McLaren debuted the Artura supercar earlier this year. It will become the brand’s new entry-level car when it goes on sale later in 2021, replacing the “Sport Series” cars like the 570S and 600LT. And it’s completely new.
Except for the F1, all previous McLarens have employed different versions of the same V8 engine and carbon-fiber monocoque tubs. The Artura, on the other hand, is powered by a V6 plug-in hybrid engine, and the carbon monocoque—which must accommodate the high-voltage battery pack—is equally new.
McLaren had previously outsourced construction of its carbon-fiber “monocell” chassis to Carbo Tech, an Austrian business. However, McLaren plans to construct its own composite manufacturing facility in Sheffield, England, in 2020, and the Artura’s chassis, termed the McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture, will be built in-house.
More than 500 pieces of carbon fiber are laser cut and assembled into 72 pre-forms, which make up 11 subassemblies that join together to form the finished tub, according to McLaren. However, it is not a carbon-free vehicle. The Artura will have aluminum body panels, just like the current Sport Series McLarens. Despite this, it manages to achieve a respectable curb weight of 3,303 pounds (1,498 kg).
The new engine, codenamed M630, is a 3.0 L twin-turbocharged V6 with 577 horsepower (430 kW) and 431 lb-ft of torque (584 Nm). The V6 has a 120-degree vee-angle between the cylinder banks, as well as a “hot-vee” layout, in which the turbochargers are nestled in-between the two banks of cylinders on top of the engine. This aids packaging, but it also means that the exhaust gases must traverse shorter distances, making the engine more responsive.
It was built from the ground up with hybridization in mind, necessitating a little obsessiveness on the part of McLaren’s engineers in terms of lowering both length and mass to compensate for having to package a lithium-ion battery pack. The V6 is approximately 8 inches (200 mm) shorter than the V8 from McLaren. Obviously, some of this is due to each bank having one fewer cylinder.
However, the cylinders have a smaller bore (3.5 inches/84 mm) than the V8, and McLaren direct-cast the cylinders into the block (rather than using wet liners), resulting in less room between them.
Keeping the engine cool was probably a headache for McLaren’s engineers. In addition to the two exhausts at the back, there’s a chimney-like structure right above the engine that allows the air pumped into the engine compartment to cool the turbochargers (after departing the Artura’s high-temperature radiators) to leave.
Supercars are frequently photographed on a deserted yet picturesque road or possibly smoking a tire at a private race track in the manufacturer’s press photographs. But many supercars spend much of their time in town, cruising from gorgeous area to glamorous neighborhood in search of parking spots for a legion of young YouTubers.
However, in places like London’s Knightsbridge, the writing is on the wall for idling internal combustion engines. As a result, McLaren designed the Artura as a hybrid vehicle.
It isn’t the company’s first hybrid road car; that distinction belongs to the insane P1. Unlike the P1, the Artura is a plug-in hybrid that can travel in entirely electric mode for short distances, though with only 94 horsepower (70 kW).
The electric motor is an axial flux design that produces 166 lb-ft (225 Nm) with a mass of 34 lbs (15.4 kg), a significant improvement over the P1’s motor, which produced 192 lb-ft (260 Nm) but weighed 84 lbs (38 kg). The total powertrain output is 671 horsepower (500 kW) and 531 pound-feet of torque (720 Nm).
The disc-shaped motor is mounted directly on the input shaft inside the clutch housing between the engine and transmission. The battery pack is placed to the underside of the car’s carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, forward of the engine compartment.
This keeps it safe in the case of a collision while also putting it in the best position for weight distribution and the Artura’s center of gravity. The battery pack has a capacity of 7.4 kWh, and McLaren claims that charging it to 80% capacity with a 240 V charger takes 2.5 hours.
According to McLaren, most city driving in the Artura will be done on electric power in Comfort mode, with the V6 firing up at roughly 37 mph (60 km/h). The electric motor’s maximum speed is 81 mph (130 km/h), and McLaren expects an electric-only range of around 19 miles (30 kilometers) under the WLTP system.