Replaces the Plus 8 with a new platform and a new six-cylinder from BMW

The 2020 Morgan Plus Six is a retro-styled, two-door, two-seat roadster built by Morgan Motor Company. Unveiled at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, the Plus Six replaces the Plus 8, a roadster that Morgan last introduced in 2012. Although it looks a lot like its predecessor, the Plus Six stands out thanks to an optional hard-top, new technology, and for being the company’s first vehicle with a turbocharged engine.

The Plus Six is also Morgan’s first brand-new model in a very long time. While the Aero and the Plus 4 date back to 2001 and 2005, the Plus 8 and 3-Wheeler were redesigned most recently in 2012. This makes the Plus Six the first brand-new Morgan in seven years. If we don’t count the EV3, an electric version of the 3-Wheeler, launched in 2016. What’s this new model all about? Let’s find out in the review below.

Exterior

  • Almost identical to Plus 8
  • Extra vents in the hood
  • Revised rear end
  • New wheel options
  • Standard soft-top
  • Optional hard-top
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The Plus Six is almost identical to the Plus 8 as far as exterior design goes

The Plus Six may be described as a brand-new vehicle, but it’s actually almost identical to the Plus 8 as far as exterior design goes. It takes a really close look to notice the mild changes that Morgan made with this redesign.

Up front, we can notice the same trademark design that Morgan has been using since the Plus 8 was introduced in the late 1960s. The Plus Six features the radiator grille that’s rounded at the top and arched toward the engine hood and the same fenders that wrap around the wheels but connect to the grille frame in a more modern fashion.

Even the lighting setup is similar, with three pair of lights on each side of the grille. The main headlamps sit the highest in the fascia, while the foglamps are placed closer to the grille, but at the bottom. Below the headlamps we can see the classic orange turn signals in a round design. Compared to the Plus 8, the Plus Six has slightly smaller foglamps, while the headlamps have LED strips in the center. When turned on, they look like headlamps of WW2 military vehicles, which featured metal caps that left just the center section exposed. The Plus Six also has automatic headlamps, the first Morgan with such a features as standard.

2019 Morgan Plus Six
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The engine hood retains the familiar shape of classic roadsters from the 1930s

The exposed apron beneath the license place is also virtually identical to the outgoing model. It has a rounded off trapezoidal shape with the narrow section at the bottom and the same rectangular cutout in the center plus round holes on the sides. The engine hood retains the familiar shape of classic roadsters from the 1930s, with two lids hinged at the center and a V shape toward the nose. The only subtle changes are the extra vents on the sides, which provide extra cooling into the new engine.

The profile is again very similar to the old Plus 8. The front fenders are identical, as are the clean side skirts that can also act as steps to get into the car. The rear fenders carry over with their rounded design that becomes sleeker toward the rear. The only notable difference I can notice is the reshaped decklid that no longer has a completely flat area for the soft-top. The windscreen is pretty much the same and I like that Morgan kept the three-wiper design. It’s definitely exotic for 2019.

The rear fascia boasts a few minor changes. By far the most noticeable modification is the spare wheel cover that now features small louvers. The round taillights are in the same position, but Morgan made slight changes to the orange and red plastic lenses that cover the turn and brake lights. The smaller red lights seen on recent Plus 8 models are gone. Finally, Morgan moved the tailpipes closer to each other and added a casing for the exhaust system right under the rear apron.

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The hard-top is optional on all trims but the Touring version, which comes standard with the removable roof

The Plus Six also has a longer wheelbase than the Plus 8. However, Morgan added only 0.8 inches, so it doesn’t really look longer overall.

Arguably the most important add-on for the Plus Six is the lightweight composite hard-top. Offered for the very first time on a Morgan outside the Aero lineup, the hard-top transforms the roadster into an authentic road racer, a design inspired by 1960s sports cars. With the top up, the Plus Six not only looks more dynamic, but it also benefits from the aerodynamics of a proper coupe.

The hard-top is optional on all trims but the Touring version, which comes standard with the removable roof. You can order the top in Morgan’s Sport Ivory color or have it painted to match the car’s exterior color. As before, you can also have the Plus Six with a retractable soft-top. The more expensive Touring trim also comes with a luggage rack and driving spot lights as standard. Morgan now also offers 19-inch multi-spoke wheels if the standard rims don’t suit you.

Interior

  • Still similar to the Plus 8
  • New features
  • New materials
  • Digital display in the dashboard
  • Redesigned center stack
  • Authentic wood trim
  • Sculpted door panels
  • Sporty seats
  • Enhanced legroom
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Vital information is displayed on an LCD screen between the clocks

The interior of the Plus Six boasts notably more changes than the exterior, but Morgan kept most of the old layout intact. And by that I mean that the glovebox is integrated into a similar cutout into the dashboard, while the center stack controls and dials are carved into a similar trapezoidal shape. Sure, you can now opt for a glovebox net instead of a standard lid and the center stack is narrower, but the dashboard remains recognizable overall.

As I said, the center stack is a bit longer and narrower now. It still features a speedo and a rev counter, just like the old Plus 8, but both have modern designs. The gauge in the center looks fancier too. The lower section was revised as well. Instead of the five buttons placed horizontally in the same line, it now features three buttons at the bottom and two above. This five-button layout is flanked by two controls for the air conditioning system.

The lower dashboard was redesigned into a simpler layout with two A/C vents almost hidden under the main dash body. From there, the center console extends toward the back to include the gear and the brake levers. Moving back to the dash, the big black insert behind the driver was reduced to a small console that includes the fuel and oil gauges. The big change here is the LCD screen between the clocks. Its rather small for modern standard, but hey, at least Morgan is finally offering something digital in its cars.

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The more sculpted design of the door panels increases passenger protection in the event of a side impact

The steering wheel isn’t very different from the old units. It’s tough to spot actual differences, so I’m tempted to believe that Morgan actually took the steering wheel from the more recent Plus 8 special editions and used it in the Plus Six.

Moving over to the door panels, they definitely look better than before. Morgan went for a simpler, cleaner design here and redesigned the door handles and the upper section of the upholstery. Morgan says that the more sculpted design of the door panels increases passenger protection in the event of a side impact.

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The seats are wrapped in a new type of leather called Pebble Grain

The Plus Six also comes with newly design seats that lighter, stiffer, and provide increased lateral support. The seat back are also thinner than before, which improves both stowage space and legroom. Combined with the slightly longer wheelbase, the Plus Six offers an extra 0.8 inches of legroom over the Plus 8. Unfortunately, there’s no specific info on storage capacity.

The seats are wrapped in a new type of leather. It’s called Pebble Grain and it can be replaced with a premium soft grain hide or the saddle leather you see in the official photos here. You can opt to have the seat backs wrapped in leather as well, or painted in gloss-black or body color. Did you see the floor mats with the contrasting stitching and fantastic detailing. They look awesome, don’t they?

Overall, the Plus Six might not seem like a big departure from the Plus 8, but the more modern dashboard layout, the new seats, and the upgraded leather upholstery make the redesign worth while.

Drivetrain

  • New engine from BMW
  • 3.0-liter inline-six
  • 335 horsepower
  • 369 pound-feet of torque
  • 0 to 62 in 4.2 seconds
  • Top speed at 165 mph
  • New platform and suspension
  • Still has a wood frame
  • ZF eight-speed automatic
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The Plus Six rides on a brand-new platform made from bonded aluminum

This is where the Plus Six stands out as a massive departure from its predecessor, the Plus 8.

For starters, it rides on a brand-new platform made from bonded aluminum. This lightweight architecture tips the scales at only 216 pounds, the CX-generation platform is lighter than its predecessor, but at the same time its 100 percent stiffer. The suspension attached to it is rather familiar, with an adaptation of a MacPherson strut setup in the front and a very compact four-link layout un the rear. The setup also includes new track rod ends, radial stiffened bushes, and a front anti-roll bar, all of which contribute to making the Plus Six the most dynamically capable Morgan ever.

It’s worth noting that the Plus Six features a wooden frame, just like its predecessor. Although this setup is far from modern, Morgan insists on keeping it in order to preserve its coachbuilding legacy that dates back to pre-World War 2 times. However, the British maker insists that the frame was refined to ensure that it "remains relevant rather hand symbolistic." Details are scant, but this revised platform is made from English ash and is thicker than before, which increases strength.

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The Plus Six features a wooden frame, just like its predecessor

Second, Morgan made a radical change in the engine compartment. After seven years of using a 4.8-liter V-8 from BMW, the British firm adopted a newer and more modern 3.0-liter inline-six. Also borrowed from BMW, this unit features turbocharging, a big shift from the previous naturally aspirated mill. The inline-six is as new as they get. Based on a design that BMW introduced in 2015 as the B58 engine, it was updated for the 2018 model year and it’s also found in BMW’s ranging from the 5 to 8 series, the X5 and X7, as well as the Z4. Actually, the mill is shared with the Z4 M40i and the latest Toyota Supra.

This engine marks two premieres for Morgan, making the Plus Six the first to features an inline-six engine and the first to feature turbocharging. The mill cranks out a solid 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, a rating that’s identical to the Euro-spec BMW Z4 M40i. The U.S. version of the M40i benefits from an extra 47 horses at 382. The Plus Six’s rating is also very similar to the Toyota Supra, powered by the same engine. The Japanese coupe comes with 335 horsepower and 365 pound-feet, a minor four-pound-foot deficit.

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The BMW-sourced engine cranks out a solid 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque

The Plus Six is quite the quick roadster from 0 to 62 mph, needing only 4.2 seconds to complete the benchmark. That’s three tenths quicker than the old Plus 8 and a significant improvement. But that’s not the most spectacular performance feature of the Plus Six. The British sports car is quicker than all of its competitors with the same engine and similar output. Specifically, it hits 62 mph four tenths quicker than the Euro-spec BMW Z4 M40i and a tenth-second quicker than the Toyota Supra. It’s also only marginally slower than the U.S.-spec, more powerful BMW Z4 M40i.

The secret behind the impressive feat is the Plus Six’s low curb weight. Tipping the scales at only 2,370 pounds (1,075 kg), the Plus Six is a whopping 989 pounds lighter than the Toyota Supra and 1,014 pounds lighter than the BMW Z4.

The Plus Six also wins the top speed battle, as it can charge up to 165 mph. Both the Toyota Supra and the BMW Z4 M40i are limited to 155 mph, despite having the same engine.

The inline-six mill mates to a familiar eight-speed automatic transmission provided by ZF. It comes with Sport, Plus, and Manual modes, the later operable through paddles behind the steering wheel.

Morgan Plus Six drivetrain specifications
Engine BMW 2019 B58 TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine
Gearbox 8-speed Automatic with Sport, Plus and Manual shift modes
Max Power 250kw (335 bhp) @ 6,500rpm
Max Torque 500Nm (369 lb/ft)
Performance 0 – 62mph 4.2 seconds
Top Speed 166mph (267 kph)
Combined MPG 38.2mpg (7.4L/100km)
Combined Co2 170g/km
Dry weight 1,075kg

Prices

2019 Morgan Plus Six
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Pricing for the Morgan Plus Six starts from £77,995, which account for a £8,000 increase over the old Plus 8. This also converts to around $96,000 as of July 2019. Opt for the better equipped Touring trim and the sticker jumps to £84,995. Morgan also offered two special-edition models at launched. Called the First Edition - Moonstone and First Edition - Emerald, these models are defined by custom exterior colors and come with a few extra features. Both are priced at £89,995.

Competition

Caterham Seven

2017 Caterham Seven 310
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Much like its predecessor, the Plus Six doesn’t have any direct competitors, mostly due to its retro design. The Caterham Seven is among the very few vehicles that comes close. Launched by Lotus in 1957, the Seven boasts the same design ever since Caterham purchased the rights to it in 1973. Both have similar roadster layouts if we ignore Morgan’s new hard-top, but there are plenty of features hat set the two apart. For starters, the Seven comes with wheel fenders completely separated from the body and the headlamps are also placed outside the shell. The Seven is also much lighter, tipping the scales at less than 2,000 pounds. It’s not available with six-cylinder engines either, as the entire lineup comes with Ford-sourced four-bangers. Caterham offers five different models. Two of them, the Seven 270 and 310 come with a 1.6-liter engine under the hood and don’t have the power and speed of the Plus Six. The Seven features a more powerful 2.0-liter engine, but it’s notably slower than the Plus Six with 180 horsepower and a 0-to-62 mph benchmark of 4.8 seconds. Next up is the Seven 420, which cranks out "only" 210 horsepower, but it charges to 62 mph in just 3.7 seconds. The cool thing about this model is that it’s notably more affordable than the Plus Six at £32,990. Actually, you’ll end up better pricing-wise if you go with the range-topping Seven 620, priced from £48,890. This version has a 310-horsepower supercharged engine and hits 62 mph in a scant 2.9 seconds.

Read our full review of the Caterham Seven

Conclusion

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While it might not look different from the Plus 8 on the outside, the Plus Six is a big step forward for Morgan’s traditional roadster. The revamped interior and the new technology bring Morgan closer to modern vehicles, but the new engine and chassis make an even bigger difference. Morgan received a lot of criticism in recent years for refusing to modernize and the Plus Six arrived just in time to prove that the British firm doesn’t want to fall behind. The engine is an even bigger upgrade, as the Plus Six is the first Morgan to feature a turbocharged engine. More importantly, this engine comes straight from BMW, a company known for the solid performance and good reliability of its units. Also shared with the BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra, the Plus Six’s 3.0-liter provides plenty of oomph and helps the roadster charge to 62 mph quite fast. For a vehicle that looks like it was designed 70 years ago, that’s a big achievement.

  • Leave it
    • Still looks like the old Plus 8
    • Hard-top is optional

Further reading

2012 Morgan Plus 8 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2012 Morgan Plus 8.

2015 Morgan Aero 8 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2015 Morgan Aero 8.

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