Morgan Plus 8
The new Morgan is driving by the seat of your pants
Engine: 4.8-litre V8
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power output (bhp @ rpm): 367 @ 6,500
Top speed (mph): 155 0-62 mph (seconds): 4.5
Pulling up at its factory in Great Malvern, it is clear that the Morgan Motor Company isn't your average sports car manufacturer. The site is small and men in brown coats are wheeling around shells of the sort of "motor car" that Cousin Matthew might choose for his run home to Downton Abbey from the hospital. While inside, there isn't a robotic arm or automated paint shop in sight.
This is car manufacturing as it has been at Morgan for more than 100 years. Of course, some techniques have changed but the new Morgan Plus 8 I'm here to test looks much the same as the first model did nearly 45 years ago. At first it's not even obvious what is new, but it's actually a rather modern beast (with a BMW engine) in an old-fashioned body.
Parked outside the workshop it looks like it's come straight out of the pages of a 1930s spy thriller or Second World War tale of bravery. If you squint and imagine it in black and white, it's not hard to see Biggles zipping around in one while on leave from his Spitfire squadrom. This is a car that oozes charm, plucky British grit – part of its body frame is still made from wood for goodness sake – and class.
The roof down, my companion wrapped up in all the glamorous (fake) fur she owns and with the outside temperature dropping close to zero, I make myself comfortable for a winter afternoon squirt into the Welsh borders. The first thing you notice is how difficult it is (at first) to place the Plus 8 with precision. It's light and visibility is good but the steering is fairly vague and the whole experience (and noise) is just so radically different from anything else on the road today.
Let yourself warm to it though, find an open stretch of road and you become aware of just how wonderfully bonkers the Plus 8 is. The BMW V8 engine is staggeringly quick and responsive, but if you're not careful you'll quickly become unstuck. The steering is easily distracted by bumps in the road and if you put your foot down at the wrong place the back end will give up the grip, fight with the road and slide sideways.
This is all part of the fun and exactly why you'd spend £80k (that's Porsche 911 money) on a Plus 8. Squirting along narrow lanes the engine blips and fires as you shift down and you soon know you're driving a car , without traction control or any fancy onboard computers, that demands to be driven, not just guided along the road. Nothing but your skill and judgement keeps you on the road.
Morgan is yet another British motoring success story at the moment with exports expected to rise by a third this year (thanks, as usual, to booming Chinese demand), but the Plus 8 isn't perfect. Far from it. It's incredibly expensive for something that should be seen as a "new" classic car rather than as an everyday performance motor. And the interior, while wonderfully heated and coated in leather, feels a little cheap and slapdash in places. The ride is fidgety to the point of distraction, too, and will make you suffer on long journeys. It's also best not to mention fuel economy or the long waiting list to actually get hold of one.
For all this the Plus 8 is still a magical thing. Yes, it's totally bonkers but that's not the point. Anyone with £80k can buy a Porsche 911 or a Jaguar XK, but the Plus 8 is something special that needs to be driven, and driven properly with the top down all-year round. That probably makes Morgan owners brave but certifiable, but you can't help but admire them for that.
Life & Style blogs
Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
Fake goats’ cheese found in supermarkets
Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
Uber France apologises for sexist promotion offering men free rides with 'incredibly hot chicks' as drivers
Hate your email? Google knows: its new app promises the earth (and a manageable inbox)
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Marijuana use by teenagers does not result in a lower IQ or worse exam results, study finds
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...
£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...
£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...
£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...