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New McLaren Artura Spider review: roofless hybrid supercar shows the brand at its best

McLaren’s unique approach to open-top supercars has never been better executed than in the new Artura Spider

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

The McLaren Artura Spider is a more desirable small hybrid supercar than the coupe, and a major improvement all-round due to a collection of changes across the board. The Artura Spider’s elements come together beautifully in an engaging, fast and charismatic package, one that feels distinctly McLaren and delivers tangible benefits with its new-age hybrid powertrain.

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The Artura was meant to be a new era for McLaren. New engine, new hybrid powertrain assistance and a heightened focus on quality, reliability and desirability. Yet as with any revolutionary exercise the coupe had its fair share of problems, issues that this Spider version might just have worked its way around.

That’s because the Spider doesn’t just introduce a new open-top layout for the Artura, but also a fundamental update featuring refinements across the board - and even a little more power. In a change applied from 2024 to both coupe and Spider, the Artura’s peak power has gone up 20bhp to create a total of 690bhp derived from the combined efforts of the V6 engine and its hybrid module. 

The engine itself is McLaren’s bespoke twin-turbocharged 120-degree, 3.0-litre unit, optimised from the ground up to integrate a hybrid system. Peak torque is unchanged at 720Nm, 585Nm of that coming directly from the engine, and the whole shebang has been re-tuned to deliver a more linear rush towards the red line. There’s also a new exhaust system with a resonator to let more noise into the cabin, and the gearbox has been tweaked with 25 per cent faster shifts. 

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Performance times are identical between the updated Spider and coupe, both reaching 62mph in 3.0 seconds and topping out at 205mph. These figures create a set of supercar stats that, by design, sit somewhere south of more expensive rivals from Ferrari and Lamborghini

There have been further tweaks to the chassis, with new engine mounts, updated suspension hardware and software, new dampers and improved brake cooling. Of course, the change from coupe to open-top Spider has seen a small 62kg weight increase, but as is always the case with McLaren’s open-top models, the carbon fibre chassis’ means that no extra body strengthening has been required. Instead, that weight gain is purely down to the extra motors of the roof mechanism,  that can raise or lower the canopy in 11 seconds. 

Where the McLaren Artura coupe could be seen as a little visually underwhelming by supercar standards, the extra drama of the Spider’s clever roof mechanism and those glazed buttresses definitely helps bring some added presence to the design.

When you’re installed into the clean and compact cabin, the Artura feels very much like a McLaren in the best possible way. The seating position is almost perfect, with a low scuttle and a thin-rimmed, unadorned steering wheel right at your chest. The pedals are not quite so aggressively set to the right as in previous McLaren models – an layout that encouraged left-foot braking. This car’s ergonomic excellence extends to the user interface, too. McLaren’s latest controls for the chassis and powertrain modes are binnacle-mounted toggles and you will find yourself flicking constantly.

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Being a hybrid, the McLaren’s default startup mode is a full-electric drive mode, which will get you anywhere between 10 and 15 miles of all-electric range, depending on your speed. Far from being an annoyance, the ability to slip through built-up areas silently and serenely is brilliant, and makes the notion of driving a convertible McLaren feel that much more palatable for the slightly introverted supercar driver. 

At these speeds the steering is a touch heavy, but here McLaren’s other defining factor comes into play, the wonderfully accurate and feelsome hydraulically-assisted steering. On the move it does lighten up, of course, and this is when you’re reminded of what truly interactive steering is. It’s something that no supercar rival can really get close to, whether there be a horse, bull or trident on the nose. 

Flick through into the more aggressive drive models on the left-hand ‘powertrain’ toggle and the petrol engine will blat into life, the V6 feeling a little richer and more exotic than it did previously on account of that new exhaust. Now you can start to use the performance of the Artura, putting load into the chassis where you notice the superb ride and control from the retuned suspension.

It doesn’t take long to drop the roof, and when you do there’s almost no perceptible change to the way the Artura drives. There is the merest hint of kickback through the steering wheel on account of its hydraulic assistance, but this is not due to any lack of structural integrity. 

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Driven at eight-tenths on twisting roads, the Artura feels predictable, reassuring and totally composed. The steering grabs and holds your attention as you grow in confidence and begin to exploit the powertrain. No, this hybrid V6 isn’t as charismatic as Ferrari’s unit in the 296, but a McLaren’s character has never really been built around its powertrain’s charisma. 

Instead, you are just encouraged to use the powertrain and all the performance it’s able to muster in the most efficient way possible. The Artura’s V6 feels almost supernaturally strong, with a wonderful linear build up to the red-line and superb throttle response. The exhaust system does try to augment the experience with the occasional gargle or splutter, but in reality it’s the turbo-whistle, together with the high-pitched whines from the electric motor and its adjoining components, that define the powertrain’s soundtrack. 

In typical fashion, the dual-clutch SSG transmission is a willing and able partner, the electric motor doing its bit to smooth out operations at low speeds while in-filling torque during hard upshifts. It’s just as good going down the gears, too, operated by a wonderful set of solid metal paddles on a McLaren-standard rocker to the rear of the steering wheel. 

When you start to really push the McLaren Artura, something is different to McLarens that have gone before. Thanks to the use of a locking differential, and continual improvement to McLaren’s clever Mono-Cell chassis, the Artura Spider doesn’t feel intimidating or unhinged at the edge. Where some V8-powered McLarens could feel a little too intense due to their open-differentials and extreme turbo-rush top-ends, the Artura is much more of a team player, and less like a car which only Lando or Oscar could get the most out of. 

Model:McLaren Artura Spider
Price:£221,500
Engine:3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol, 1 x e-motor
Power/torque:690bhp/720Nm
Transmission:Eight-speed dual-clutch, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph:3.0 seconds
Top speed:205mph
MPG/CO2:58.9mpg/108g/km
On sale:Now
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Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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