New car reviews

Morgan Plus Six: Timeless Looks, State-of-the-Art Drive

by Nik Berg
10 June 2024 3 min read
Morgan Plus Six: Timeless Looks, State-of-the-Art Drive

Overtaking opportunities are rare on the B-roads that wend their way through the Wye Valley. Here on the border between England and Wales, a region that literally prompted the very first use of the word “picturesque,” finding a straight with sufficient visibility and length to safely pass a car ahead requires patience.

Since collecting this Morgan Plus Six from the factory, its BMW TwinPower engine has barely been tempted above tickover. The eight-speed automatic upshifts to the highest gear appropriate to road speed as I meander through the country lanes. Even so, I find myself catching up to a couple of cars that are nowhere near troubling the speed limit.

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A press of the Sport + button immediately adds an eagerness to the throttle, and I slot the gear selector over to allow the use of the paddle shifters in anticipation of a possible passing shot. It comes as I round a right-hander, so I nudge the left paddle down a couple of clicks and floor it.

What follows is quite the surprise. For me – and the two dawdlers that I fly past. The acceleration is, frankly, brutal and really quite incongruous with the Morgan’s outward appearance. Then there’s the noise. A whoosh of turbos spooling up, a pop from the exhaust between upshifts, and a crackle on the overrun as I back off.

I’d experienced some of this in the Plus Four last year, but in the Six everything is cranked up above and beyond any expectation you might have from looking at it.

The styling is as traditional as ever. The flowing curves are hand-formed over an ash frame, using tools that haven’t changed for 70 years. It’s 10 cm wider than the Plus Four, to accommodate a greater track and bigger 18-inch standard alloy wheels, or 19-inch optional rims (the Plus Four runs 15-inchers). The Six also has a pair of extra driving lamps and is yet to benefit from the latest tweaks to the Four, which house indicators within the main lamp units and simplify the rear end with two instead of four taillights.

The cabin is pleasingly minimalist, with a flat painted dash, a lovely wooden centre console, hand-trimmed leather, and deep wool carpets. A small digital screen is a little out of place, but the other analog instruments are spot on. Morgan’s own aluminium buttons look great, but the BMW parts are a bit of a letdown. It’s a necessary evil, of course, but the shiny gear selector, column stalks, and fixed paddles distract from an otherwise wonderfully hand-made feel.

On the plus (sorry) side, the BMW powertrain is a belter. With an extra two cylinders and 80 more horses over the Plus Four (for a total of 335) the Plus Six shaves a full second off the 0–62 mph acceleration time, bringing it down to just 4.2 seconds. Top speed increases from 149 mph to 166.

The truth is it feels even faster than that. The Plus Four I drove in the mountains of Switzerland was on winter tyres, which squirmed under full load, while the Six is shod with sticky Continentals and never seems to struggle to put its power down, or trouble the now-standard ESC system.

The AP Racing brakes are superb, and so is the way the car whips through winding roads on revised bushes and dampers. Even with the heft of the bigger engine, the Plus Six only weighs 1,114 kg dry, and that gives it impressive agility through rapid direction changes. The steering is quick and decently feelsome too, loading up appropriately as the cornering forces increase.

Specs: 2024 Morgan Plus Six

  • Price: £93,603
  • Powertrain: 3.0-litre fuel-injected, BMW TwinPower six-cylinder; 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Output: 335 bhp @ 6500 rpm; 369 lb-ft
  • Layout: Rear-wheel-drive, two-door, two-passenger convertible
  • Fuel Economy: 38 mpg
  • Competitors: none

It’s a far cry from the last big-motor Morgan I drove. That was a Plus Eight, equipped with a 3.9-litre Rover V8, and despite having only around 200 horsepower it was a wildly different ride, lacking the braking or cornering ability to match its straight-line speed. There was scuttle shake, a shocking ride quality, and attempting to drive it quickly was a white-knuckled, sweaty-palmed experience.

Some 30 years later, it’s only to be expected that the Plus Six is a marked improvement, but still its dynamic ability and outright performance are remarkable. Underneath that timeless body truly sits a modern sports car.

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