Here is the exclusive design story of the McLaren Artura Hybrid Supercar

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Artura’s design is informed by the process. McLaren’s first serial production performance plug-in hybrid continues the brand’s quest to explore the most advanced engineering solutions and work with the strongest and lightest materials, while refining the shape for optimal aerodynamics with the ultimate goal of achieving peak performance and driver. commitment.

“Our mission was to create the most agile, dynamic, engaging and capable hybrid on the market and that meant saving weight,” McLaren design director Rob Melville tells me as I take a virtual tour of the Artura. . “From a design perspective, it was about integrating as much as we could to create a clean, pure piece of technical sculpture that showcases the technology without distracting the driver.

The design here supports the engineering philosophy of weight loss – such as shedding pounds and pounds where possible to improve efficiency and performance. Melville admits his team had to be very relentless to make up for the extra bulk of the hybrid powertrain electric motor and battery. “For McLaren it’s always about airflow – showcasing the aero technology, showing the shrink films, the layering to show how compact and dense the car is.”

The Artura is built on a new lightweight McLaren Carbon Fiber (MCLA) architecture and introduces a high-performance V6 hybrid powertrain. Of course, for a McLaren, the performance is impressive. The 2,993cc twin-turbo V6 petrol engine delivers an output of 585hp and torque of 585Nm. While the small axial flow electric motor generates 95ps and 225Nm as this supercar reaches 62mph from l shutdown in just three seconds.

I ask Melville what the design challenges were in reaching these numbers. “The challenge was that a lot of the car is new,” he replies, “like the monocoque and the powertrain, which meant the aerodynamics and air heat had to be perfect due to the temperatures. high motor. Then we had to put all of those elements together and design a car with pure aesthetics with very high levels of workmanship and craftsmanship inside and out.

Melville and his creative team worked under three key words: purity, technical sculpture and functional jewelry. He explains, “Purity is not just the purity of the line, but the purity in the integration of the components which results in a lighter overall design through weight saving. This approach also leads to cleaner design, better craftsmanship and better execution.

He then disentangles the second phase, technical sculpture. “When I present this concept to my team, I have sand dunes in the background sculpted by wind and air. Like the shapes you see in nature, the elements must be beautiful to look at, but be there for a reason. Our cars have technical sculptures, ”he says. “The third pillar, functional jewelry, is best explained by the fact that we do not decorate. Instead, the engineered elements provide aesthetic accents.

From the front, the McLaren’s classic hammer line runs through the front, dissecting airflow to the radiators or over the hood, leading the eye to the deeply recessed headlights. The side air intakes are wide, the nose powerful and the rear hips shapely. The general idea, says Melville, is for the car to look a little threatening in order to appear both beautiful and aggressive.

The body surfaces are clean and clear to highlight the drama of the air intakes deeply cut into the nose and doors. The roof is a one-piece aluminum structure just like the rear shell. The reduced bodywork contrasts with theatrical dihedral aluminum doors that sweep outward and upward at the hinge.

Nothing is unnecessary in the McLaren design. This is one of its main charms. Here too, each element, even the exterior mirrors, has a role to play: managing the air flow, cooling the radiators, optimizing downforce. Melville points out to me the ventilated louvers on the front fenders of his computer screen, which are precisely shaped to reduce pressure in the wheel arches and keep dirty air away from the side air intakes, while the air pure is guided into these sockets via a complex aerodynamic path involving sculpted door channels.

The interior design followed a similar creative process to that of the exterior. One thing that remains constant is that every McLaren cockpit is built around the driver. In the Artura, the digital instrument cluster is mounted directly on the steering column so that they always move together for a perfect view of the driver on the instrumentation. Switches for the powertrain and drive modes are placed within easy reach of either side of the driver’s fingertips, while additional controls are placed near, rather than on the steering wheel, to reduce distraction while driving . “You’re focused, your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and that frees up space in the center console,” says Melville. “The design team had an idea a few years ago, engineering listened to it and made it happen. It’s a great example of how McLaren works, ”he smiles.

There are other smart design solutions that occur in the Artura. Developed by the Ergonomics team, the Clubsport unibody seat is agile – 9.5 kg lighter than a regular sports car seat – while providing the same support as the bucket seat conventionally used in sports cars. It also offers the range of motion you see in a seat with a movable backrest, while the wide, padded top provides equal support for thin riders and broad shoulders.

The history of leather is also interesting. Melville explains, “Jo Lewis (responsible for color and material design) worked with our supplier Bridge of Weir to create a leather of the same thickness, feel and quality as our regular material, but the back ventilation reduces the weight by a couple of kilograms, while maintaining the nice soft feeling that the customer expects from our cars.

The Artura is available to order for deliveries later this year. It represents the beginning of a movement towards the electrification of the McLaren range. Last year, when I met company CEO Mike Flewitt, he teased this car, adding, “Gradually, by 2023, pretty much everything we launch will be hybrid-powered in the aim to have a fully hybrid range by the end of 2025. “

The Artura is a very successful product and I can’t help but think about how each McLaren car seems to rival its predecessor in terms of efficiency and performance. “The Artura represents a very big step forward in terms of maturation,” says Melville. “I think it’s a really solid piece of design and engineering.”

See my interview with McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt as he talks about the company’s mission to create the most advanced hybrid and later electric supercars

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