Supra power + old school looks: The Plus 6 is Morgan's most accomplished car yet
And all built on a brand new platform
Alex Goy is a freelance motoring journalist who writes for the likes of Motor1, Carfection, CNET and DriveTribe.
Before now, the ‘big’ Morgan has been the Plus Eight. A hand built, V8 mentalist, the Plus 8 was the car for people who wanted to take their motors touring, and to make an enormous amount of noise in the process.
It was a glorious thing, but one that emissions regs has sadly killed off. The new ‘big’ Morgan is somewhat different. The Plus Six comes with a turbocharged straight six, an all-new platform, and more space. It is also utterly unhinged.
Launched at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, alongside an announcement that Morgan is now part owned by an Italian investment firm (with the implication that it has more money than God), the Plus Six may well be the last ‘old’ Morgan built before the Italian money starts to creep in.
The team in Malvern has developed a stronger, more spacious, better spring platform for its new car. It struck a deal with engine supplier BMW to nab its B58 motor (the same one you get in the Z4 and Toyota’s sainted Supra) as well. While its look follows Morgan design language closely, Jon Wells and his team made some key changes in the process – its nostrils, for example. Much like Morgan itself, the new car was new, but old. Marv-o.
It’s an important car for the company, as its platform and powertrain are likely to form the basis for its ‘big’ product for years to come. The good news is that it’s chuffing incredible. Not perfect by any means, but a leap forward over what’s come before.
It looks cracking, that’s for sure. Even on the streets of Malvern, where Morgans are surely a common sight, it caused heads to turn. The newly embiggened interior looks very much like a traditional Morgan, albeit with more space, and a hidden aux cable to plug your phone in to the speakers. There’s little by way of infotainment, but who uses anything other than their phone these days anyway?
The view through the short windscreen is pleasingly British. You look straight into its nostrils, and can use the massive front arches as a guide to where the front is. Handy. The interior, while pretty, isn’t perfect. It was pleasingly rattle free (hand built cars can be VERY rattly), but the seats were rock hard. Something that may disappear with age, but a concern for now.
The speakers are a bit tinny as well, but can go loud enough to make themselves heard at speed. Owing to the seat and ‘wheel positions, and how awkwardly sized I am, getting in and out was an awkward affair as well.
Firing up the Plus Six is a strange experience. Where once there was a burst of V8 burbliness, now there’s a bassy hum, followed by near silence at low speed. Keep the motor unstressed and it glides through town. It’s almost relaxing.
It becomes much, much less relaxing when you give it some stick. See, the B58 powertrain comes with 335bhp and 369lb ft. That torque figure is the important bit – you get it from as low as 1,600rpm – basically nothing. The other thing to note is that the Plus Six doesn’t have any form of traction control. In the V8 car that wasn’t a pressing concern, but here… you have to treat it with respect else you’ll find yourself pulling some interesting angles coming out of junctions. It’ll also leave a set of number elevens if your foot slips…
The powertrain is staggeringly good. There’s little waiting around for torque, no sloppy slush-o-matic gear change to wait for. The thing just goes. Morgan says it’ll crack 0-62mph in a smidge over four seconds, which is entirely feasible, and it’ll hit 166mph. Simply point it at a place you want to be at and you’ll get there in no time at all.
Weighing in at 1075kgs, it’s not heavy at all. You don’t feel much weight transfer during cornering, it never feels… saggy. More taught and lively when you’re in a hurry. When you’re not it rides well, meaning you can take it to your favourite bit of road and not worry about doing your back in on the rough stuff en route.
Its steering is smooth as well, though it could do with a little more feel. That said, it doesn’t tramline on nasty roads at all.
The only pubes in the ointment… the brakes and the BMW gear lever. The brakes work, and they work well when you need them to, but they lack feel. The pedal has a short travel, and it takes some getting used to. The lever? When you're driving it you don't notice it, but some wood cladding or body-colour might help it blend in.
Morgan had a big job on its hands when it had to replace its V8 cars. Turbocharging was a risk, and something the company had never done before. However, the resulting car is, easily, the most accomplished sports car Malvern has put out in recent memory. It’s very different from everything else out there, and wonderfully so.