What’s most notable about the performance of the Morgan 3 Wheeler is not how much it has, but how it’s delivered.

Thumb the starter button and the S&S motor spins lazily as it tries to bring to life two cylinders that displace a litre each, the flywheel and the rotational damper. It usually takes a few seconds to start, upon which you’re rewarded with fulsome, lumpy and delightfully characterful ‘whumps’ as the motor idles.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The Morgan 3 Wheeler's a delightful thing to drive, although ultimately not very fast

Throttle response is terrific: not too frantic, not too lazy. There’s a tendency for motorbike-derived motors to have hyperactive reactions, but the size and configuration of the Morgan engine help it to avoid such traits. It spins with just the kind of response you’d want and is lively to a tickle of the throttle, but with enough inertia to resist stalling when you let the clutch out to get moving.

The clutch is well weighted and the five-speed gearshift slick, as you’d expect from an MX-5 unit. The Morgan licks along at a healthy pace given that it totes only 82bhp, assisted by the fact that it doesn’t weigh much more than half a tonne.

Its track acceleration figures show that it’s slower than most of its rivals – a 0-60mph time of 6.0sec wouldn’t have a warm hatch writing home these days – but the Morgan feels livelier than that. It’s always eager, always keen, and seems to have oomph in reserve at any point in its rev band. It’ll roll along at 80mph or more with no worries and was always as fast as we felt we wanted it to be. 

And all the while it’s an utterly charming powerplant. The heady thrum of the V-twin engine when you work it, particularly the exhaust burble on the overrun and between shifts, is magical.

Meanwhile, not being particularly fast means that it’s possible to enjoy more of the 3 Wheeler’s performance for longer; in the same way that a 1.6-litre Caterham 310 is the most appealing in the range, you feel like you’re getting the best that the Morgan has to offer on almost any given road with a national speed limit.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week