The McLaren Artura is an exceptional feat of automotive engineering, featuring a plug-in hybrid powertrain, with an “inside-out” electric motor, no reverse gear, and blah blah blah. More importantly: It has little hand pods staring you down like an alien.
What you’re looking at are the controls for the car’s transmission and suspension, as McLaren notes in its press release:
Every McLaren cockpit is built around the driver, but the Artura brings a new level of meaning to that principle. This is achieved by mounting the Digital Instrument Cluster to the steering column, so it moves in conjunction with the steering wheel. As a driver adjusts the column to their preferred position, perfect visibility of the instrumentation is maintained - and better still, the rocker switches for the Powertrain and Handling modes are at their fingertips, being mounted either side of the binnacle.
I guess what this means practically is that you can change the dampers and go into manual mode without taking your hands off the wheel. Maybe you are charging down a perfectly smooth piece of desert highway only to see the state line approaching with rough, chunky asphalt starting right at the border. Now you can click into some softer setting without missing a beat, I guess. That’s the only time I could think of this being particularly handy. Maybe some track rat could explain how you might want stiff shocks on one part of a circuit and soft ones in another corner. I’m no expert!
I can, at least, say that McLaren is far from the first manufacturer to mount a bunch of controls on either side of the instrument cluster. Citroëns of the ’70s and ’80s are particular favorites of mine in this regard. Look at all of the little controls poking out like Shrek ears in this CX:
The Subaru XT of the mid-’80s also comes to mind:
Hell, even the Toyota AE86 had some basic controls up by the side of the gauges:
Particularly nice about the Artura is that the full instrument cluster is mounted on the steering column. It’s nice that no matter how you like to have your steering wheel positioned (in my lap ready to gut-punch me with an airbag, in my case) you will still see these little alien hands reaching back at you.