McLaren Refreshes the Hybrid-Electric Artura and Drops the Top

McLaren found ways to make small improvements to seemingly every system on Artura Spider.

Dan Carney, Senior Editor

July 2, 2024

6 Min Read
The McLaren Artura Spider.
The McLaren Artura Spider.McLaren Automotive

At a Glance

  • 690 horsepower
  • $283,200
  • Roof folds in 11 seconds while driving as fast as 30 mph

If it seems like McLaren only just introduced the hybrid-electric, twin-turbocharged V6-powered Artura as the sports car brand’s entry-level model, you’re right: we tested the new car in December 2022.

But in today’s competitive market, if you aren’t moving forward you are falling behind, so with that in mind, McLaren has already developed a roster of upgrades for the Artura, and the introduction of the open-roof folding hardtop convertible version seemed like the perfect time to roll out those changes.

The closed-roof coupe models get the new Artura updates too. And in a boon to existing customers, the extra 19 horsepower released from the V6 engine have all been corralled through software, so existing cars can get the software update for a retroactive power-up.

Total output of the innovative 120-degree V6 and the axial-flux electric motor is now 690 horsepower, while peak torque is unchanged at 531-lb.-ft.

Cruising through urban areas on silent-running electric power with the top down proved to be a blissful experience, especially while touring villages in the South of France and acknowledging the excited smiles and waves of locals. Maybe they were smiling because, for once, a supercar wasn’t deafening them with the roar of its combustion engine.

Related:McLaren Launches its Next Generation of Supercars with the Artura

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Out in switchbacks of the Alps-Maritimes, when the V6 was running, improvements to the Artura’s exhaust system boost the quality of sound when the engine is revving near its redline. At part throttle, in gentler driving conditions, the V6 still struggles to produce an inspiring soundtrack. Such is the cost of the shift to smaller combustion engines with fewer cylinders.

To and from the coast in the Cote d’Azure, up and down the mountains, changing weather demanded changing the position of the Artura’s roof, showcasing its ability to raise or lower while driving as fast as 30 mph and completing the operation in just 11 seconds.

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Some folding hardtop convertibles demonstrate a noticeable increase in structural rigidity with the roof closed, providing a smoother ride with fewer shimmies. But McLaren says that the Artura’s carbon fiber tub, the company’s second-generation design that is dubbed the McLaren Lightweight Architecture, is claimed to be equally strong with or without the roof in place. Certainly, the seat-of-the-pants meter could discern no obvious difference, which is not typically the case with hardtop convertibles.

That hardtop contains an electrochromatic skylight that switches between clear and a dim mode that blocks 99 percent of sunlight and 96 percent of solar energy, so even with the roof up, occupants can enjoy the airiness of a sunlight cabin.

Related:Testing the 656-Horsepower, 202-mph 2025 Aston Martin Vantage

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While the roof basks in the spotlight of attention, there are plenty more technical details improved by McLaren’s engineers that are less obvious. The 8-speed dual-clutch transmission gets 25 percent quicker gearchanges thanks to refinement to the way the two clutches hand off power flow between them with what the company calls “pre-fill.”

Now, when the computer senses that circumstances suggest a shift is imminent, it brings the disengaged clutch with the next gear at the ready right to what McLaren global director of product planning Jamie Corstorphine terms “the kissing point” on the verge of engagement so when the driver squeezes the shift paddle to request the shift there is less time lost in moving the clutch parts.

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Another change to the clutch enables what McLaren calls “a spinning-wheel pullaway,” and the rest of us call a burnout. The LT and 750S models have had this feature in the past, but now Artura drivers will be able to deliver this bit of theater to bystanders if they choose. “This give the driver the ability to dial up some revs, shut the clutch abruptly, spin the wheels – a load of smoke,” said Corstorphine. “It is really a burnout mode.” Of course, the launch mode for maximum acceleration is also still available for times when the driver seeks “go,” rather than “show.”

Related:The Stunning Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible is the Definition of Beauty

On the electronics side, the Artura employs a zonal architecture with domain controllers in each corner of the car communicating over an ethernet network, eliminating wiring and reducing weight. The ability to upgrade the car’s shock absorbers is due in part to the electrical architecture, which Corstorphine describes as having the surplus capacity to allow the computer to drive the dampers harder, for faster response.

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The Artura’s computer-controlled active damping shock absorbers are also upgraded as part of the refresh. You’ll recall at the entry-level Artura eschews the Tenneco-supplied Proactive Chassis Control cross-linked hydraulic system used on McLaren’s pricier models as well as on the Rivian R1 vehicles. In my original review, I cited the Artura’s harsh ride using these conventional shock absorbers.

McLaren engineers were well aware of the harsh ride, and their reprogramming lets these shocks anticipate bumps with “proactive damping.” The company claims a 90 percent faster response time for these new shock absorbers, and while that number is difficult to confirm from the driver’s seat, I can report that the Artura’s ride is now nearly as plush as that of McLaren’s other models and it retains the requisite crisp handling on mountain roads.

Additionally, the computer is able to monitor the Pirelli P Zero Cyber Tires selected by McLaren for the Artura. These tires incorporate internal sensors that let the driver adjust the tire’s air pressure limits to maximize performance. The Pirelli Noise Cancelling System uses sound deadening inside the tire to minimize tire and road noise, which is crucial in a vehicle that can drive for miles on electric power.

An electronic upgrade that would be appreciated by drivers using the car in urban areas would be easier control of the Artura’s parking cameras. Driving through stop-and-go traffic through Monaco city, the car was swarmed by pedestrians crossing at intersections and by scooter traffic squeezing past. This automatically triggers the parking cameras, which send their images to the center infotainment display screen.

When the driver is from another country and is headed to an unfamiliar destination through an urban area, they depend on route guidance from the navigation system. Suddenly losing that guidance because people got near the car while it was stopped in traffic is counter-productive. More familiarity with the Artura’s operational details would have made this less of a problem, but still, the car probably shouldn’t be denying a driver critical navigational information.

Ideally, such situations will be limited to the last-mile scenarios, as the Artura lucky owner approaches the destination at a luxury hotel or Michelin-starred restaurant. The rest of the time, they’ll enjoy the Artura Spider’s perfect combination of style, speed, and comfort on the open road. Pricing starts at $273,800, and the striking orange test car was $283,200.

About the Author(s)

Dan Carney

Senior Editor, Design News

Dan’s coverage of the auto industry over three decades has taken him to the racetracks, automotive engineering centers, vehicle simulators, wind tunnels, and crash-test labs of the world.

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