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Morgan Aero 8 Car Review | August 10, 2007

Driven August 2007

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Apparently, you need to sell about 6,000 cars in the UK before people will actually see one. There's a complicated formula behind this, involving population, amount of UK roads and overall car sales, which I don't understand.

But the point is that this makes it highly unlikely that you'll have seen a Morgan Aero 8, because fewer than 600 have been sold since its launch in 2003. And that's a worldwide figure.

This might be regarded as a blessing given that the Aero 8 has never been considered an attractive car. Beauty is, of course, bound up with subjectivity, but most agreed that the goggle-eyed face was due largely to those headlights.

Morgan was aware of the problem, and has fixed it with this updated Aero 8. The VW Beetle lights have been replaced with Mini ones, which strangely is what Morgan wanted in the first place. But the Aero was launched before the first Mini, so BMW was reluctant to let its new headlights appear elsewhere first.

It's still retro (new headlights won't disguise the running boards), but the overall look is better, even if overtones of Huggy Bear in tweed remain. As for the ruddy-faced, silver-haired souls that wink and nod as you pass; well, if you will buy a Morgan...

But this car doesn't deserve to be slated. Sure, the driving experience is always going to be an acquired taste, but this Aero 8 requires less adjustment and compromise than the traditional 4/4.

The highlight's still the BMW-sourced 4.4-litre V8. Morgan is rightly proud of the fact that it's managed to secure this engine - drive it and you'll understand why. The noise is simply fantastic. The side exit pipes mean that it burbles away just below you, so when you accelerate you get the full experience. I could accelerate and slow down all day, just to listen to it.

The key to this is that it lends the Morgan more character than other V8-powered cars, plus it's incredibly tractable. The Aero 8 only weighs 1,145kg, thanks to plenty of aluminium, so it pulls cleanly and hard and revs really easily.

Of course, the Aero 8 isn't to everyone's taste. The steering could do with more accuracy on the initial turn-in, the floor-mounted pedals take a bit of getting used to and the styling is still eccentric. But it would be a sad day indeed if cars like this stopped being built. Even if you never see them.

Piers Ward

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