Road Test: Morgan 3 Wheeler 2.0 V-Twin Sport Reviews 2021 | Top Gear
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First Drive

Road Test: Morgan 3 Wheeler 2.0 V-Twin Sport

£ 31,140 when new
810
Published: 01 Dec 2012
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SPEC HIGHLIGHTS

  • BHP

    80bhp

  • C02

    215g/km

  • Max Speed

    115Mph

  • Insurance
    group

    N

It’s not like anything else, this Morgan. But you knew that already, just by looking at the pictures. Pictures that, if we’re honest, give a very good indication of what to expect from this car. It’s small, it’s spindly, it has no weather protection, you can even see what sort of engine it has, because it wears the V-twin on the outside.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing else you need to know about it. Plenty of questions still have to be answered: do you have to drive it differently? Will it fall over? Is it half-motorbike, half-car? What rivals is it up against?

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Let’s deal with that one first, because it’s an easy one to answer. It doesn’t have any. Yes, you can point to the similar lack of weather protection offered by an Ariel Atom or KTM X-Bow, but those are track cars, built for speed. The Morgan plainly isn’t. Not with those front wheels. Welcome then, not to a car as such, but a driving experience. Preferably in sepia tone, accompanied by pipe, twirly moustache, Terry-Thomas and the word ‘bounder’.

Three-wheelers went out of fashion when Reliant got involved, and Morgan hasn’t built a new one since 1953. Resurrecting it wasn’t entirely the Malvern firm’s own idea, either. An American firm called Liberty Motors built a handful of recreations broadly based on the original; Morgan went to see them, came away impressed, bought the company and set about bringing it back into production. According to designer Jon Wells, “There are no parts of the Liberty within this vehicle, but a lot of inspiration has been taken from it.”

The basics are as follows. It uses a tubular steel chassis, cloaked with hand-beaten aluminium panels (mounted on an ash wood frame, natch). The engine is an 1800cc Harley V-Twin, tweaked by specialists S&S to deliver about 120bhp, which is oodles in a car that weighs less than half a tonne and puts it all on the road through one less tyre than normal.

Only it’s not a car, it’s classified as a motor-tricycle, which means it gets to dodge some legislation. Including the bit that concerns crash testing. Hmm. Anyway, the gearbox is from a car, a five-speed manual nabbed from a Mazda MX-5, it’s got twin fuel tanks that promise a 400-mile range (although fuel economy hasn’t yet been calculated), and although the seats are fixed in one position, a few minutes with a spanner will move the pedal box.

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There’s not much else in the cabin other than a speedo and a rev-counter inspired by classic aircraft instruments, and a starter button from an actual aircraft – hidden under a flap between the dials is the bomb-release button from a Eurofighter Typhoon. Production versions will get storage nets, there’s some more space under the rear deck around the wheel, and Morgan is thinking fitted cases and luggage racks, plus a whole raft of clothing and graphic accessories.

Enough of that; time to drive. So you slot yourself in, the car dipping slightly as you step over. Small, narrow, plump-ish seat, large steering wheel, seat belts pull out from centre, elbow naturally overhangs. It’s small, but two will fit without looking overly chummy. Press that Eurofighter button and you don’t so much hear the V2 as feel it as those two generous pistons punch vigorously up and down. The Morgan shakes. You shake. Blurred vision surely isn’t far away. 

Once the revs pick up, the vibrations subside. Morgan claims to have done a lot of damping work, and oddly I’m glad they haven’t done more. The slow plub-plub-plub of the engine (2,000rpm feels like 50rpm) gives it so much character. This car makes you smile even before you go anywhere. And it makes other people smile. It’s perfectly simple to drive, too. Throttle’s a bit stiff, but the Mazda gearbox is a honey, so getting it going is no trouble at all.

How fast is it? Well, Morgan claims a 0–60mph of 4.5secs. I’m not sure it’s quite that fast, but I am absolutely sure that it’s as fast as it needs to be for something that looks and feels this spindly. This isn’t a track-day terroriser, it’s something to pop around the countryside in, and it does that with great distinction. The torque-rich V2 pulls lustily from 2,000rpm, but the game’s up by about 5,000rpm. Between those two points, you’ll have been assaulted by enough noise and wind to convince yourself you’re travelling twice as fast as you actually are.

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Which is just as well considering the 3 Wheeler isn’t the most grippy thing around corners. A problem? Absolutely not – once again, I point you to my comments about this not being something that should ever visit Silverstone. Those front wheels come complete with period Avon tyres that are just four inches wide, so try to yank it into a corner like a hot hatch and it’ll just understeer. The rear tyre is a normal 195/55 R16 – so about eight inches wide. A quick bit of TG maths proves that eight equals four times two, so grip levels are actually verywell balanced front to rear.

And this means it drives like a normal car. It’s stable and planted, doesn’t wag a wheel in the air or heel dramatically over; in fact, it stays impressively level around corners, and although the thin tyres mean the unassisted steering doesn’t provide that much feedback and the unassisted brakes need a heck of a shove before anything happens, you get used to that.

It’s an easy car to get on with. Right up to the point you congratulate yourself for straddling that massive pothole with the front wheels only to be practically bounced out of the car as the rear drops straight in. If there’s one thing that takes some getting used to, it’s remembering where that rear wheel goes. Three wheels messes with you brain. And your heart. TopGear wants one.

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