The New Morgan Plus Four Is a Pleasantly British Mix of Fun and Comfort

Alex Goy
Photo credit: James Arbuckle/Morgan

From Road & Track

Morgan’s new Plus Four will perplex a lot of people. Fans of the brand will be at odds with its new turbocharged engine. People who have no idea that Morgan’s jam is making new cars that look like old cars will constantly ask how old it is. Hardcore sports car fans will wonder why you didn’t buy a Porsche. Each group, and its concerns, are valid, and they’re easily explained away.

Its predecessor, the Plus 4, had been in and out of production since the middle of the last century, it’s time for something of an upgrade to match the firm’s flagship Supra-powered Plus Six. That means using Morgan’s new lightweight bonded CX platform and throwing a turbocharged motor under its deliciously long hood.

Photo credit: James Arbuckle/Morgan

The motor of choice in the Plus Four is a 2.0-liter turbo motor kicking out 255bhp. The torque figure varies depending on which gearbox you spec. Go for the six-speed BMW manual and you get 258 lb-ft of torque, opt for the ZF eight-speed auto and you get 295 lb-ft. A big difference on paper, sure, but in the real world… not so much. 0-62 mph takes 4.8 seconds in the auto and 5.2 seconds in the stick, both will top out at 149 mph. Thanks to its tiny turbo powerplant, you’ll get around 33 mpg with mixed driving. It’s not cheap, with prices starting at $78,000, but for a certain kind of buyer that won’t matter.

Its new lightweight underpinnings weigh in at less than 220 lbs, yet give the Plus Four more passenger and luggage space than the outgoing Plus 4. Compared to the old car there’s plenty more room to stretch out, but don’t go thinking you’ll be able to pack a steamer trunk in the back. Anything more than a weekend bag will need a luggage rack and ratchet straps attached to the rear.

Photo credit: James Arbuckle/Morgan

Just because the chassis and motor are new, traditional Morganity hasn’t been thrown out of the window. It still comes with a hand cut, formed, and prepared ash frame. The leather is hand stitched. Engines, seats, trim… everything is installed by hand. Everything you see is installed by a human, not by a machine. Classically that’s given Morgan’s cars a ‘handmade’ feel—something to take pride in, but also one that brings the odd bit of wobbly trim.

Photo credit: James Arbuckle/Morgan

Put it next to an old Plus 4 and the differences are there but hard to spot. It’s bigger, sure, and it gets two big pipes out back, but it looks like a traditional Morgan should. Purists will be happy, onlookers confused.

In fact, if you really want to confuse someone get them to ride along with you. See, the whole car weighs in at less than 2250 lbs, and with the power and torque on offer from that BMW motor, it doesn’t look like it goes. Jonny Bystander will hop in, expect some clattering and a gentle amble to 62 mph. Jonny will not get that. Press the start button and there are no rattles, just a boom as its tailpipes fire out a low, bassy burble. When you stamp on the gas the turbo whistles as you’re pushed back in your seat. In today’s climate of 300 bhp Golf Rs, a 255 bhp sports car seems underpowered on paper, but it really doesn’t feel it. With Sport Plus mode engaged (sharper throttle in the stick, quicker shifts as well for the auto) the pipes pop and bang. Jonny will wonder what’s just happened, giggle, and ask you to do it again.

Photo credit: James Arbuckle/Morgan

The turbo torque is a fun thing to play with in a car that light. Even the gentlest tickle gives you a hearty boost forward. When you’re not haring around empty roads and bumbling through town, you can leave it in third and waft.

Cruising is what the Plus Four excels at. Yeah, giving it a kicking and making it whistle is fun, but it’s at its happiest when you’re ambling along. Amble quickly by all means, but you’re never encouraged to drive as though your hair’s on fire. This is down, partly, to its suspension and steering set up. The Plus Four isn’t an apex chaser. Its ride is smooth and comfortable rather than stiff. Pitch in to a corner and it’ll gently pitch before hunkering on its rear wheels as you fire it out the other side. Like the springs, the steering is the lighter side of sporty. Easy enough to use with one hand as you cruise along, though it doesn’t offer amazing feedback as a consequence. Fine for pointing it down a straight and hammering it, less suited for apex hunting. It’s fun and (really) fast when you want it to be, but don’t expect to be taking on Boxsters and the like in the twisties. The brakes, handily, are pretty smooth. There’s decent pedal feel and will bleed speed off neatly when asked.

Either gearbox option is a solid choice. The stick is BMW’s own six speeder, and it works well here. Pleasingly chunky, but easy enough to use that your mum would have a good time. The eight-speed auto is slick and quick to react when you leave it to its own devices, but if you want to row your own the paddles are as engaging as they come. Most buyers will likely spec the auto.

If you like smiling like a loon at low speeds you’ll be happy in the Plus Four. It comes with some downsides—practicality being one, the fact you have to choose whether you want side windows before you leave the house (and attach them yourself if you do) is another.

The new Plus Four may look like something from yesteryear, but it sure doesn’t drive like one. It’s fast, looks good, and suits the more relaxed driver. It’s not a perfect car by any means, but as something that’ll stand out anywhere, and amuse Jonny Bystander, few will top it. Any stereotypical image that Morgans are slow, rattly old things can go out the window.

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