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Morgan Aero review (2000-on)

It's not pretty and it's not sophisticated, but this hyper-expensive is very fast and brings a lot of British history with it.


Aero tracking

What is the Morgan Aero?

The Aero coupé and Aero SuperSports roadster are the latest modern-day Morgans, descended from the Aero 8 (which was launched in 2000 as the first new design since 1948). They feature a bonded aluminium chassis (though ash-wood elements remain in the substructure) and a BMW-sourced V8. There are more powerful sports cars out there at the price — the coupé costs a smidgeon under £100,000 new — but with a Morgan you’re buying visceral thrills unhampered by stability control and other nannying electronic interventions, plus a heritage stretching back to 1910. It’s an easy (if expensive) way to mix the pleasure of a classic car with the advantages of something modern: you get the driving experience and the image without the hassle. The styling of the coupé — developed from that of the 100-car limited-edition Aeromax — is dramatic, combining the familiar Morgan nose with elements of a chopped-top drag racer and a bulging back end, all the better for aerodynamics (the clue’s in the name). It’s not pretty, but it’s certainly attention-grabbing. The SuperSports roadster has targa-style roof panels — but don’t expect any clever electric folding. You take them off manually, put them in the bags provided and promptly lose all your boot space should you want to take them with you. Still, this does save weight — the car’s just 5kg heavier than the coupé, itself a skinny 1,175kg. T

The drive

The 362bhp of the V8 engine goes a long way: 0-62mph takes 4.5 seconds, and the top speed, 170mph, should be enough for anyone. The six-speed automatic gearbox is quick, and you can move it along even more swiftly with the paddles (manual versions are also now available). It’s easy to list the annoyances of these cars — a hard ride, loads of wind noise, very little load space, some cheap switchgear, the risk of burning yourself on the side-mounted exhaust pipes — but if any of that’s going to bother you, you obviously don’t get it. You buy an Aero for the grip, the handling, the direct contact with the road and the utterly fantastic engine noise.

None of this comes cheap, however, and buying second-hand doesn’t necessarily mean saving big money: given the low production numbers at the Morgan factory, you’re in effect paying to jump the queue for delivery. And that’s if you can even find one: Morgan owners tend to hang on to their cars, as they’re not frivolous purchases driven by the whims of fashion. If you’re not lucky enough to inherit a Morgan from an elderly uncle, specialist dealerships within the approved network are your best bet. The Aero 8, phased out by Morgan in 2010, is becoming easier to find second-hand.

aerocoupeRear

 

What to look out for when buying the Morgan Aero

Each Morgan is built by hand at the factory in Malvern, Worcestershire, with long-proven production techniques. There may be the odd idiosyncrasy, however — some road-testers (and not just those more used to reviewing MPVs and family hatches) have complained about ill-fitting windows and doors. The BMW V8 is reliable, though early failures of the dual-mass flywheel have been reported in Aero 8s. Do make sure that servicing has been carried out to schedule — low-mileage owners may not have checked in with a specialist often enough. There are about 20 approved Morgan dealers and service centres in the UK, and owners report that it can take a while for repairs to be carried out. Look out for corroded brake discs and other problems that can arise from too much time in the garage — many owners use their Morgans sparingly. Conversely, keep an eye out for wear and tear from racing or track use, and make sure that any performance or handling enhancements are official Aero Racing modifications.

aerocoupeCabin

Repairing the leather upholstery is expensive, so make sure that’s undamaged, ensure that all electrical and electronic functions (such as there are) work properly and check for damage to the expensive alloy wheels. Owners of older Aero 8s and Aeromaxes report sagging of the doors, corrosion of the alloy around the headlights and paint bubbling, wear of the suspension ball joints, electric window failure and even cracked windows, immobiliser and locking problems, sensor failure (including the air mass sensor) and other glitches in the older version of the BMW engine, which was updated in 2008. Further problems noted have included the bonnet latch mechanism not working, cruise control and tyre pressure monitoring on the blink, engine over-run and fuel pump issues and noisy air filters and heater fans.  

Published October 23, 2012 Tweet Follow @ST_Driving

The one to buy

Morgan Aero SuperSports automatic, £126,900.

Factfile

Engine:
4799cc, V8
Power:
362bhp @ 6300rpm
Torque:
361 lb ft @ 3400rpm
Transmission:
6-speed automatic
Acceleration:
0-62mph in 4.5sec
Top speed:
170mph
Fuel
26mpg (combined)
CO2:
256g/km
Road tax band:
Dimensions:
L 4147mm, W 1751mm, H 1248mm

Morgan Aero SuperSports rivals