since mclaren dipped its toe in the production-car pool with the mp4-12c in 2011, nearly every other model it has launched has been built on, or has been an evolution of, the same basic architecture. sure, some of those tubs have been called monocell and others monocage; some have had 3.8-liter v-8s and others 4.0-liter v-8s, and two were hybrids.
but not until now has mclaren undertaken a bigger automotive task than it has with launching the 2022 artura, which effectively replaces the 570s at the bottom of mclaren’s hierarchy. there is a whole lot to unpack, but understand that the artura features an all-new engine, a new transmission, a new carbon-fiber tub built in a new mclaren-owned factory, a new electrical architecture, and a new hybrid motor.
everyone loves a v-8, but between the mercedes-amg one, maserati mc20, and now the artura, the blown v-6 may just be the supercar engine design of the future. besides, six-pot or eight, no one is arguing with 577 horsepower at 7500 rpm and 431 pound-feet of torque between 2250 and 7000 rpm. but unlike all other v-6s ever put in a production car, the artura’s m630 3.0-liter v-6 features a 120-degree bank angle. mclaren chose this obtuse angle because it allows the engine to achieve even firing without splitting the crank journals. this results in a shorter and stiffer engine capable of spinning to 8500 rpm. compared to the outgoing v-8, the stroke (90 millimeters) is longer and the bore (83 mm) is narrower, resulting in a swap from oversquare to undersquare. spacing between the cylinders is as tight as 7 mm, a tiny dimension made possible by casting cores of sand by 3d printers.
the wide valley provides the bedrock for the exhaust manifolds and twin turbochargers, arranged in a hot-vee configuration. this design, which breaks convention and puts the exhaust valves inside the valley created by two banks of cylinders, isn’t very popular for mid-engine applications because it is more difficult to keep components cool, but mclaren's solution seals the turbos and manifolds in a chimney of sorts, and it's insulated from the rest of the engine bay. airflow coming off the backside of the radiators, which are fed by the large side scoops, flows over the turbos and up the exhaust-looking pipe on the top of the engine cover.
the kneejerk reaction to a 120-degree vee should be, "how does it fit?" but when taken as a whole, including the exhaust and turbochargers, the v-6's length is 7.5 inches shorter, height is 1.6 inches lower, and the width a substantial 8.7 inches narrower. richard jackson, the head of powertrain at mclaren, calls m630 “a very dense cube of an engine.” we agree.
more new is a plug-in-hybrid system that contributes up to 96 horses and 166 pound-feet to the mix. unlike mclaren’s previous hybrids, the p1 and speedtail, the artura’s ac motor is integrated with the new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. the axial-flux motor is more power dense than the more common radial-flux machine for several reasons, but most notable (and easiest to understand) is that the magnets are placed farther from the rotating axis, creating a longer lever. all reversing is handled exclusively by spinning the motor backward, no reverse gear in the trans. j-turn enthusiasts looking for eight reverse gears should note that 25 mph is the fastest it will go in reverse.
a modest-size 7.4-kwh lithium-ion battery feeds the motor and should provide about 15 miles of ev range on the epa scale. the battery lives on the floor at the rear of the cabin, which contributes to a low center of gravity, and the plate that holds and protects the battery increases structural stiffness and strength. mclaren says the hybrid system in its entirety adds just 287 pounds to the artura. the new v-6, at 353 pounds, is 110 pounds lighter than the older v-8. a net gain of 177 pounds isn't too bad considering the added capability.
interestingly enough, the artura's wheelbase, at 103.9 inches, is 1.2 inches shorter than the 570s's (and pretty much all other mclarens). shrinking wheelbases is the kind of downsizing car and driver endorses as it generally improves nimbleness. also helping the artura turn and get out of corners with as much gusto as possible is an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential.
the hybrid powertrain mounts to an aluminum substructure at the rear of a new carbon-fiber tub made by mclaren that it calls mcla, for mclaren carbon lightweight architecture. but mcla isn’t just the tub; it also includes the aluminum crash structure at the front of the car and a new ethernet-based electrical architecture. the ethernet electrical saves weight while increasing bandwidth and enabling over-the-air updates.
a lack of sexiness in ethernet-based electrical is made up with the exterior. it's composed of superformed aluminum and carbon-fiber panels. buttresses help guide air past the chimney to even better vacate the heat. there's no big wing, but downforce is made with a full-width diffuser. remember, this isn't the track star. surely an lt derivative with a wing suited for a plane is in the works. the suspension utilizes control arms at the front and a multilink arrangement at the rear as well as adaptive dampers, coil springs, and anti-roll bars.
the artura is also the first mclaren to offer some advanced driver-assistance systems including adaptive cruise control, road-sign recognition, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beams. what you don't see on that list is any kind of assisted steering, in part because the car isn't capable of steering itself. mclaren engineering prowess isn't lacking. it made the decision to continue using an electrohydraulically assisted steering system to maintain the fidelity its cars communicate. if it ever wanted one of its cars to park itself or stay in a lane, mclaren would have to switch to an electrically assisted steering rack. and that would likely switch off some of its customers.