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Geneva show: Three new Morgans for Oz

Don’t mention the war: The Morgan Aero Coupe comes from one of the last truly British car companies but is powered by a V8 from German brand BMW.

Expected spring arrival for new Morgan Aero Coupe, Plus 8 and 3.7-litre Roadster

6 Feb 2012

TRADITIONALIST car-maker Morgan has announced details of three new production cars it will wheel out at the Geneva motor show next month, including a coupe-bodied Aero, BMW-powered Plus 8 and a more potent 3.7-litre Roadster.

The British boutique brand made no mention of the concepts it alluded to in an earlier announcement but Morgan has been developing electric vehicles and a diesel-electric hybrid, with the EV project scheduled for completion early this year.

All three of the Geneva-bound production cars are on the agenda for Australia, with Australian Design Rule (ADR) compliance now underway and first deliveries expected in the second half of this year – although it is still too early for indicative pricing.

Rather than reprising the insect-like rear end of its 2005 Aeromax one-off special, the Aero Coupe was inspired by Morgan’s successful GT3 racer and will replace the limited-edition, targa-topped Supersports as Morgan’s flagship model and carry over the BMW-sourced 4.8-litre V8 engine.

Described as “an advanced supercar designed for practical long distance touring”, the Aero Coupe is claimed to offer increased occupant comfort, a large, secure luggage compartment and greater body rigidity.

53 center imageLeft: Morgan Plus 8. Beneath: Roadster 3.7.

The fixed-head cabin offers more refinement, with a large rear windscreen for improved visibility, and Morgan says improvements to the hand-crafted aluminium chassis were developed through research “on the road, the race track and in automotive laboratories”.

Morgan’s traditional wood-framed models are referenced by swathes of ash hardwood on the dashboard and door trims, while double-stitched upholstery of leather and suede-like Alcantara promises a luxurious yet sporting atmosphere.

At the business end behind those slightly cross-eyed headlights, a BMW V8 pumps 270kW of power (291kW with the optional sports exhaust) and 490Nm of torque to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with sport mode.

Automatic variants yield higher performance and lower fuel consumption, with the 0-100km/h dash coming up three tenths quicker at 4.2 seconds and combined fuel consumption being 11.0 litres per 100 kilometres (against 12.1L/100km for the manual).

The automatic transmission’s sport mode will hang on until 6500rpm between gearchanges and blip the throttle on downchanges for a sporty sound and to match engine speed with road speed.

The new Plus 8 revives a nameplate that died in 2003 when the old Rover V8 engine could no longer meet emission standards.

It rides on the same Aero chassis and is powered by the same V8 driveline but wears traditional open-topped Morgan bodywork.

With its heavily louvred aluminium bodywork resulting in weight of just 1100kg, the Plus 8 has a power-to-weight ratio of 264kW per tonne while its modern driveline and chassis promise responsiveness that belies its old-fashioned looks.

Similarly new-age are the standard air-conditioning, power steering, anti-lock brakes and wheel-speed sensors linked to the engine management system – and the Plus 8 will be the only classically-styled Morgan offered with an automatic transmission.

Performance and fuel consumption figures for the Plus 8 are identical to the Aero Supersports.

Meanwhile, the revised six-cylinder Roadster gains Ford’s 3.7-litre ‘Cyclone’ V6 from the Mustang in place of the outgoing 3.0-litre unit.

With 194kW and 352Nm shifting just 950kg of weight through a six-speed manual transmission and limited-slip differential, 0-100km/h comes up in just 4.9 seconds while combined fuel consumption is a reasonable 9.8L/100km.

Air-conditioning is available and a redesigned dashboard features large wood-framed speedometer and rev-counter dials plus digital and analogue displays for other functions, including a lap timer.

Morgan will build four-seat versions of the new Roadster, although they are unlikely to reach Australian shores due to a lack of ADR compliance.

Alongside the three new models – and any as-yet unconfirmed concepts – Morgan will use the Swiss show to display its quirky three-wheeler – for which Morgan has received more than 100 expressions of interest in Australia alone – and a 75th anniversary edition of its classic 1.6-litre 4/4.

The Morgan 4/4 nameplate dates back to 1936.

With much of the British car industry now controlled by overseas companies, Morgan is the largest wholly British-owned car maker and the only one of significant size that is still family-owned as it enters its 103rd year – in the hands of the founder’s third generation, Charles Morgan.

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