After an absence of almost a decade, the Morgan Plus 8 reappeared as a new and fully-fledged model at the Geneva motor show earlier this year. It's making a UK debut at today's Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Two versions of the new ‘classic’ Morgan have been created: the production version, powered by BMW’s 4.8-litre normally aspirated V8, and an all-electric prototype christened ‘Plus-e’, built to gauge public reaction before a decision is made on production.
The production Plus 8 slots back into Malvern Link’s showroom range underneath Morgan’s all-aluminium ‘Aero’-series flagship cars, and above the six-cylinder Morgan Roadster. Morgan development engineer Robert Gibson told Autocar “it’s a car customers have wanted us to build for ten years,” since the introduction of the Aero models.
The new Plus 8 uses the same bonded and riveted aluminium chassis as the more expensive Aero cars, rather than the galvanized steel ladder chassis of Morgan’s Roadster and Plus 4. The classic-style body, though, is lighter than the Aero’s, allowing for a lesser kerbweight – just 1100kg without fluids.
Morgan describes the new Plus 8 as its “most comfortable classic model”. It comes as standard with air conditioning, a leather upholstered cockpit, a high quality audio system and a double-lined convertible roof. The car’s V8 engine, available from the factory with as much as 390bhp, can also be teamed with an optional six-speed torque converter automatic transmission. Both manual and auto versions of the car hit 62mph in just 4.5sec; the automatic is marginally the more frugal, returning 26mpg on the combined cycle.
Although the Plus-e electric sports car is a prototype, Morgan chief designer Matt Humphries says “we’re developing the idea for production as soon as possible,” provided reaction is positive. At the moment the prototype runs with a Valence li-ion battery, which adds more weight than Morgan would like – it’s 150kg heavier than the petrol powertrain. Morgan is contemplating commissioning its own battery pack instead. The Zytek motor offers 163bhp and even in prototype form its range is said to be 120 miles. “It’s a working car with a usable range,” Humphries says. “You just charge it up and go for a blast.”