After 19 years, it’s time for a new Morgan!
On the occasion of its 110th anniversary, the tiny manufacturer of timeless exposed-fendered, ash-framed sports cars and three-wheelers from Malvern Link, England, had big news to share in Geneva. Timed to coincide with the end (last year) of its naturally aspirated BMW V-8 engine supply, the company has tooled up a completely new chassis built around its replacement engine—the venerable BMW B58 TwinPower Turbo inline-six engine. The Plus Eight is dead, long live the Morgan Plus Six!
Yes, the same engine that powers the BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra two-seaters will also motivate this one, producing 335 hp and 369 lb-ft and mated to the familiar eight-speed automatic found in the BMW applications. It is both the first inline-six and the first turbo employed in a Morgan, and it’s said to propel the roughly 2,500-pound (1,134 kg) roadster to 62 mph (100 km/h) in just 4.2 seconds en route to a top speed of 165 mph (265 km/h). That’s a 0.3-second, 10-mph (16-kph) improvement over the 367-hp, 370-lb-ft Plus Eight’s quoted performance. Better still, the official CO2 rating improves by an impressive 40 percent, eliminating onerous taxation in some markets that rendered the Plus Eight all but unsalable.
As for the chassis, the good thing about waiting 19 years between redesigns is that engineering technology and best practices march so much further on that you can make impressive pronouncements like this one: “Torsional rigidity has been increased by 100 percent over the previous-generation chassis [with] no extra weight penalty.” Wow, what a noodle the old one musta been!
Dubbed the CX-generation (Roman numerals for 110, get it?), this bonded aluminum chassis, developed in house, features a 20mm wheelbase stretch that, along with a new, thinner seat design and other savvy packaging, results in 200mm more legroom and 31 percent more stowage space. I didn’t immediately convert those figures (0.8 and 7.9 inches) as a segue to this other notable press-release quote from John Beech, the chief engineer: “The Plus Six is the first metric Morgan, which may sound strange, but this is the first time we’ve captured the whole vehicle architecture, chassis, [body-in-white structure], suspension, electronics, and interior trim.” More wow.
Less than 1 percent of the bill of materials is shared with other Morgan models, though the cars are crafted in very much the same way. Hand-formed aluminum body panels are affixed to English ash framing (which is now thicker for greater strength), and the suspension is via coil-over shocks and control arms all around, augmented by toe-control links in the rear. The geometry and tuning of the suspension and bushings take full advantage of the vastly more rigid CX platform.
Other bold upgrades in technology include the first fitment of automatic headlights and the first puddle lamps offered on a Morgan. A small LCD information screen is integrated into the instrument cluster, but care has been taken not to present distracting information on it. The doors provide added side-impact protection and feature speakers secreted behind the leather covering. Before you know it, Morgans will offer voice commands and radar cruise control …
— Morgan Motor Company (@morganmotor) March 7, 2019
Four Plus Six variants are available at launch, known as the Morgan Plus Six, Plus Six Touring, and two Plus Six First Editions, in Moonstone or Emerald livery. The initial production of First Edition models will sell for $117,848 USD with later base models opening at $102,135 USD (prices are in England, and include value-added tax). Morgan is quite keen to sell its flagship product in North America, and the CX architecture is completely package-protected to meet our regulations. Final approval of the United States Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015 would certainly speed things up, but Congress gonna Congress, so don’t hold your breath. Marketing chief Toby Blythe says he expects to be in our market within two years. For now, Morgan is importing 3 Wheelers, and you can get the “narrow body” Plus Four model; it just has to be imported as a “rolling coach” sans engine, and the dealer completes assembly in the U.S. Not sure where your nearest dealer is? Contact one of the largest, which is within a mile of MotorTrend’s Detroit office: Auto Europe.
Oh, and the other big news: Morgan just got a big cash infusion from a new majority stakeholder, Investindustrial, a European firm that has also invested in Aston Martin. This is either sad news of yet another British automaker succumbing to European ownership, or it’s just the lifeline that was needed to keep the lights on at one of England’s oldest automakers. We think the world is more interesting with Morgan in it.
|2020 Morgan Plus 6|
|BASE PRICE||$102,135-$117,848 (UK-market prices)|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door convertible|
|ENGINE||3.0L/335-hp/369-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 24-valve I-6|
|CURB WEIGHT||2,500 lb (est)|
|LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT||153.1 x 69.1 x 48.0 in|
|0-62 MPH||4.2 sec (mfr est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||Not yet rated|
|ON SALE IN U.S.||2021 (estimated)|