Future-proofed and now with BMW straight-six power, the Plus Six speaks fluent 21st century. By Ben Miller.
Morgan’s all-new aluminium platform represents much more than simply the structure that’ll underpin its next generation of flagship four-wheelers – it’s also nothing less than the Malvern maker embracing modernity in all its efficient, repeatable, future-ready and now exclusively metric glory. And for a team of 30, operating on a ‘frugal’ budget and given just three years, that’s no mean feat.
‘With the new CX-Generation platform it was also about modernising the way in which we do things,’ explains Morgan’s chief engineer John Beech. ‘It was about using common parts where possible, streamlining the build process on the shop floor, improving cleanliness, reducing waste and future-proofing both the car and our production methods. For 70, 80 years now we’ve had a mixed bag of [metric and imperial] fittings, which is both inefficient and challenging from a supply point of view.’ The car spearheading this new era is the new Plus Six, which combines the new bonded aluminium platform with BMW’s B58 turbocharged straight-six, driving through an eight-speed ZF gearbox offering paddleshift manual shifting. Ride and handling promise to be a significant step forward over previous Morgans, not least because the new chassis has twice the torsional rigidity of its predecessor for a comparable weight of just 98kg. Performance will be scorching: 335bhp in a car weighing just 1075kg. (Alpine’s equally light A110 has just 248bhp.)
While the powertrain ECU is BMW, the CX-Generation electronics platform is Morgan’s own work, and as crucial to meeting the future-proofing brief as the Plus Six’s relatively modest emissions (170g/km CO2). ‘Looking ahead, to things like lane detection, we now have the potential to develop on the electronics side,’ continues Beech. ‘On the Plus Six we don’t have traction control, for example, but we’ll get there. On this car it didn’t make the cut in terms of budget – you’re talking millions of euros. And without it the car’s all the more fun to drive.’
In comes 21st century thinking and power, but the ash frame lives on
ALUMINIUM & ASH
HOW IT WORKS
A MODERN MORGAN
Previously, Morgans used a mix of imperial and metric fasteners. Plus Six is all metric, while its Morgan-developed electronics architecture is ready for such niceties as lane-keep assist in the future. Lightweight suspension uses cast aluminium wishbones and coilovers.
Ash frame had to stay, given it’s synonymous with the marque. ‘It does bring some additional rigidity, and the material’s properties are helpful in terms of impact protection,’ says chief engineer John Beech.
New chassis liberates 200mm more legroom and a one-third increase in luggage capacity for a modest 20mm stretch in the wheelbase. At the same time the steering wheel (steering is electrically power-assisted) gets adjustment for rake and reach.
Turbo B58 six brings serious performance for a car weighing 1075kg dry. 335bhp and 369lb ft would feel fit in a 3-series – in the featherweight, traction control-free Plus Six it’s good for 0-62mph in 4.2sec. And a very flappy scarf.
100% MORE RIGID
Morgan’s previous aluminium tub used 3mm and 4mm sheet. The sheet metal in the new CX-Generation platform is half as thick, but delivers twice the rigidity for the same weight – around 98kg.