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The 2023 McLaren Artura.Matt Bubbers/The Globe and Mail

A blood-red supercar like this new McLaren Artura is intended to make hearts beat faster and elicit such a magnetic, unstoppable pull on drivers that it makes otherwise reasonable people desperate to part with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Supercars are supposed to make every nerve in your body go all tingly. They’re impractical and frivolous, nobody would argue otherwise, but they’re also marvels of engineering and a treasure trove of geeky mechanical details that car enthusiasts love to obsess over.

Supercars exist only as a fantasy to most admirers of the form, but in order to keep the fantasy alive, a supercar must live up to that high bar.

The McLaren 675LT, the jaw-dropping 720S and even the now-discontinued “affordable” McLaren – the $200,000 570S – more than lived up to it. (For years the 720 was my go-to recommendation for anyone wanting a hair-raising supercar.)

The new McLaren Artura, however, I’m not so sure about. It is McLaren Automotive’s first plug-in hybrid – apart from the limited-production P1 – and every bit as technically impressive as you’d expect from a company spun off from a Formula 1 team. It qualifies for a Green Vehicle licence plate here in Ontario, but does it make the hearts of car enthusiasts beat faster?

This is the newest new McLaren since the 2012 MP4-12C, the car that relaunched the brand. The Artura costs $276,900 in Canada, a price at which not even Ferrari or Lamborghini can sell you a car with full carbon-fibre tub construction. The Artura’s carbon core is all new, and made in-house in England. The brand’s usual twin-turbo V8 is gone, replaced by a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 mated to an axial-flux electric motor sandwiched between the engine and eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox. That’s one more gear than was on the old seven-speed unit, and – here’s a good geeky detail – there’s no need for a reverse gear because backing up is powered by the electric motor spinning in the opposite direction.

Getting into the driver’s seat is not easy. The small opening and upswinging door invites jumping in with a kind of flying kick that Bruce Lee might recognize (although, not when I do it). So far, so good then – for a supercar.

A mysterious, red-glowing glass button starts the car. Push it and there’s silence. The Artura pulls away in EV mode. The car showed a useful 28 kilometres of electric-only range on a full battery, with temperatures hovering around freezing.

Full disclosure: I haven’t driven it on a racetrack, only public roads, so this is only half of the Artura story. But, on the road, for all its technology and that unmistakable supercar silhouette, the Artura feels weirdly … normal.

The hydraulically power-assisted steering seems to have lost some of the manic, fidgety feedback of the 720 and 570. The new car is extremely sharp and responsive, but the steering doesn’t feel as connected to the road as its forebears. The ride is comfortable by supercar standards (despite the lack of the 720′s brilliant hydraulic anti-roll system). The noise from the V6 is cultured and refined, if not quite spine-tingling.

The electric motor’s 94 horsepower kicks in instantly, covering the lull before the turbo boost hits, with the electric power fading perfectly into the 577-horsepower combustion engine’s power band. There’s more than enough juice here to send the rear tires sliding if provoked, but it never feels as playful as the old McLaren 570; that car was a rocket-propelled go-kart.

And then there’s the way the Artura looks. It’s not bad, but not gorgeous nor hide-your-children vulgar. Where Ferrari’s 296 GTB hybrid puts its V6 engine under a jewel-box glass lid, McLaren hides the Artura’s engine under a non-opening metal grate.

The style, the sound and the general lack of supercar-level drama are all highly subjective issues. The car is technically brilliant but, on the road, it didn’t quite get my heart racing and eyes bulging like a great supercar should.

It’s especially unfortunate because McLaren Automotive has hit a rough patch over the past few years. There was Brexit, and then the pandemic, and then the chip-supply shortages that delayed the Artura’s launch.

These issues seem to have hit McLaren especially hard. The boutique automaker sold 4,660 cars in 2019, but just 1,570 through the first three quarters of 2023. It sold and leased back its headquarters in England to raise cash in 2021, and this year shareholders have had to infuse £450-million ($760-million) of new equity.

Roger Ormisher, McLaren’s vice-president of communications, wrote in an email, “With the effects of the pandemic and semiconductor supply issues behind us, our focus in on the future – for Artura, the new 750S and other McLarens to come.”

It took a few years for McLaren to really ignite the fireworks drivers expected from the brand when it relaunched with the 12C. The Artura is another huge technical leap, and I have no doubt they’ll turn this new plug-in hybrid platform into something that makes a rational person want to remortgage their house. Eventually.

Tech specs

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The charging port on the 2023 McLaren Artura, which has an all-electric range of 28 kilometres.Matt Bubbers/The Globe and Mail

2023 McLaren Artura

  • Base price/as tested: $276,900/$351,018
  • Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6, plug-in hybrid
  • Transmission/drive: Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic/rear-wheel drive
  • Fuel consumption (litres/100 kilometres): Officially, 4.6 combined city and highway/14.5 during test drive
  • Alternatives: Ferrari 296 GTB, a used McLaren 720S, Lamborghini Huracan Evo (discontinued), Porsche 911 GT3


Impressively tiny. Porsche 718-sized, but packing a full-carbon tub and V6 hybrid engine.


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The Atura's instrument panel moves with the steering wheel adjustment, so there’s always a clear view of the dials.Matt Bubbers/The Globe and Mail

Cozy. The driver’s feet are offset to the right, making way for the front wheel. The instrument panel moves with the steering wheel adjustment, so there’s always a clear view of the dials.


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The Atura has 671 horsepower in total, significantly less than the pricier Ferrari 296 GTB.Matt Bubbers/The Globe and Mail

There’s no reason to miss the two extra cylinders of McLaren’s V8. The Artura makes 671 horsepower in total, significantly less than the (pricier) Ferrari 296 GTB. The Brit isn’t quite as quick either, hitting 100 kilometres an hour in three seconds, and 200 in 8.3.


Similar to the Tesla Cybertruck, the McLaren ditches a conventional wiring harness in favour of ethernet cables, thereby reducing the total amount of wiring needed and speeding up data transmission. In a rare victory for a small automaker, the in-car screen and software work well. There’s a physical volume knob and a handy “home” button on the infotainment system.


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The Atura is impressively tiny, being Porsche 718-sized, but packing a full-carbon tub and V6 hybrid engine.Matt Bubbers/The Globe and Mail

There’s a front trunk, but pack lightly.

The verdict

Impressive engineering, lacking in supercar pizzazz.

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