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Speed Week 2020

Speed Week 2020: nine things to know about the Morgan Plus Four

Quicker than a Supra and a production process with pizza as a by-product. Yum

  • It shares its engine with the new BMW 128ti

    Morgan has bought in BMW engines for years, but this is the first time its four-cylinder car has its heart imported from Munich. It’s also Morgan’s first 4cyl turbo, and the engine will be familiar to anyone who’s driven a modern BMW or Mini.

    A 2.0-litre unit used in the Mini Cooper S, most 1 and 3 Series and even lower-rung Z4s and Toyota Supras, it’s present here in 255bhp tune. Mate it to the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox – also shipped in from BMW – and you get 295lb ft of torque. Figures that all but match the new BMW 128ti hot hatch, as well as the Z4 sDrive30i and entry-level Supra.

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  • But it’s quicker than them all

    With the Morgan’s skinny 1009kg to shift (oddly, it’s 4kg lighter as an auto…) this is the only place that engine delivers a sub-five second 0-62mph time. The Plus Four manages 4.9secs on its way to a 149mph top speed, where the Supra claims 5.2secs and the 128ti another second more.

    Sure, the Morgan is 6mph behind them all . Probably more, in reality, as the turbulence flapping around its plastic side screens will probably cause you to call time before its official vmax. But these are all dinky sports cars, not autobahn stormers. And the Morgan’s more sprightly acceleration – and complete lack of driver assistance systems bar ABS – will perk you up way more each morning.

  • There are over a trillion ways of speccing it

    While Morgan’s configurator gives you some suggested specs – and a walk through the factory reveals a wealth of navy, cream and British racing green – you’re encouraged to go bespoke. Indeed, almost every Morgan is unique. And with colour-to-sample costing £995 (where more standard options are £695) it’d be rude to not go a bit wild. Like we have with the Top Gear Garage’s new Plus Four…

    Speccing one is an all-consuming process, with so many combinations of leather, hood, wood and carpet colour long before you’ve dipped your toe in the water of contrast stitching, exterior black packs or whether to eschew the cool standard alloys for traditional wire wheels.

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  • Those alloys are inspired by the Jaguar D-Type

    But the inside of the rim, not the outer face. Tasked with coming up with an alloy wheel to sit on the car as standard – but perhaps to convince buyers to spend another grand (or two) for the wire wheels – design boss Jon Wells and his team looked to a Fifties racecar for inspiration.

    Not a surprise, when a company’s cars look as classic as Morgan’s. But the fact the wheel you see here was inspired by the dished inside of the D-Type’s steelies might be. You can have them in black, but we’d stay silver for peak retro vibes.

  • The Plus Four still uses plenty of wood

    In fact, a little more than ever. An ash frame will sit at the core of Morgan’s models for as long as it remains feasible. The engineers refer to it as a coat hanger, upon which they drape all the aluminium panels, hand beating and shaping many of them while they’re attached to the car.

    With the latest Plus Four’s relative onslaught of technology, some of the wood’s even swelled. The doors now house central locking and puddle lighting, calling for thicker frames.

  • One tree = 40 Plus Fours

    Morgan claims up to 40 frames can be yielded from one ash tree. And the inevitable offcuts? They’re either taken home by factory workers to feed their fires at home or kept aside to be fed into the wood-fired pizza oven Morgan’s about to stoke up in its visitor centre restaurant. Anchovies and mushrooms on ours, please.

  • It’s going to be Morgan’s bestseller

    Morgan still makes the little V-twin powered 3 Wheeler, as well as the Supra-powered Plus Six roadster. The Plus Four sits in the middle of them price-wise and accounts for the vast majority of the Malvern carmaker’s sales. When the production line reaches its peak, Morgan will make around 20 each week, or 800-900 per year.

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  • It takes a month to build each Plus Four

    The build process is nuanced and dictated by how bespoke you’ve gone. Weirder colours or more intricate stitching will give you a longer wait time. But factor on four weeks – and a smidge under 10,000 minutes – of handcrafting to turn your configurator dreams into wood ‘n’ ally reality.

  • And Top Gear is running one

    Getting a Morgan delivered for daily use in an especially stormy October could verge on madness. But as Speed Week 2020 proved, we’re possessing of said madness. And not scared of getting a bit wet.

    So follow the adventures of the Top Gear Garage Plus Four, and tell us if there’s anything you want to see us do with the car…

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