24 Aug

Morgan Plus Six vs. Jaguar F-Type P380 (pistonheads.com)

Two brand-new six-cylinder British sports cars done differently. But which is more fun?

[Now that the press have been able to get their hands on the car, they are doing their best to report. And, I want to be sure you see what the world is saying about this new ‘Morgan.’ I still have no idea if or when we might get these cars in the US, so . . . for now, we have to be satisfied with pictures and words. Enjoy Mark]


Is there a valid twin test for a Morgan? There’s an argument to say that no, of course there isn’t, because if you want a Morgan then only a Morgan will do. But the Plus Six is no ordinary Malvern-built sports car; it’s using the first new platform for almost 20 years, it’s the first post-V8 Morgan, and it’s the first Morgan that won’t have a manual gearbox. Therefore it’s pretty big news. We’ve already established that the Six is borderline revelatory for Morgan, and there’s no better way to truly quantify an achievement than measuring it against a rival.

The F-Type makes more sense here than you might think. Beyond being separated by just three cubic centimetres in their forced induction, 3.0-litre six-cylinder engines, both Jaguar and Morgan use the same ZF automatic gearbox with different settings for shift speed, throttle response and so on. As tested, this F-Type is £79,650; the Plus Six now available to customers (the First Edition seen here is sold out) costs £77,995.

More than that, there’s an ideological examination to conduct here. Because the F-Type, despite piecemeal updates, is a fairly old car now. You could buy a 380hp, automatic V6 Roadster like this one back in 2013, which seems ages ago. So long ago, in fact, that its rivals have disappeared: the 911 is now a £100k car, a Boxster no longer has a six-cylinder engine, the AMG SLK has gone, the Lotus Exige has only gotten more hardcore since the introduction of the Roadster – and so on. To some extent it’s become the modern classic option in its own lifetime; not perfect, though hugely charming and very easy to like, thanks mostly to its styling and quite old-school engine. With the Morgan’s appearing even more emotive, and its architecture actually more modern, could it be a better take on the traditional British roadster appeal?

On the journey to Malvern, the F-Type – unsurprisingly – is entirely pleasant company. Roof up it plays the subdued, mature GT for as long as is required; with the roof down and the right buttons pressed, it’s immediately a louder, more visceral drop-top experience. That it drives how it always sort of has is no bad thing, either: Jag has a rare knack for tuning dampers, steering and control weights, with all present and correct in this middle of the range F-Type. It’s just a really nice sports car, an intriguing riposte to those who see the German equivalent as a bit sterile – even if the suspicion is that nice might not cut it for £80k.

Of course, on arrival at Morgan, it’s the Jag which is made to seem sterile, generic and overwrought. The F-Type is unquestionably a handsome sports car, in a way which could probably be called timeless, but there’s nothing like a Morgan for seizing your attention. The Plus Six almost seems like a restomod for its maker – dropping modern and familiar running gear in a body that looks near-identical – though it’s so much more than that. The clever bit is in appearing traditional for those who want it, with a more modern stance readily apparent to those in the know.

The mix of current day and timeless continues on the road, too. This is now a car that taller buyers can fit in, that requires little more effort to mooch around in than a Z4 and which can deal with imperfections in the road without wilting under the effort. The claim for a 100 per cent improvement in torsional rigidity from the CX platform sounds eminently believable, even at slow speed. The Plus Six still feels very much like a Morgan, however, with that evocative view out over the bonnet, a dashboard like no other and the sense of rather more wind in the hair than usual thanks to a perched driving position.

So what of that new engine? A big V8, be that from Rover or BMW, has become a mainstay of the Morgan appeal for decades; they’re now gone for good, replaced by the B58 straight-six turbo that’s also found in the Toyota Supra. Here it benefits from Morgan’s own tune and an eight-speed gearbox, as well as performance claims of 4.2 seconds to 62mph and 166mph. Despite effortless ease of use, bountiful torque and better mpg than a 2.0-litre Plus 4, it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to see some die-hard fans not take to the six-cylinder. The rumble has gone, the immediacy of its throttle response is softened off and that endearing muscle car feel of an engine barely contained by a chassis has vanished. A pox on cohesive, thoroughly engineered sports cars, eh…

While the V8 is missed, the straight-six actually does an admirable job in pulling at heartstrings. The noise is more authentic than in a Supra, for starters – speakers can’t be manipulated if there are no speakers – with turbo whoosh overlaid by some straight-six howl. And by heck is it fast.

The F-Type never feels genuinely potent until it’s been made the recipient of its own V8 (where it thunders through that yardstick to become rabidly quick), meaning that the Morgan leaves the P380 V6 for dust here. Blame the weight advantage, the Morgan lugging around in the region of 400kg less with more torque; there’s just so little inertia, a trait of the light car/big engine blueprint that no level of technology can replicate (save perhaps electrification – and even that feels like a different kettle of fish). The Z4 and Supra are both brisk using this engine – the Morgan is properly fast, and just occasionally scarily so…

Perhaps the bigger surprise, though, is a Morgan made to seem capable of handling this sort of performance. No, it’s not a Boxster Spyder rival, scything through chicanes with a dab of oppo on exit. It still requires some thought and some planning, it still does wibble and wobble over poor surfaces and the front end is not the most immediate – but this is a world away from before. There’s traction and there’s grip, and finally there’s faith that what your feet and hands do will have a direct, predictable correlation to the car’s behaviour – not always guaranteed before. The Plus Six is a small, nimble car, and there’s little to beat zipping through country lanes in a Morgan that actually feels like it’s relishing the prospect. The electric steering has a more natural feel than a Supra’s, the brakes are strong and progressive (once through the dead travel) and there’s now sufficient body control and damping composure to enjoy a road rather than endure it. The gearbox is way sharper than the old BMW slusher, too, which would encourage use of the paddles, though they’re both too small and not nice to use, which is shame.

This quantum leap for Morgan ought to leave the F-Type feeling a little stagnant dynamically, but the fact is that the Jaguar did a damn good job out of the box. It isn’t the last word in any parameter, though arguably it doesn’t need to be; instead offering a balanced, rewarding, satisfying sports drive. Here, for instance, is a car with a Dynamic mode you might actually want to use and which does make the car feel more dynamic – tauter, more responsive, keener – rather than simply harder and worse. The subtlety in set up, including steering resistance that doesn’t assume unnecessary weight and damping that always retains some fluency, must be far more difficult to engineer in than simply cranking everything up to the max in hope of a ‘sportier’ feel. While the F-Type perception might be of a shouty and skiddy sports car – which it’s also more than capable of being – the Jaguar integrity and flow remain.

Which makes that weight penalty all the more frustrating. Because following Morgan with Jaguar, there’s no amount of class and capability that can undo the feeling of aloofness and detachment in the latter. And even when the summer turns sleety in Wales, the Morgan has traction and purchase, commodities that have previously been in short supply. Granted, the limits are ultimately lower (its rear Avons being the same width as the Jag’s front Pirellis) and trickier to approach given quite a short wheelbase. The Plus Six will spin its wheels in fourth gear, which is nothing if not a fitting repost to those who suggest a six-cylinder Morgan isn’t proper.

It is also, in the right situation – which includes moments in the real-world that don’t feature an empty Welsh B-road – tremendously entertaining. When it’s not the right situation and there’s a brand-new F-Type also trundling down a sodden motorway in rather more comfort, it’s less so. Because while bigger people do now fit, they’re still sat too high and with their feet cramped. While the roof makes some sense with practise, it’s still not suited to the actual requirements of a downpour. The engine is now quieter and more efficient at a cruise, though the driver is still bombarded with wind noise. Apparently the Plus Six is more suitable for cruising than any other previous Morgan; goodness knows what effort they must take.

Point is the Plus Six certainly retains some Morgan idiosyncrasies. Frustrations, for those feeling less kind. And the Jaguar, for all its apparent meekness in a direct comparison, requires far less compromise to deliver a genuine sports car experience. One that, despite advancing years – perhaps because of them, given the dearth of rivals – still has the charm to lure you in and the prowess to prove it’s more than superficial.

So what does all that mean for any kind of useful conclusion? The Morgan, after all, doesn’t even have a radio, leave alone sat-nav, CarPlay and a 10-inch touchscreen. The Jaguar, for all its pomp and ceremony, feels as mass produced as an XE diesel; both in its ease-of-use and its quite ordinary feel in comparison to Malvern’s best effort. They’re very different cars.

The Plus 6, though, is a watershed moment for Morgan and a mammoth achievement; it requires less compromise than any previous model while still delivering wholeheartedly on the pub-lunch-in-the-countryside charm that’s expected (or demanded) of a sports car from the Malvern hills. As a modern take on a much-loved formula that’s decades old, injecting usability without removing significant emotional appeal, it must be marked a resounding triumph.

It’s not as complete a sports car as the F-Type, which still retains a considerable talent for worming a way into your affections – though arguably it never had to be. This experience is worth the compromise; if an £80k sports car is being saved for high days and holidays, which is hopefully a fair assumption to make, then it should be a special one. For all the flaws and foibles, and despite the Jag’s enduring allure, it’s the Morgan that ticks the box most convincingly. For those who’ve lusted after one for years, there’s never been a more compelling reason to take your place on the waiting list.


SPECIFICATION – MORGAN PLUS SIX FIRST EDITION

Engine: 2,998cc straight-six, turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 335@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 369@N/Arpm
0-62mph: 4.2sec (claimed)
Top speed: 166mph
Weight: 1,075kg (dry)
MPG: 38.2 (NEDC)
CO2: 170g/km (NEDC)
Price: £89,995

SPECIFICATION – JAGUAR F-TYPE CONVERTIBLE R-DYNAMIC P380

Engine: 2,995cc, V6 supercharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 380@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 339@3,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.9secs
Top speed: 171mph
Weight: from 1,614kg 
MPG: 28.8
CO2: 223g/km

Price: £71,725 (as standard; price as tested £79,650 comprised of Madagascar Orange Ultra Metallic Paint for £3,500, Black Exterior Pack for £625, Ebony Suedecloth sunvisors with vanity mirrors, Ebony Suedecloth headlining for £580, 20-inch ‘Style 5042’ carbon fibre, Satin Grey and diamond turned wheels for £520, Climate Pack (two-zone climate control, heated windscreen, heated front seats and heated steering wheel) for £1,070, Front parking aid for £255, Rear view camera for £275 and Seat Memory Pack (auto-dimming, power fold, heated door mirrors with memory, electrically adjustable steering column with memory 12-way electric seats with driver and passenger memory) for £1,100

14 Aug

MORGAN MOTOR COMPANY DELIVER FIRST PRODUCTION CARS TO UK DEALERSHIP NETWORK (www.businessleader.co.uk – Aug 2019)

The Morgan Motor Company has delivered the first Plus Six production cars to its UK Dealership network at an official handover ceremony during the annual Morgan ‘Thrill On The Hill’ event at Prescott Speed Hill Climb in Gloucestershire.

The official handover, which took place on the hill itself during the lunchtime break, represented the first deliveries of the all-new Plus Six, which was announced at the Geneva Motor Show in March this year.

In total, 11 UK-based Morgan Dealerships were in attendance to take delivery of their new Plus Six models at Thrill On The Hill, from as far north as Perth in Scotland to as far south as Exeter in Devon.

The arrival of the new demonstrators offers an opportunity for customers to try the latest Morgan, and the company would like to invite anybody interested in experiencing the new Plus Six to contact their nearest Dealership. More than 150 Plus Six orders have now been placed, with customer deliveries expected to begin during the fourth quarter of 2019.

The Plus Six is an all-new car that celebrates Morgan’s distinctive design. It features a BMW three-litre inline six-cylinder turbocharged engine and is the first model to be built on the company’s new CX-Generation aluminium platform. Fewer than 1% of its parts are shared with other Morgan models.

Steve Morris, Morgan Motor Company CEO said: “We are delighted to witness the first Plus Six models being handed over to our UK Dealership network here at Thrill On The Hill 2019. The sight of all 11 Plus Six First Editions is one to behold, and this handover marks the culmination of years of hard work from our small team based in Malvern Link. I would like to thank all the staff at our factory, and our Morgan Dealerships in the UK and around the world, for their continued efforts in bringing Plus Six to market. We look forward to a bright future for this fantastic new Morgan.”

14 Aug

Morgan Plus Six (2019) review: the most well-rounded Mog yet (https://www.carmagazine.co.uk/ Jul 2019)

It’s an all-new Morgan!
Uses 335bhp BMW straight-six
Prices start from £77,995

This doesn’t happen too often: a brand-new Morgan sports car. And despite appearances, this really is a brand-new car beneath the familiarly-styled coachwork, on a fresh platform that will underpin further future Morgan models.

Yep, a straight-six does the donkey work here, and it’s got a real kick: BMW’s B58 engine also found in the Z4 M40i and Toyota Supra, among other berths.

The Plus Four is a four-cylinder, the Plus Eight was a V8, so this must be a six?

In this car its 335bhp feels more potent than ever. The Plus Six weighs 1075kg dry, and it can snort and snarl its way from 0-62mph in 4.2sec, quicker than the same-power BMW Z4 and even a smidge faster than the Toyota Supra, but it feels even quicker than that. Largely because you’re closer to the engine doing its work, hearing its turbo swooshing and smelling its exertion through the bonnet vents just ahead of you. Of the various cars the B58 engine powers, it feels at its most characterful in this car.

Sounds like it’s quite hairy to drive…

When you want it to be, but overall, it’s actually surprisingly refined and well-rounded – by low volume sports car standards, you understand.

The engine is coupled to the eight-speed ZF torque converter auto gearbox it’s also paired with in the Z4 and Supra. In its default mode it shifts smoothly and unobtrusively, changing up relatively early. Nudge the lever to the left for Sport mode and downshifts become more extravagant and upshifts later and swifter; more so still if you press the Sport Plus button on the centre console, which alters the throttle and gearshift maps but doesn’t muck about with the power steering or traction control. In fact, it doesn’t have the latter at all, which is absolutely fine by us. It does have ABS, however.

Wot, no manual?

It does feel odd to see that familiar BMW gear selector in the middle of the Plus Six’s hand-built cockpit, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that a H-pattern ’box would fit the car’s character more completely.

But the B58 engine and ZF auto transmission are very much an item, and separating the two isn’t straightforward. Morgan says that if a suitable manual gearbox were to become available, it would certainly consider offering a manual version in the future. Still, the pedals feel a tad offset, which might be exacerbated with the addition of a clutch pedal.

Regardless, the ZF ’box is easy-going in town and you can override it with manual shift paddles mounted to the steering column surround. Shame they’re plastic and rather ordinary-feeling, but manufacturing bespoke shifters would have inflated the Plus Six’s price accordingly.

Anyway, you were saying…

The Plus Six is the most undemanding Morgan to drive yet – which isn’t the same thing as saying it’s uninvolving.

It has electric power-assisted steering – Morgan’s own – which is remarkably stable on bumpy roads. There’s real stability either side of the straight-ahead, and the steering doesn’t paw at cambers or feel nervous at speed, which does wonders for fatigue on long journeys. It’s perhaps not the most feelsome setup in the world, and in some ways you might wish it actually did writhe around in your hands a bit more on B-roads, but for high-speed stability and carrying momentum on uneven roads, it’s impressively well-resolved.  

With all that torque on tap (369lb ft between 1600 and 4500rpm), the Plus Six tends to leave a light smear of its bespoke Avon tyres on the road in its wake under acceleration. We drove the Plus Six on a hot sunny day but you get the impression you’d have to be on your guard in the wet. It uses an open differential rather than a locking diff, chosen to help make things less intimidating on slippery roads, and for the most part it works extremely well; it’s only in occasional driving situations you find yourself with an LSD craving.

Overall, the Plus Six’s handling is very polished. In terms of outright body control it’s not perfect by any stretch, as is entirely reasonable for a car developed by a small independent company on a budget a fraction of the size of a large manufacturer. It’s a car that it takes longer to trust than some, with less immediate feedback through its controls than one might expect of a sports car. Once you learn to trust it, it’s really quite benign with a balance that appealingly tends far more towards oversteer than understeer. For an ultimate drive on a great road there are other sports cars you might choose over it (not least Supra, Alpine, Elise) – but that’s not necessarily what the Plus Six is about. It gets far closer to them from a dynamic point of view than one might expect, with a character all of its own. And in straight-line acceleration it’s more exciting than most cars this side of an Ariel Atom.  

Suspension is by double wishbones all round. In terms of ride as opposed to handling, it doesn’t quite breathe with the road as, for example, a Lotus does, with a slightly abrupt edge to its suspension movements – although it’s one that feels more comfortable with miles, and it isn’t unreasonably firm; it is a sports car, after all.

There must be some downsides to the Plus Six experience?

I struggled with the driving position, so important in a sports car. The hand-made seats (trimmed in leather with an almost limitless choice of grain and colours) look fantastic but I couldn’t help but feel like they’re mounted little too high. I felt perched on, rather than ensconced in, the car.

There is a decent range of adjustment, more so than in previous Morgans, with the seat sliding fore and aft and the backrest tiltable, enabling taller drivers to get comfortable in the Plus Six than in previous models. The Plus Six offers 200mm more legroom than a Plus 8, for example.

Nonetheless, I’m 5ft 10in but the top of my head was buffeted by the airflow, to the point that my hat was blown off my head at one point, and there’s lateral support only if you shuffle down in the seat to better support yourself against the side bolsters. The lumbar support can also be inflated or deflated with a squeezable rubber pouch, which helps, but my driving position still felt like a compromise.

The steering wheel adjusts for both reach and rake, further increasing the Plus Six’s appeal to drivers of all sizes. It’s a shame the wheel itself, an off-the-shelf unit from GKN, doesn’t look a little more bespoke. There’s some beautiful craftsmanship at play in the cabin, but naturally the first things your eyes are drawn to are the gear selector and the wheel. They are reasonable compromises to allow for given the tight budget this entire car was developed within. The Plus Six was funded by Morgan itself (and some government funding) and they’ve done a lot with a little.

Tell me more about this new platform

It’s called the CX Generation platform, CX signifying 110 years of Morgan. Throughout that time, remarkably, the company has been family owned and run; that finally changed at the beginning of 2019 with a majority stake purchased by European investment group Investindustrial – although the Plus Six was completed before the acquisition.

The Plus Six is the first car to be spun from the CX platform, which will also underpin a future flagship model to fill the gap in the range left by the Aero series. Intriguingly, the platform has provision for electric motor architecture, so a hybrid model could be possible.

Apart from the car’s structure, designed to be roomier and with greater adjustment for different drivers, the CX’s electronics platform also unlocks a variety of opportunities for Morgan: the Plus Six features central locking and puddle lights beneath the doors, for example, and while the car doesn’t currently feature traction control, it may do in future updates. 

Is there still a wood frame as part of its construction?

Yes, while the CX platform is based around a bonded aluminium monocoque – a type of structure Morgan has been working with for around 20 years now, and using BMW engines for the same stretch of time – it still features a supplementary ash frame to which its body panels are mounted. Aside from tradition, it brings extra rigidity and has benefits in impact protection.

How much is the Morgan Plus Six?

It’s not cheap, at £77,995, but that’s a more palatable price than the now out-to-pasture Plus Eight model which had strayed into six-figure territory.

The car tested here is one of the first 50 ‘First Edition’ models off the line, costing £89,995. Each comes with a hardtop as standard to supplement the moderately fiddly but effective fabric hood and a host of special design details. Each First Edition will be finished in either Emerald metallic green paintwork with tan leather or blue-grey Moonstone with blue leather (pictured).

Morgan Plus Six: verdict

The Morgan Plus Six is a deeply appealing car. While it’s more sanitised than classic Morgan models, its increased civility hasn’t eroded its character or sense of occasion. To be sat within it, sidescreens and roof removed on a sunny country lane, vented bonnet ahead and arms in the breeze, is an experience unlike almost any other in the modern automotive landscape.

The burly straight-six is both smooth and tractable at low speeds, feels electrifyingly fast when extended, and the Plus Six’s handling bodes well for further-developed applications of the CX platform in the future. The extra accommodation and relatively low 170g/km CO2 output has the potential to open possibilities in previously inaccessible European markets too.

The driving position is an issue for me, and the interior furniture may be for others, but overall this is the most well-rounded model Morgan has yet produced, and an encouraging product for the next chapters in its chronicles.

Specs

Price when new: £77,995
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 2998cc 24v turbocharged straight-six, 335bhp @ 5000rpm, 369lb ft @ 1600-4500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 4.2sec 0-62mph, 166mph, 38.2mpg, 170g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1075kg (dry)/aluminium monocoque with supplementary ash frame
Dimensions (length / width / height mm): 3890/1756/1220mm

12 Aug

2020 Morgan Plus Six First Drive Review | Supra power but a half-ton lighter (www.Autoblog.com – 7/15/19)

This would be the most perfect car for America, but . . .

The author drives the all new Morgan Plus Six

MALVERN, U.K. — Think of the very pinnacle of modern small-series automobile production; a chassis made of aluminum riveted, bonded and welded together just like the latest from Aston Martin or Lotus. Then think of English ash-wood framing on top of it, draped in expertly hand-beaten aluminum panels just like the earliest days of the motor car – the 2020 Morgan Plus Six in all its anachronistic glory. It’s like walking onto the Space Shuttle command deck to find an astrolabe in the corner.

But then Morgans are weird, of that there’s no doubt, although there’s no arguing with the figures. This latest Morgan Plus Six will accelerate from 0-62 mph in 4.2 seconds and go on to a top speed of 166 mph, assuming your license can stand it. At this point you might be laughing madly, especially if you know Morgans. It’s all flies-in-the-teeth acceleration, medieval chassis technology, and never mind the handling because you’re in the air half the time anyway. 

John Beech, Morgan’s chief engineer (formerly of Lotus) and his small team have worked miracles. This CX chassis (Roman numerals for 110) debuts under this Plus Six model, along with a new double wishbone MacPherson strut-derived front and four-link independent rear suspension with 19-inch wheels, plus an all-new engine and transmission.

[It would appear that the back of the seat has a hard surface, not the soft surface of prior cars. I don’t know if this is good or bad?? Mark]

The relationship between BMW and Morgan continues, though this time, they’re doing what Peter Morgan, the second generation Morgan to run the company, once described as ‘mission impossible’: cramming a straight-six engine under that traditionally long and heavily louvered bonnet. Peter chose instead to create the legendary 1969 V8-powered Plus Eight, but now a BMW B58 turbocharged inline-six, displacing 3.0 liters and making 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, snugs under the Plus Six’s center-hinged hood. It’s coupled to a ZF eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission driving the rear wheels.

This is one of the finest ‘sixes’ in production, and in the Plus Six it combines performance with excellent on-paper fuel economy. It’ll achieve 31.8 mpg in the generous European test cycle, but we could only manage 23 mpg average during our drive. Regardless, it’s fully Euro emissions compliant, partly because the car’s featherweight 2,370-pound curb weight means the engine isn’t heavily taxed moving the Plus Six about.  The outgoing and dipsomaniac 4.4-liter V8 Aero and Plus 8 models attracted punitive taxation in many places.

Cramming in the engine has taken a lot of work, though. Ancillaries have been relocated and the cooling system has been redesigned, with new hood nostrils and extra louvers in the hood to get the superheated air out. Even so, the front hood release on the turbo side of the car gets too hot to touch even after a gentle run – owners will need to carry gloves.

[Boy that engine bay is tight! I note the filler for the radiator has moved backwards and is now right up at the fire wall and not at the front of the car? Mark]

Climb into the cockpit (not the most dignified of maneuvers) and the biggest change becomes clear – it’s still intimate enough to be a sports car, but there’s a lot more space. By the tape, the Plus Six adds 0.8 inches to the wheelbase, which somehow freed up nearly 8 inches of leg room, 3 inches of width across the cockpit, and a deeper and more useful rear parcel shelf.

Pretty much anyone will fit into this new Morgan and it’s comfortable, too, with a tilting and telescoping adjustable steering column, air conditioning, even power door locks. Taller drivers might want for a slightly lower seat height (there’s room to get an inch or two lower) and maybe a bit more width in the seat backs, but it’s genuinely possible to spend a day behind the wheel without feeling like a piece of unfolded origami on climbing out, which you certainly did in the previous models.

The dashboard retains the traditional Morgan layout with a central speedo and rev counter, but with modern instruments and a small digital display screen in front of the driver flanked by stark and unattractive gauges for fuel contents and coolant temperature. There’s no navigation, but there is a Bluetooth system so you can use your phone instead.

The leather upholstery is quite lovely, especially the quilted finishes. The gear knob is provided by BMW, but Morgan does the handbrake and a very plasticky steering column surround. The hood is beautifully made, but like Morgans of old, it’s a finger eater to erect and you’ll struggle in the downpour to tug the windscreen capping down. In addition, the aluminum frame rattles over bumps and, with the hood furled, the aluminum cockpit trim reflects distractingly in the windscreen.

Stab the push-button start and the big BMW mill growls into life, refined despite the upgraded exhaust fitted to our test car. It’s only in the upper end of the rev counter that it produces any real sturm und drang.

You need to recall that this car is at least half a ton lighter than any other BMW fitted with the same engine and Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat, it’s fast. The twin-scroll turbocharger picks up early and fast and the bluff nose surges, unzipping the horizon towards you. Push the gearlever to one side to access the Sport program, which sharpens up the gear changes and throttle response and then there’s an additional Sport+ button to give yet more alacrity. Mid-range response is effervescent but the top end is simply stupefying.

[The rear reflectors have moved off the wings to below the car.]

If you launch it from stand still, those rear 255/35/19 Avon tires will leave perfect black lines for just as long as you want them to. Few owners are going to drive it like that, but when you’re overtaking, it’s a nice edge. 

And unlike the previous hot Morgan models, this one isn’t frightening. The Plus Six is quick, but it’s also extraordinarily composed and refined, and that long-travel throttle and gentle-giant low-end response makes it an easy car to drive briskly.

As in other BMW applications, that ZF ‘box can be a bit obstructive, reluctant to kick down at times, although there are steering-wheel paddles with which to flip down a ratio and the Morgan’s lightweight and extra work on the transmission software make it feel a bit sharper. 

Despite having a laughably infinitesimal amount of wheel travel, Beech and his team have found a compliance and chassis balance that rides and handles over some pretty poor road surfaces. No longer do sharp undulations leave the exhaust scraping the road and the nose goes where it is pointed. It is set up gently and the mien is slightly more gran turismo than all-out road racer, but that’s where the market is and that light weight means you can still play with it. The steering isn’t particularly communicative (and it could do with a slightly faster ratio), but those Avons are faithful and true; if you decide to push the tail out under throttle, you can get it back without too much drama.

For those used to Morgans this is a sensational debut, for those new to the marque, it’s the first Morgan that needs little excuse to include it in sentences containing Jaguar’s F-Pace, BMW’s Z4 and Porsche’s Boxster. What’s more there’s more to come with Aero models and sports derivatives, which will answer some of the minor niggles mentioned here.

It’s on sale now priced at £89,995 for the First Edition models, £77,995 for the standard cars. Each car takes about four weeks to build and Morgan is hoping to build up to nine a week; there’s a waiting list of 150 already.

And now the bad news, Plus Six won’t pass US production-car safety tests and while there are nascent new laws which might allow it to be sold, we’re still waiting for them to be enacted.

This would be the most perfect car for America, but if you want one, you’ll have to contact your senator.

09 Aug

MORGAN PLUS 4, 110 WORKS EDITION – TEST DRIVE (www.thecarexpert.co.uk)

The Plus 4 110 Works Edition is packed with old-school charm and celebrates a big milestone for Morgan, but what else does it offer?

What’s new about the Morgan Plus 4 110 Works Edition?

The term “What’s new?” is quite a strange one to associate with a Morgan because these cars are built in such traditional ways. But the Plus 4 110 Works Edition does have a range of fitments which differentiate it from the rest of the range. And yes, it still uses ash in its makeup, just like other Morgans.

You get a Sports ECU map for better performance, as well as a motorsport-inspired exhaust with black ceramic tips. In addition, there are motorsport-style wheels finished in satin grey. The car also has ‘110 Anniversary’ logos stitched into the headrests of the sport seats which are – handily for the UK – now heated.

How does it look?

There’s nothing on the road today which comes close to the Plus 4’s styling. It’s why it turns heads wherever it goes and looks just as happy parked up outside the supermarket as it would at the front of the Savoy Hotel. The huge sweeping wheel arches and elongated bonnet look just as good from the inside as they do from the outside – your view out over the front is one you’d struggle to tire of.

Morgan Plus 4 110 Works Edition - front view | The Car Expert

The 110 Works treatment only helps the overall effect. Our car came in a grey metallic colour, with contrast satin finish paint used on the bonnet and stone guards. The mesh-covered headlamps finish off the design, as does the new bonnet side vent – a new touch on this celebratory Morgan which you won’t find on other Plus 4 cars.

What’s the spec like?

Keen button-pressers are going to be disappointed in the Plus 4, but a wealth of in-car technology isn’t what the Morgan is about. You get a trip computer – and that’s about it. As we mentioned there’s a 12-volt socket, and heated seats too – the latter of which are surprisingly hot, but ideal for winter-time driving.

However, when it comes to customisation, Morgan has you covered. You can have the Plus 4 finished in pretty much any colour you could think of, with all manner of interior trim finishes available to accompany it.

What’s the Plus 4 Works Edition like inside?

The cabin of the Plus 4 is snug, but not unpleasantly so. Storage isn’t as much of an issue as you’d expect, with the small area behind the seats more than large enough for two soft weekend bags. Door pockets are ideal for smaller items such as keys and wallets, while the glove compartment can take the rest.

The level of finish is exceptional, though. Hand-stitched leather covers the dashboard, while chrome instrument binnacles walk a fine line between retro and modern. There’s no radio, but Morgan has thought to include a 12-volt charger so you can charge your devices via an appropriate adaptor.

Roof-up and the cockpit feels smaller again, but it’s not too bad. The wind does tend to rattle the mohair hood though – in our opinion, you’re always better sticking with the roof down, and to hell with the weather.

What’s under the bonnet?

The Plus 4 utilises a Ford-sourced 2.0-litre petrol engine with 155hp and 201Nm of torque. That may not sound like all that much but, given that the Plus 4 weighs under a ton without fluids, it’s more than enough to get it up to speed quickly enough. In fact, Morgan says it’ll crack 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds, and push on to a top speed of 118mph – figures which feel more than accurate from the cockpit.

Drive is sent to the rear wheels via a Mazda five-speed gearbox. Despite the relatively brisk performance, Morgan claims that the Plus 4 will return an impressive 40mpg while emitting 164g/km of CO2. Couple this with a 55-litre fuel tank, and you’ve got a car with a very decent touring range, giving you even more time to enjoy the car between trips to the pump.

What’s the Morgan Plus 4 Works Edition like to drive?

Get behind the wheel of a Morgan Plus 4 and you’re immediately aware that things aren’t quite as they’d be in a modern roadster. The steering wheel sits right up into your chest while the legs-out driving position feels distinctly different. Turn the key, and you’re met with an old-school exhaust note, with the 2.0-litre engine springing into life with a decent glug of revs to make its presence known.

At slower speeds, the Morgan takes some effort to pilot. The steering is heavy around town, while the ride is easily unsettled. Throw more speed into the mix, however, and the Plus 4 settles down considerably – it’s surprisingly refined on the motorway and will happily barrel along at the legal limit.

Faster corners require plenty of concentration, but there’s loads of grip to be found. The engine loves to rev too, with reasonably long gearing meaning you can exploit the 2.0-litre’s willingness to fire towards the redline whenever you get the chance.

Verdict

As far as birthday presents go, the Morgan Plus 4 110 Works Edition is right up there. The additional extras you get – both visual and mechanical – strengthen it as an overall prospect.

Though the driving experience may be distinctly old-school, it’s an immensely enjoyable one and a welcome splash of water to the face of the tech-heavy encounters you’ll have with the vast majority of cars currently on sale today.

It’s a smile-inducing car, the Morgan Plus 4 – both for the driver and for the people you pass – and it’s tricky to put a price on that, don’t you think?

Key specifications

Model as tested: Morgan Plus 4 110 Works Edition
Price (on-road): £64,995
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
Gearbox: Five-speed manual
Power: 155 hp
Torque: 201 Nm
Top speed: 118 mph
0-60mph: 7.3 seconds
Fuel economy (combined): 40 mpg
CO2 emissions: 164 g/km

07 Aug

2019 MOGSouth Fall Meet Pinehurst, NC (13-15 Sep) – Deadline Approaching !!

Folks, for those of you attending the MOGSouth Fall Meet in Pinehurst, NC (Sep 13-15) you need to make your dinner selection(s), from the menu provided previously, and get your $51.20 (per person) checks to Madeline Moody by 15 August. If you have already done this, great!! If not, don’t procrastinate. She needs this information ASAP!!

Note: the last web site update posted has the complete menu, as well as other details about the event.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask Madeline via email at madeline.moodie@gmail.com.

03 Aug

Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Clay Bars for Auto Detailing (www.theartofcleanliness.com)

[As most of you know, I have both show cars and drivers in my gaggle of Morgans. I’ve recently gotten a few blank stares (maybe it was just the individual’s natural state?) when I talked about clay so I found this article and thought it might be helpful. Cheers, Mark]

What is a clay bar? What are clay bars made of?

Quite a misnomer, clay bars aren’t actually made of clay. They are made of an elastic, malleable resin compound which is often formed into a block for distribution. You rub this block across your paint with the aid of a lubricant to help pull contaminants out and off of your paint.

How do clay bars work?

Clay bars are very lightly abrasive. Think of them like a 5000 grit piece of wet sanding paper. You lubricate the surface of your paint and rub the clay across it which abrades away and pulls out contaminants such as dirt, iron deposits, and tree sap.

The material clay bars are made out of is also malleable allowing it to form to the surfaces of your vehicle and withstand grating against the dirt and contaminants you’re removing which are very hard.

It’s important to remove these deposits with a clay bar. Many of these deposits such as rail dust, carbon, and industrial fallout contain metallic substances which when left embedded in your paint will oxidize and spread under the clear coat leading to pitting and clear coat failure.

Plus, clay barred paint is incredibly smooth. This makes the application of wax or sealant much easier and increases the bond waxes and sealants have with your paint so they last longer. Win win.

Are detailing clay bars safe?

Generally speaking, clay baring is very safe. As long as you keep the surface you are claying lubricated you shouldn’t install any scratches or marring. If you rub your clay on a non-lubricated area of paint you can scuff the paint lightly. There are also some more abrasive grades of clay than can leave behind micro marring but this marring is quickly removed by a light polish.

Since clay bars are so lightly abrasive they do not remove a meaningful amount of paint. Properly lubricated, you will never clay through your paint. You will also never remove scratches or swirls with a clay bar, that’s a job for compounds and polishes.

Can I use a clay bar on other materials such as glass or plastic?

Absolutely! Any hard surface with stuck on contaminants can benefit from claying. Use a clay bar on your windows the next time you detail your car. You’ll be amazed how smooth and water shedding the glass will be afterward.

Some grades of clay, however, should not be used on clear plastics unless you intend to polish them afterward. They can leave light hazing on soft plastic.

I typically use clay before polishing any surface be it paint, plastic, or glass that way my polishing pad has less work to do and subsequently lasts longer.

When should I clay bar my car?

Any time you feel your paint after properly washing and drying it and it feels gritty you should clay bar.

A neat trick to truly tell if your paint is gritty and contaminated is to put your hand inside a plastic bag (shopping or sandwich, doesn’t matter) like it’s a glove and rub your paint. This will amplify any imperfections. Paint that felt somewhat smooth to your bare hand will feel like sand through the bag.

Once you clay your paint you can use the bag trick to test if your paint is truly smooth and will not benefit from any more clay baring.

Does a new car need to be clay barred?

Absolutely! While your car was transported from the manufacturer to the dealer it did so by rail, highway, and even sea. Most dealers don’t do a great job at cleaning the cars once they receive them. This means your car has rail dust, iron particles, road film, salt, and other contaminants already imbedded in it.

How often should I clay bar my car?

If you’re properly caring for your car this should only be once or twice a year. By properly caring I mean you’ve already clay barred and polished it once, have kept it protected with a good wax or sealant, and have cleaned it routinely to make sure contaminants haven’t’ sat on the paint for a long time.

What are the differences between clay bars?

The primary difference in clay bars is the aggressiveness/grade. There are typically three different grades of clay bar, medium, fine and heavy.

Heavy clay bars are meant to remove deeply imbedded and adhered particles. These will leave hazing and should be followed up with polish.

Medium grade clay bars are meant to remove more stubborn contaminants but may leave behind light micro marring or hazing that will require a follow up with a light polish.

Fine grade clay bars are means to remove light amounts of contaminants and will not harm the finish. These can be used as often as you like and are the kind typically found on store shelves by the likes of Meguiars and Mothers, both of which are my recommendation for most people in search of an affordable, quality clay bar.

What can I use as clay bar lubricant?

Most clay bar kits use a quick detailer as a lubricant. This is also known as a spray wax. You can also use concentrated soapy water or a rinseless car wash solution.

Never use a clay bar without a lubricant. You’ll make a mess and mar your paint.

What alternatives are there to clay bars?

Clay bars have been around for years so it’s the first product people think of when they think about decontaminating their paint. Fortunately, in that time, some new products have come out that can entirely replace clay bars.

There are now wash mitts, pads, and towels that are made of a rubber like substance that can be used just like a clay bar and are washable/reusable.

There is a definite cost/benefit analysis to be done when considering these alternatives. On one hand they are faster to use and reusable, even if dropped, because they can be washed. On the other, they are comparatively expensive. They can cost two to four times as much as a clay bar. If you think you’ll use them often this can make them a great deal. If you’re only intending to use it once or twice, it might not make sense to spend the extra money. That is for you to decide.

How to Use a Clay Bar

Note: I recommend splitting your clay bar up into two to four pieces. This will prevent you having to throw the whole bar away should you drop your clay. Once a piece of clay hits the ground throw it away. It will pick up contaminants and it will scratch your paint otherwise.

[ have dropped my clay a couple of times. You will be tempted to try to pick off any contaminants that you see and try to reuse it (because it isn’t cheap), but you can’t see them all and the ones you didn’t find will definitely scratch your paint – Don’t do it! Mark]

  • Wash and dry your car.
  • Flatten your clay out to fit flat in your hand.
  • Spray a small area of a single panel, around 2 square feet, with your lubricant of choice.
  • Lightly rub the clay back and forth on the lubricated paint.
  • Rub the clay back and forth until you no longer feel any resistance or hear friction. This means the paint is clean.
  • Wipe off the area you just worked with a quality microfiber towel.
  • Feel the surface with your fingertips. It should feel smooth. If not, repeat the claying process again.
  • Move on to the next area.
  • When the surface of the clay stars to look dirty, fold it in to reveal a clean surface to proceed with.
  • Once you’re finished it is a good idea to re-wash the vehicle to remove any residue left behind by the clay and lubricant.

Tips for Using a Claybar

  • Wash panel before clay baring to prevent marring paint.
  • If you drop the clay, game over, throw it away.
  • Cut your bar into smaller pieces so you don’t ruin the whole bar if you drop it.
  • Work in the shade so the sun doesn’t dry your lubricant too fast.
  • Work in smaller areas at a time so your lubricant doesn’t dry up.
  • Use light pressure. Heavy pressure will displace the lubricant and you’ll scuff your paint.
  • Make sure to frequently fold in the clay to expose a clean surface to clay with.
  • Spray your clay with lubricant and place it into a sealed baggy for long term storage.

What is the Best Clay Bar?

Honestly, most clay bars within the same grade are pretty equal. Some are a little more malleable and shapeable than others but the performance is roughly the same. This is one area where the whole “you get what you pay for” thing doesn’t really hold true.

I have used many brands of clay bar over the last 15 years and I still come back to the Meguiars and Mothers bars you can pick up off the shelf at most big box stores for under $20. I’ve used both and generally grab whichever is cheapest at the time. You’ll get 160g worth of clay, a decent microfiber towel, and clay lubricant (quick detailer) for the same cost as just a bar of clay from other brands.

You really can’t go wrong with the above mentioned bars unless your car is in such bad shape that you need a medium or heavy bar. In that case take a look at Heavy or Medium grade bars.