Morgan Aero 8 reviewed

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The Morgan Aero 8 from the side

A new version of a much-loved classic Morgan combines character, charm and master craftsmanship, along with a welcome dash of British eccentricity, writes Tiff Needell

So Brexit will become a reality and, listening to the tidings of doom, you might be thinking the world is collapsing around us and foreign investment will vanish along with our car production. But fear not – whatever happens, we’ll still have Morgan!

Morgan is the world’s oldest privately owned car manufacturer, family owned and British – very British! It all started in 1909 when Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan began building cars which were, to put it bluntly, one wheel short of a full set. It wasn’t until 1936 that Morgan produced its first proper car, the 4/4, which this year celebrates an unbroken 80-year production run.

The company still makes three-wheelers as well if you want slow yet eccentric motoring thrills, and you can buy a 4/4 for as little as £35,400. As Morgan marketing moves into the modern world, you no longer have to wait two years to own one. But if you fancy something more exciting than a 110bhp four cylinder then the flagship Aero 8 is the model for you.

The original Aero 8 first arrived in 2000 but, after four generations of gradual development, production ceased in 2008, as the company focused on more exotic coupés such as its AeroMax, before being relaunched as the Aero 8 last year. Never likely to win a beauty contest with its cross-eyed, concave front end, the Aero 8 is nevertheless eccentrically English in style.

As with all Aero 8s the new fifth generation has a V8 BMW powerplant under its long bonnet as the company says goodbye to the iconic Rover V8 used in its Plus 8 models since 1968. Connected to BMW’s smooth six-speed manual gearbox with a limited slip differential and no traction control, the 367bhp is as lively as you’d wish.

Morgan’s success comes from sticking to traditional coachbuilding. While the Aero 8 replaced the 4/4’s steel chassis with an aluminium one it retained the beautifully crafted ash wood frame construction that supports the body. The result? A car that weighs just 1,150kg.

The latest Aero 8 has a much stiffer chassis than its predecessors and refined suspension has reduced the body-roll and sharpened its handling. The removable mohair roof can be stashed away out of site for the true sportscar look and there’s plenty of room for storage inside the clamshell boot.

You could waste £2,495 on an automatic six-speed, but flappy panels are as out of place in a Morgan as a mid-engined layout would be. You might spend £6,495 on a carbon-fibre hard top which you’d have to leave behind if you took it off – although you’d still have the soft top ready for any rain.

I would be tempted to part with £2,795 for a performance pack that adds red brake callipers, a gloss black diffuser and side-exit exhausts for the optimum sound effect.

One thing that even the shock of Brexit can’t alter though is the value of a Morgan – beautifully hand-crafted in the Malvern Hills of Worcestershire and ready to blow all your worries away.

morgan-motor.co.uk

Morgan Aero 8

Top speed 170mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds

Engine 4.8 litre V8 petrol generating 367bhp
Gearbox six-speed manual

Economy 23mpg
Price £88,194

Performance 8/10
Performance 8/10

Handling 8/10
Economy 7/10

Comfort 7/10
Quality 9/10

Desirability 8/10

Morgan Aero 8 Gallery

See the Morgan Aero 8 in action here 

About author

Tiff Needell

Tiff Needell

Tiff Needell is a former Grand Prix driver who spent most of his professional career racing in the World Sportscar Championship including 14 Le Mans 24 Hour races where he had a best result of third in 1990. He is however perhaps better known as a former presenter of Top Gear throughout the nineties and then helped to create ‘Fifth Gear’ which enters its 14th year in 2015. Tiff recently wrote his autobiography Tiff Gear, is Director magazine’s columnist, races whenever the opportunity arises and has now rejoined Clarkson, co-presenting at Top Gear Live.

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