Friday 13 January 2017
Morgan is a small British brand well known for its old-school approach to building cars, and the Plus 4 lives up to that reputation. Atop the aluminium chassis sits an ash frame, to which the hand-beaten body panels are attached, and it looks like the sort of car a 1930s squadron leader might have driven.
Under the long, louvred bonnet, however, lies a thoroughly modern 2.0-litre Ford engine and a five-speed manual gearbox built by Mazda – good ingredients in anyone’s book.
Whatever you think of the Morgan’s pre-war looks, there’s no denying the company’s obsessive attention to detail.
Everything fits perfectly and feels substantial, despite the timber framework, and then there are the stunning wire wheels.
The result is a timeless, classic design. There’s almost no visible difference between the original Plus 4 and its modern counterpart, so what you’re buying here is a classic with a warranty. It’s tough to argue with that.
Two-seat sports cars are rarely practical machines and the Plus 4 is no exception. It does have a boot of sorts behind the seats, which is surprisingly capacious and more than capable of taking a couple of soft weekend bags. If you’re looking to pack your holiday suitcases, though, try a 5 Series estate.
If you find packing bags into the Morgan is a bit of a struggle, however, it’s nothing compared with squeezing yourself into the tight cockpit. The car sits low to the ground, and when the roof is up there isn’t much of a door aperture.
But once you’re in, the Morgan is relatively comfortable, if a little snug. The seats are supportive and the roomy footwell means long journeys are nowhere near as intimidating as you might think.
Starting the Morgan is an event in itself, what with the huge starter button and the engine’s thunderous crackle, but it’s nothing compared with the driving experience.
The sports exhaust makes all manner of pops and bangs on the overrun, and the four-cylinder engine howls as the speed rises. The steering wheel, which is a classically British, slim-rimmed affair, feels heavy at low speeds thanks to its lack of assistance, but it isn’t what you’d call precise.
As a result, you can’t place it in quite the way you would like, but even that can’t detract from the brilliant engine. No, it doesn’t have the punch of the V8-engined Plus 8, yet the car weighs very little and still has oodles of performance.
Plus 4s are hardly budget cars, with prices starting from around £40,000 depending on the colour and interior combinations you opt for. They do, however, retain their value, with even 20-year-old cars still going for five-figure sums.
It’s cheaper to run than you might expect, too, as 30mpg fuel economy should be attainable.
Yet the real value is not pecuniary – it’s about the way the Morgan makes you feel. We defy you to get out without a smile on your face, and we doubt you’ll manage a journey where someone doesn’t turn to look at the car as it passes.
The Morgan is not a serious sports car for serious buyers. Instead, it’s a toy, bought for the long summer evenings when you just want a quick blast on a sun-drenched B-road.
Model: Morgan Plus 4
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol, 154bhp and 201Nm torque
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Performance: 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds, 118mph top speed
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