Morgan Plus 8

The new Morgan is driving by the seat of your pants

Price: £85,200
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.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Apprentice IT Technician

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

    1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

    £153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

    1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

    Sales Associate Apprentice

    £150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit