Morgan Plus Four

New BMW-powered Morgan Plus Four released, keeps classic shape

Priced from £62,000

The new Morgan Plus Four sports car is available to order from today, the British firm has announced. At least, it says “new” on the docket but, of course, this being Morgan it’s not entirely new and not entirely old.

The Plus Four name dates back to 1950, making it a relative Johnny-come-lately in Morgan terms. It was originally created — using a Standard-Triumph engine — as a mid-spec Morgan, sitting between the lesser-powered 4/4 model and the later Plus 8, with its mighty V8 engine.

That’s a role the Plus Four continues today, only instead of the wooden ladder-chassis construction of the 1950 original, the modern Plus Four gets an aerospace-spec bonded and riveted aluminium chassis (the choice of fellow British brands Aston Martin and Lotus) and instead of a wheezy old Triumph engine the Four gets a four-cylinder turbocharged BMW unit.

Now, that was all true of the existing Plus Four, so what exactly is it that makes this — more or less visually identical version — new? Well, underneath the Bertie Wooster bodywork, Morgan has been hard at work updating the Plus Four to keep it feeling fresh.

There are some small visual differences, with changes to the front wings, new headlights (specially made and designed for the car now, rather than off-the-shelf units as in the past). There’s a new front air splitter and a rear diffuser, to help clean up airflow, and new ‘floating’ numberplate mounts. So while the Plus Four still looks utterly familiar, and undoubtedly a Morgan, it is a little fresher.

Those new lights are a full inch bigger than before, and as well as being brighter and farther-reaching, they also incorporate the indicators, resulting in cleaner front styling.

The big, sweeping wings are also new, and are made using a ‘cold-forming’ technique that puts extra surfacing into the aluminium, catching the light in different ways to the wings of the previous Plus Four.

There’s even a new badge, which uses a typeface inspired by the company founder, HFS Morgan.

“To think of a Morgan is to picture the unmistakable silhouette of the Plus Four,” said Jonathan Wells, chief design officer. “During this exciting time in the company’s history, while we look towards broader visual experimentation across our model range, the continuous evolution of Plus Four — our time-proven brand anchor — is rightly afforded a more delicate approach.

“The changes we have made — as with any longstanding design-led product — consider the delicate balance between tradition and innovation.”

He added: “Strategic design simplification has reduced visual distraction and celebrates enhanced quality at a component level throughout.”

Low weight, plenty of power

As before, the turbocharged BMW 2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine (lifted from the BMW 330i) develops 255bhp and 258lb ft of torque (twisting force), and drives the rear wheels through a choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearboxes.

Because the Morgan Plus Four weighs just a tonne, performance should be thrilling. Standstill to 62mph comes in just 4.8 seconds for the automatic version, and 5.2 seconds for the manual.

That low weight also equals decent efficiency — fuel economy is quoted at 45mpg for the auto, and emissions dip as low as 140g/km.

The Plus Four’s suspension has been given a good going-over by Morgan’s engineers and there’s a new option in the form of a Dynamic Handling Pack, which has been developed with suspension experts Nitron. It uses revised springs with single-way adjustable damping and adjustable spring platforms, as well as the addition of a rear anti-roll bar. Morgan claims that this tightens up the Plus Four’s handling and makes it more fun to drive.

Simple is best inside

In the two-seat cockpit, there’s a new lightweight Sennheiser audio system with hidden speakers under the seats, as well as updated lighting and a revised dashboard. Morgan has worked to include additional audio controls without increasing the button count on the dash, keeping things simple inside the cosy cabin.

“The latest Plus Four represents a fitting evolution of our longest established nameplate and delivers an even greater Morgan experience to our customers around the world,” said Matt Hole, chief technical officer.

“It does this thanks to new dynamic improvements which deliver a more engaging level of performance, through myriad technology updates which improve the user’s interaction with the vehicle, and a range of quality enhancements which further increase engineering integrity.”

Morgan’s CEO, Massimo Fumarola, said he understands the “importance and responsibility when evolving this longstanding nameplate”.

“Whilst other models within our line-up offer greater opportunity for experimentation, Plus Four requires a more delicate approach,” he said. “We believe that the new features and detail culminate to create a fitting evolution and an immediate impression of a more refined, usable, and quality sports car, yet one that remains playful and fun.”

Fumarola also claimed that the new Plus marks the start of a new approach to vehicle design, engineering, quality, and production at Morgan.

The new Plus Four is available to order in the UK now, priced from £62,000, with the first new cars going into production in May.

Morgan is also working towards getting the updated Plus Four homologated for sale in the US market, although it’s not quite ready to announce a timeframe on that yet. It will make this the first four-wheeled Morgan to officially go on sale in America since 2006.

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