Morgan will reveal the all-new, second-generation 3 Wheeler on 24 February ahead of a market launch later this year.
The reinvented roadster will be a thoroughly modern machine using the same advanced aluminium chassis technology as the new Plus Four and Plus Six roadsters, but will still feature a design Morgan describes as "bold and eccentric" with a technical front end and a "fluid form". It will be Morgan's first all-new design since the Aero 8 sports car was unveiled in 2000.
Morgan claims the 3 Wheeler will offer the same raw driving experience as the outgoing 10-year-old model. The new 3 Wheeler’s most visible – and initially most controversial – change entails ditching the old S&S-sourced air-cooled 2.0-litre V-twin engine in favour of a normally aspirated, longitudinally mounted version of Ford’s considerably more refined 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit, as used by the Fiesta ST hot hatchback.
The change is likely to result in a dramatic boost in performance, since the V-twin produced barely 80bhp (because of punitive exhaust emissions restrictions) whereas the Ford unit should be good for 120-130bhp (it runs to 197bhp with a turbocharger in the hot Fiesta), although Morgan isn’t yet confirming its precise output.
The power-to-weight ratio should be impressive: Autocar understands Morgan engineers are using the outgoing model’s sub-500kg kerb weight as a target for the new one.
Like the old car, the new 3 Wheeler will be rear driven, with the nose-mounted engine sending power through a five-speed Mazda MX-5 gearbox to a bevel box behind the cockpit, and then to the single rear wheel via a toothed belt.
Morgan managing director Steve Morris said: “We see the new 3 Wheeler as an opportunity to offer existing loyal customers a vehicle that they can enjoy every bit as today’s, but it will [also] allow us to target a wider group of potential owners.