is all an Ioniq 5 N-like preprogrammed ruse. Orchestrated flaws to give the impression of an oafish character. A high school valedictorian pretending to be bad at sports or manufacturing social awkwardness because they know if people saw their true, full potential, they'd come off as insufferable and have no real friends.

Or, more likely, the Artura is simply that rough around the edges.

Chris Tsui

The Verdict

As a driving machine, the McLaren Artura is a standout piece of hardware. I like it better than the Acura NSX, it’s more fleet-footed than the Lamborghini Huracán, and (GT3 RS and its various limited-edition specials notwithstanding perhaps) it’s way cooler looking and characterful than the Porsche 911. 

I’m not gonna sit here and pretend its hybrid V6 powertrain is as brawnily romantic as a V8 or as violently musical as a V10—in the arena of emotion, there really isn’t a replacement for displacement. But it’s appealing in a new, different way. The electronic noises are cool in their own right. It whirrs and hums and hisses underneath you like the world’s coolest, fastest Rube Goldberg machine. Quietly whooshing away from a light only to hear that rambunctious V6 fire to life as you hook onto the freeway is a theatrical motoring moment in its own right.

Chris Tsui

Ultimately, though, the McLaren Artura is a car that doesn't really care what you think. Sometimes I get the feeling that it barely cares what its driver thinks. From the decidedly un-feng shui doors and business-over-beauty styling to the hater-bait powertrain, comically janky electronics, and *checks notes* hydraulic steering in 2024, everything the Artura does, it does to serve itself.

And if cars are reflections of their drivers, it doesn't really get more supercar than that.

2023 McLaren Artura Specs
Base Price (Canadian-spec as tested)$237,500 ($369,644 CAD)
Powertrain3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 plug-in hybrid | 8-speed dual-clutch automatic | rear-wheel drive
Horsepower671 @ 7,500 rpm (690 with free update)
Torque531 lb-ft @ 2,250-7,000 rpm
Seating Capacity2
Curb Weight3,303 pounds
Cargo Volume5.3 cubic feet
0-60 mph3.0 seconds
Top Speed205 mph
EPA Fuel Economy18 mpg combined on gasoline only | 39 mpge electric and gas
Quick TakeStubborn supercar standout.

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