Car review: Morgan Plus Six
PUBLISHED: 06:03 29 May 2020
The Morgan Plus Six is a glorious salute to the past, but it’s also the most technologically advanced car in the company’s 110-year history
Big changes don’t come along very often at the Morgan Motor Company. Step into the wonderfully charismatic workshops of its Malvern base and you’ll find cars being built in much the same way as they were in the 1930s. The smell of fresh timber still wafts through the air, along with the sound of hammers beating aluminium panels into shape.
All is not quite as it appears, however. The traditional steel chassis that underpinned most of the Morgan range for an incredible 84 years is finally bowing out. The Morgan Plus Six that you see here is the first model to use an all-new bonded aluminium chassis that will soon form the basis of the entire range. Not only that, but there’s a thoroughly-modern turbocharged engine from BMW and an 8-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
Don’t think for one moment that Morgan has abandoned its roots, though. The Plus Six is still almost entirely handmade, with its unmistakable silhouette formed from traditional aluminium panels draped over an ash frame.
ON THE ROAD
You sit low down in the Plus Six, with that elegantly sculpted bonnet stretching off into the distance. Prod the starter button and the 3-litre straight six fires up with a suitably purposeful growl. Take your foot off the brake and it creeps gently forward, while the power assisted steering proves light and precise.
You could cruise around in the Plus Six all day, never needing to use more than a fraction of its performance. The ride is reasonably supple, the seating position is good and the engine’s vast reserves of torque allow you to make very relaxed progress.
But there’s another side to the Plus Six. Unleash the full 340PS and it will keep up with all but the fastest modern sports cars, dispatching the 0 to 62mph sprint in just 4.2 seconds. Driven with discretion, it offers surefooted, vice-free handling. Provoke it and you’re on your own. There’s no traction control or stability control here, but it’s an experience to be savoured rather than feared, with a benign, adjustable balance.
The cabin design is neat and simple. Almost everything that you see and touch has been handcrafted by the Malvern company, although there are some exceptions. The BMW-sourced gear selector looks a little out of place in the art deco cabin, as do the plastic gearshift paddles, which don’t offer quite the tactility that you might expect. Overall, though, there’s a pleasing feeling of quality.
Luggage space is limited to a small parcel shelf behind the seats, although you can get a rear luggage rack, which works brilliantly with the Morgan aesthetic. Another slightly idiosyncratic feature is the hood; it’s relatively easy to put up by classic car standards, but its poppers and catches are a world away from the convenience of a modern electrically-operated roof.
Morgan has pulled off an impressive feat with the Plus Six. It feels modern and well-engineered in its execution, yet it delivers a raw and unapologetically nostalgic driving experience. Don’t forget your goggles and scarf.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Morgan Plus Six Touring £89,995 (range from £81,995)
Engine: 2,998cc, 340PS, inline-6 petrol engine with 8-speed automatic transmission
Performance: 0 to 62mph in 4.2 seconds; top speed 166mph
Fuel economy: 34mpg
CO2 emissions: 180g/km