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Wait: that’s a new Morgan?
See, those archaically styled panels sit atop similar underpinnings to that new car. Morgan’s more sophisticated aluminium chassis eschews the need for tree-felling, while a BMW-sourced 4.8-litre V8 engine provides more than ample power to the rear wheels.
How much, exactly?
But then look closely and assess what you can’t see; a windscreen and roof are conspicuous by their absence, as is much beyond heated leather seats in the way of creature comforts. This Plus 8 Speedster is Morgan going all GT3 RS on us, and as a result, this is a V8-powered sports car weighing around 1100kg. That’s near Cayman GT4 power in something the weight of a Fiesta.
And try 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds without a windscreen and you’ll deem it fast enough. Especially with not a single bit of electric jiggery pokery between its 367 horses and the rear tyres, which on our test car, were some very track-biased Yokohamas. It’s the kind of recipe we’ve not really seen since the heyday of TVR.
Weren’t TVRs a bit, er, animalistic to drive?
They certainly were. And unsurprisingly, this Speedster will indulge informed bravery or punish clumsy stupidity in a similarly stark manner.
But there’s a far friendlier edge to it. Start getting too greedy with the throttle pedal - and in the light wintry conditions we were ‘blessed’ with, that could include fourth-gear half-throttle in a straight line - and you’ll receive progressive warning signs from the rear axle. With über-crisp throttle response and feelsome steering, accurate reactions to this are easy.
And with nothing between your ears and the car’s key sounds but air, your awareness of its behaviour changes are heightened. You’ll also revel in rifling up and down its six gears, the engine’s cacophony of pops and crackles supremely addictive and the manual shift (ignore the optional auto, we implore you) providing genuine physical pleasure to your lower arm.
Yep. The satisfaction lies in the mechanicals. Based on Morgan’s newer chassis, this is a good thing to drive, even if the wheels are somewhat short of travel over bumpy roads. It can’t trickle down a challenging road with the ease of an Elise, but then an Elise doesn’t have a drivetrain as supreme as this. Pick any gear at just about any speed and this V8 just oozes torque, happy to rev to its limits or easy as pie to stroke effortlessly along. Spec the £1400 side-exit exhausts (you must) and it’s one of the finest exemplars of eight-cylinder soundtracks on sale.
There’s a cruise control system fitted, and while it may appear completely superfluous in a luxury-stripped Morgan, it becomes rather handy for keeping things sane on the motorway.
The motorway? Surely this is just a B-road and trackday sort of car?
It is, but it’s a perfectly comfortable way to travel between those places. So long as you prepare. We survived sub-zero commuting in it, but it required clever use of layers and studious use of a helmet. Suitably wrapped and snuggled in, though, it’s a genuinely cosy place to be. And you’ll bring ceaseless amusement to those in the cars around you.
£70,000 is a lot.
It certainly is. It’s a Cayman GT4 with a few tasty options. Or a used Lamborghini Gallardo. But then neither of those will be anywhere near as beguiling as the Speedster. And neither will win you as many admiring glances or off-the-cuff petrol forecourt conversations.
There are few cars as raucous and anti-socially vocal that we’ve attracted not a single negative reaction in. And it provides as much, if not more joy for those sat inside. It may be Morgan’s silliest car, but it’s arguably its best.