The Morgan Motor Company introduced 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. 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 Morgan 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. The Morgan 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.
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 (400Nm) 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.
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 (7.0l/100km), and a reduction in CO2 to just 159g/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.
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 Morgan 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.
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.
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