A new dawn for Morgan Motor Company
The Morgan Motor Company today introduces the next iteration of its core model, with the launch of the all-new Morgan Plus Four. The car represents a revolutionary successor to the Plus 4, a model that has formed the backbone of Morgan production since its debut in 1950. Now, 70 years after the first Plus 4 rolled off the production line at Morgan’s Pickersleigh Road factory in Malvern, UK, a new chapter begins.
Design & Dynamics
The Plus Four is based on the bonded aluminium CX-Generation platform, so called because it made its debut in Morgan’s 110th year (2019). Exponentially more rigid than the outgoing steel ladder chassis, yet astonishingly lightweight at just 97 kg, this advanced platform transforms the car’s ride and handling capabilities, making it truly competitive against its 21st-century competition. However, the famed Morgan driving experience of the model hasn’t been forgotten – its agility, response and balance will be instantly familiar to anyone who has driven a Morgan sports car past or present.
Despite sharing the CX-Generation platform with the Morgan Plus Six, the design of the Plus Four is markedly different. Four-cylinder Morgan cars have always featured a narrower body than the larger-engined models in the range, and the new Plus Four is no exception. Compared to the Plus Six, the Plus Four is 104mm narrower in the central body and 78mm narrower overall, and features uniquely profiled wings.
The Plus Four retains a similar footprint to the model it replaces but, thanks to the advanced packaging of the CX-Generation platform, brings increased interior passenger and luggage space. Furthermore, ingress and egress have been dramatically improved. Together, these advancements enhance the day-to-day usability of the car, and make it available to an even greater number of customers.
The all-new Plus Four boasts a number of ‘firsts’ for a CX-Generation Morgan, not least of which is the availability of new 15” wire wheels. The addition of this wheel design, which represents a core part of the company’s design language, required extensive development work, including redesigned wishbones, suspension uprights and braking components. A newly designed alloy wheel style, which references sports cars of the 1960s and 70s as well as Morgan wheel designs of old, is also available.
Powertrain, Performance & Emissions
Morgan has built on its long-standing relationship with BMW, choosing to use its 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo engine. It marks the first time a four-cylinder turbocharged engine has featured in a Morgan car, and produces 255 bhp (190 kW) along with, in the automatic variant, 295 lb ft (400 Nm) of torque. In combination with a dry weight of just 1009 kg, it provides effortless performance: 0-62 mph (0-100 kph) takes just 4.8 seconds; top speed is 149 mph (240 kph). The manual variant develops 258 lb ft (350 Nm) of torque, which combined with a dry weight of 1013 kg, results in a 0-62 mph (100 kph) time of 5.2 seconds. Power and top speed match the automatic model.
While headline power and torque figures remain consistent with BMW applications, the engine mapping has been specifically calibrated to allow optimum driveability and response in the Plus Four. As with the Morgan Plus Six, a sport plus mode is available, engaged using a button on the centre column. It sharpens the throttle response, releasing a whole new dynamic character from the car. Overall, engine output is comparable with the outgoing, steel-chassis Morgan Roadster, however, real-world performance and dynamics have been taken to a completely new level.
The all-new Plus Four also marks the introduction of a manual gearbox for the first time in a CX-Generation platform Morgan. The six-speed gearbox has been optimised to provide a perfectly weighted movement which, combined with its carefully chosen ratios, delivers an engaging driving experience. The gearbox pairs beautifully with the 2.0-litre BMW TwinPower Turbo engine and offers further choice to the customer.
For the first time in the model, an automatic gearbox is also available from the factory. The eight-speed automatic features paddle shift, and has already proven to be a perfect match to both the CX-Generation platform and a BMW engine in the acclaimed Plus Six. Moving the gear selector away from you puts the Plus Four into sport mode, which changes shift patterns and response, resulting in a more dynamic driving experience. Ratios can also be chosen manually, using either the gear selector or the steering-column-mounted paddles.
While power and torque levels have risen by more than 65% compared to the outgoing Plus 4, the cutting-edge drivetrain technology provides the Plus Four with a similar fuel economy of 40 mpg (7.0 l/100km), and a reduction in CO2 to just 159 g/km for the automatic variant (manual car: 39 mpg (7.3 l/100km); 165 g/km CO2). The lower emissions ratings, representing a 30% decrease versus the outgoing Morgan Roadster, make the car more accessible in overseas markets where taxation is linked to CO2 output.
Craftsmanship, Specification & Pricing
Traditional Morgan values remain crucial to the production of the all-new Plus Four. Every Morgan sports car is built at the company’s Malvern home, and uses time-proven production methods: a hand-made ash frame, hand-beaten aluminium panels and hand-trimmed leather interior. Craftsmanship is, and continues to be, at the very core of Morgan production, where the ethos of 21st-century coachbuilding is practiced daily.
The Plus Four has an extensive standard specification, which includes features new to the model such as automatic LED front and rear lighting, remote central locking and ABS, as well previously optional items such as power steering, a mohair hood, sun visors and door check straps. All-new optional equipment includes puddle lighting and an in-car audio system with Bluetooth connectivity. In total, one trillion combinations of options are available, allowing the individual desires of every customer to be fulfilled.
The all-new Plus Four is available to order from today (3 March 2020), with customer deliveries commencing during Q2 2020. Prices start at £62,995 inc. VAT in the UK. From launch, the car is available to build to your exact specification on the Morgan Car Configurator .
Show car drive-back
Morgan is a company that thrives when presented with a challenge, and just days before the planned unveiling of the Plus Four at the 2020 Geneva International Motor Show, it was presented with one, when the show was cancelled following the coronavirus outbreak.
An alternative event was planned, to take place at the Morgan factory in Malvern, UK, but the show-stand car needed to be brought back. With only the weekend to spare, and car transporters unable to driven on Sunday in continental Europe, Morgan Head of Design, Jon Wells, and Lead Digital Designer, Michael Smith, were dispatched with immediate effect to drive the car home.
Taking the first available flight to Europe, and armed only with a set of number plates and their overnight bags, the pair tracked down the car, which had just arrived by transporter in Geneva. Battling a variety of weather conditions, and with just enough time in hand to visit some iconic locations along the way, they covered more than 1000 miles as they made their way back to Malvern. The journey was not just an early indication the car’s long-distance touring ability, but a valuable proving of its durability.
Morgan Motor Company Chairman and CEO, Steve Morris, said:
“The all-new Morgan Plus Four represents the very best of the Morgan Motor Company. It features rare craftsmanship, the instantly recognisable Morgan silhouette, and now, industry-leading technology thanks to our CX-Generation aluminium platform and BMW powertrains.
“A fitting successor to one of the world’s longest established nameplates, this new model displays some of the most celebrated key features of our classic range, and strikes the perfect balance between tradition and modernity.
“The all-new Morgan Plus Four represents a four-year development programme, carried out by our world-class design and engineering team.”
Morgan Motor Company Head of Design, Jonathan Wells, said:
“This project has presented Design and Engineering with an incredible task: to protect and preserve our core model’s unique proposition while completely redesigning it.
“Despite the packaging constraints that complex that modern architecture presents, I believe the team have managed to protect what was important – the proportions, the posture, the tradition and the human-mechanical interaction.
“Almost every component has been evaluated and redesigned, and while many of these studies addressed small details, it is the quality and culmination of them that deliver an entirely new Plus Four today.”