Morgan Plus Four



    I fancied fish and chips the other night. Nothing fancy, just fish and chips, wrapped in paper, and with plenty of salt and vinegar. Now, in these current post-Covid lockdown times that presents a couple of problems. The first is you cannot be spontaneous; popping-in to your local chip-shop without first making an appointment is no longer an option. The second problem is I don’t actually have a local chip-shop. It’s at least a 12 mile round trip from here in The Far Unlit Unknown to anywhere that offers such levels of civilisation, and to be honest it’s not that good when you get there.

    The truth is my favourite chippy is Enoch’s, in Llandudno Junction. If you take the direct route from here, it’s 93 miles each way.

    Fortunately, I had another British classic much closer to hand, albeit an inedible one with a significantly higher price tag, and a thoroughly modern twist to boot. Morgan had kindly lent me their new Plus Four.

    It may look like nearly every other product of Malvern Link’s Pickersleigh Avenue but Morgan’s new Plus Four is a quantum leap from what once went before. There is still a handmade ash frame – a Morgan simply wouldn’t be the same without one, it’s thicker now though.  And there’s still those glorious archetypal British sports car looks; the flowing front wings, the bulbous headlamps, handstitched seats covered in thick leather, and should your budget allow them, beautiful wire wheels with brass centre caps. Yet underneath it all there’s something altogether more modern.

   Where once hid a steel ladder-frame chassis and sliding-pillar front suspension that offered all comfort and structural rigidity of a tea tray sliding down a cobbled street, there now sits Morgan’s new bonded aluminium CX platform - the same one that first saw light of day on the Plus Four’s bigger sister, The Plus Six. In this guise, said monocoque gets shorter double wishbone suspension and narrower wheels and tyres – the Plus Four is 3 inches slimmer than the Plus Six – and as the name suggests it’s fitted with a four-cylinder engine instead of a straight six.

     You also get such luxuries as automatic LED headlamps, power steering, central locking, puddle lamps, heated seats, air-conditioning, and believe it or not, Bluetooth connectivity. How very modern!  Don’t expect an electric roof mechanism though, and you still have to remove the door-tops, complete with their sliding Perspex side windows, by hand, using what looks like an Allen key. Airbags of any description are conspicuous by their absence.

    Under the Plus Four’s long, louvered bonnet you’ll find the same BMW 2.0 litre turbo-charged engine as you would in the Bavarian’s 330i executive saloon. Only here, there is significantly less weight to pull along. The Plus Four tips the scales (dry) at barely over a tonne; that German power plant packs 255bhp. Performance therefore, is indeed sprightly.

     You can buy your Plus Four with a an 8-speed automatic gearbox and the ability to dash to 62 mph in under 5 seconds but, I’d argue all day long that it’s the slightly slower – and incidentally, cheaper- 6-speed manual that’s the one to go for. You won’t notice the extra half second so required to get you to the legal limit, but I guarantee you’ll notice just how much more you feel involved whilst trying to do so.

    Because it’s lighter, and narrower, and because you have to change gear yourself, you feel all-the-more part of the driving experience in the Plus Four. Whereas a Plus Six can sometimes feel like a slightly intimidating GT car – and especially so in the wet, the Plus Four is definitely more the nimble sports car. It’s easier to thread up a Welsh Mountain B-road, offers similar day-to-day performance. Three pedals mean you can heel-and-toe when changing down and there’s more than enough torque to allow you to adjust your line through a corner with your right foot.

   It rides well too. No longer do fear for you spine when you hit a manhole cover, and near thumb-breaking kickback that was one so much a feature of a Morgan’s steering has been banished. Hoorah!

     If all that sounds as if the Plus Four has in some way been sanitised and stripped of its character, fear not, it’s still every inch a Morgan. It’s draughty, it’s noisy, the hood reverberates like a sub-woofer at motorway speeds, there’s no boot, there’s no footrest for your left foot, and with the roof up it requires a certain level of contortionism to even get in or out of. It is every bit as idiosyncratic as you want it to be.

    And on Saturday night, when there’s nothing else to do than drive half-way across Wales for a bag of chips it’s a delight; an indulgence maybe, not something to be had every day perhaps, and arguably, someone somewhere is doing something similar, better, and for less money, but, it’s a simple pleasure nonetheless.

     When I returned the Plus Four back to Morgan’s HQ a few days later, their PR man, James, asked me what I thought of it. “It’s the best car you make,” I told him, “Probably the best Morgan I’ve driven”.  I meant every word of it too.



Morgan Plus Four

Engine: BMW 1,998cc, 16 valve, turbo-charged, 4-Cylinder petrol

Power:    255bhp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 258 lbft @1,000 – 5,000rpm

Transmission:  6-speed Manual. Rear-wheel drive

Performance: 0-62 mph 5.2 sec

Max Speed: 149 mph

MPG: 39 (Combined).

Weight: 1013 kg (dry)

CO2: 165 g/km

Price: from £62,995 (as tested £74,949)  





Many Thanks to James Gilbert, David, and everyone at Morgan Motor Company


Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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