First Drive: Morgan’s Plus 4 110 Works Edition is packed with old-school charm

What is it?

Birthdays are always exciting, aren’t they? The celebration of another year passing may, in isolation, seem a bit strange, but it’s something that people across the world take time to make a fuss of.

Racing-inspired wheels feature on the Plus 4
(Morgan)

And Morgan is no different. The Malvern-based manufacturer turns 110 this year, having been established all the way back in 1909. To celebrate the milestone, it has created a range of 110 Anniversary models, bringing specially-selected options and styling touches as no-cost extras to a range of its cars. Here, we’re testing out the Plus 4 model.

What’s new?

The term ‘what’s new?’ is quite a strange one to associate with a Morgan because these cars are built in such traditional ways. But the Plus 4 110 Works Edition does have a range of fitments which differentiate it from the rest of the range. And yes, it still uses ash in its makeup, just like other Morgans.

The 110 Works Edition treatment has been applied to variety of Morgan cars
(Morgan)

You get a Sports ECU map for better performance, as well as a motorsport-inspired exhaust with black ceramic tips. In addition, there are motorsport-style wheels finished in satin grey. The car also has ‘110 Anniversary’ logos stitched into the headrests of the sport seats which are – handily for the UK – now heated.

What’s under the bonnet?

The Plus 4 utilises a Ford-sourced 2.0-litre petrol engine with 154bhp and 201Nm of torque. That may not sound like all that much but, given that the Plus 4 weighs under a ton without fluids, it’s more than enough to get it up to speed quickly enough. In fact, Morgan says it’ll crack 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds, and push on to a 118mph top speed – figures which feel more than accurate from the cockpit

The Plus 4 still uses ash in its design
(Morgan)

Drive is sent to the rear wheels alone via a Mazda five-speed gearbox. Despite the relatively brisk performance, Morgan claims that the Plus 4 will return an impressive 40mpg while emitting 164g/km CO2. Couple this with a 55-litre fuel tank, and you’ve got a car with a very decent touring range, giving you even more time to enjoy the car between trips to the pump.

What’s it like to drive?

Get behind the wheel of the Plus 4 and you’re immediately aware that things aren’t quite as they’d be in a modern roadster. The steering wheel sits right up into your chest while the legs-out driving position feels distinctly different. Turn the key, and you’re met with an old-school exhaust note, with the 2.0-litre engine springing into life with a decent glug of revs to make its presence known.

At slower speeds, the Morgan takes some effort to pilot. The steering is heavy around town, while the ride is easily unsettled. Throw more speed into the mix, however, and the Plus 4 settles down considerably – it’s surprisingly refined on the motorway and will happily barrel along at the legal limit.

Faster corners require plenty of concentration, but there’s loads of grip to be found. The engine loves to rev too, with reasonably long gearing meaning you can exploit the 2.0-litre’s willingness to fire towards the redline whenever you get the chance.

How does it look?

There’s nothing on the road today which comes close to the Plus 4’s styling. It’s why it turns heads wherever it goes and looks just as happy parked up outside the supermarket as it would at the front of the Savoy Hotel. The huge sweeping wheelarches and elongated bonnet look just as good from the inside as they do from the outside – your view out over the front is one you’d struggle to tire of.

The 110 Works treatment only helps the overall effect. Our car came in a grey metallic colour, with contrast satin finish paint used on the bonnet and stone guards. The mesh-covered headlamps finish off the design, as does the new bonnet side vent – a new touch on this celebratory Morgan which you won’t find on other Plus 4 cars.

What’s it like inside?

The cabin of the Plus 4 is snug, but not unpleasantly so. Storage isn’t as much of an issue as you’d expect, with the small area behind the seats more than large enough for two soft weekend bags. Door pockets are ideal for smaller items such as keys and wallets, while the glove compartment can take the rest.

The large wheel sits right up in the driver's chest
(Morgan)

The level of finish is exceptional, though. Hand-stitched leather covers the dashboard, while chrome instrument binnacles toe the line between retro and modern. There’s no radio, but Morgan has thought to include a 12-volt charger so you can charge your devices via an appropriate adaptor.

Roof-up and the cockpit feels smaller again, but it’s not too bad. The wind does tend to rattle the mohair hood though – in our opinion, you’re always better sticking with the roof down, and to hell with the weather.

What’s the spec like?

Keen button-pressers are going to be disappointed in the Plus 4, but a wealth of in-car technology isn’t what the Morgan is about. You get a trip computer – and that’s about it. As we mentioned there’s a 12-volt socket, and heated seats too – the latter of which are surprisingly hot, but ideal for winter time driving.

Mesh-covered headlights add to the car's aesthetic
(Morgan)

However, when it comes to customisation, Morgan has you covered. You can have the Plus 4 finished in pretty much any colour you could think of, with all manner of interior trim finishes available to accompany it.

Verdict

As far as birthday presents go, the Plus 4 110 Works Edition is right up there. The additional extras you get – both visual and mechanical – strengthen it as an overall prospect, and though the driving experience may be distinctly old-school, it’s an immensely enjoyable one and a welcome splash of water to the face of the tech-heavy encounters you’ll have with the vast majority of cars currently on sale today. It’s a smile-inducing car, this – both for the driver and for the people you pass – and it’s tricky to put a price on that, don’t you think?

  • Model as tested: Morgan Plus 4 110 Works Edition
  • Price: £64,995
  • Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
  • Power: 154bhp
  • Torque: 201Nm
  • Max speed: 118mph
  • 0-60mph: 7.3 seconds
  • MPG: 40
  • Emissions: 164g/km CO2
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