Road test: Morgan Plus Six is fun to drive, but on the right roads

At nearly half a million dirhams, retro-laced roadster is meant for only a select few

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Creating ‘restomods’ is an automotive phenomenon that is fast becoming a craze.

This is a trend whereby modern mechanicals are installed – by specialist garages or savvy DIY mechanics – into an old classic, yielding a car that’s better to drive than the original ever was.

But what if you could buy a brand-new restomod, straight off the showroom floor, that is backed by a 30-month factory warranty? This is essentially what you get in a Morgan.

Founded in 1909, the ultra-niche British sportscar maker has clung to its original recipe more closely than arguably any other marque on the planet. It is almost as though time has stood still for the brand.

The Morgan Plus Six we are reviewing here looks little different to a 1955 Morgan Plus 4, and that is the allure of the retro-laced roadster in an era when virtually all new vehicle offerings appear to be electronics-laden, identikit clones of each other.

Although the Plus Six looks little changed from its seven-decade old ancestor, things are not quite as they seem, as the vehicle is underpinned by a modern aluminium architecture introduced in 2019. The drivetrain is virtually identical to a new BMW Z4. That said, the aluminium bodywork is still cloaked over an ash wood frame, in keeping with Morgan’s traditional construction formula.

Propulsion for the Plus Six is provided by BMW’s lovely B58 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo engine mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic, which slingshots the 1,075kg (minus fluids) Morgan from zero to 100 kph in just 4.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 267 kph … should you have access to a racetrack.

Adding to adrenaline levels, the Plus Six makes do without traction control and stability control – features we nowadays take for granted – so it is all down to the driver to ensure the car does not end up wrapped around a tree or other object.

Virtually everything about driving the Plus Six is a throwback to a bygone era. The push-button door handle reminds me of the archaic Hindustan Ambassador in which I learnt how to drive, while the window opening mechanism (actually, there’s no mechanism) is plain laughable. Using a little knob integrated into it, the window pane slides horizontally. At least in theory. The pane was jammed slightly open in our test car, so there was no way to seal it shut or open it fully. That is old-school British quality control for you.

Once under way, the first thing you need to get used to is having such an expansive bonnet stretched out in front of the windscreen as the seats are perched virtually over the rear axle. Fortunately, the headlamp pods and raised wheel arches are visible from the driver’s seat, making it easy to accurately place the car on the road. On the minus side, the tiny door mirrors are useless, so lane-changes are largely an exercise in guesswork.

Tap into the grunt of the BMW-sourced turbo motor and you instantly discover that this is a genuinely fast car. It is also notable is that the B58 engine sounds far better in the Morgan than in any BMW offering. It rises from a deep bassy rumble to a cultured rasp as you work through the rev range.

The specs

Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo (BMW B58)
Power: 340hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 500Nm from 1,600-4,500rpm
Transmission: ZF 8-speed auto
0-100kph: 4.2sec
Top speed: 267kph

On sale: Now
Price: From Dh462,189
Warranty: 30-month/48,000k

The Plus Six is ultralight and has a low centre of gravity, which is favourable for its dynamics as there is minimal inertia for the chassis and brakes to overcome. The Morgan feels taut and agile up to a point, but there is a slight disconnect between car and driver, and it is unsettled by mid-corner bumps, so you may not be inclined to push it to the ragged edge. As mentioned earlier, there is no electronic safety net to rescue you if you get it all wrong.

The charismatic Morgan is fun to drive on the right roads and it elicited more thumbs-ups and approving stares from other motorists and bystanders than any supercar I’ve driven over the years. On the flip side, it is noisy, harsh-riding and awkward to clamber in and out of, so only masochists will entertain the thought of using it as a daily driver. Build quality is also patchy, so parting with half a million dirhams for the Plus Six will make sense to only a select few.

Updated: January 03, 2024, 7:20 AM
The specs

Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo (BMW B58)
Power: 340hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 500Nm from 1,600-4,500rpm
Transmission: ZF 8-speed auto
0-100kph: 4.2sec
Top speed: 267kph

On sale: Now
Price: From Dh462,189
Warranty: 30-month/48,000k