Without a doubt, 2013 was a turbulent year for the world’s oldest privately-owned car manufacturer. That was then – and things are now looking brighter for Morgan. At Geneva, Andrew Elphick chatted to the company’s MD, Steve Morris, about its future.
Morgan’s aluminium over ash camouflage deceived as ever – its cars are cutting edge in the powertrain department. Beneath the 2014 Plus 4’s bonnet, a new powerplant lurks – Ford’s 2.0-litre direct injection petrol unit (EcoBoost minus turbo) with Morgan’s own electronic mapping to for fine throttle control. Coupled with the transmission from the Mazda MX-5, it produces a power to weight ratio of 165bhp/tonne in the lightweight, 1000kg Morgan.
The current range is nothing if not diverse. The Ford 1.6-litre Sigma unit powers the refreshed 4/4 (holder of the longest-running series production car record, having been launched in 1936), and the new Mustang’s impressive 3.7-litre 285bhp V6 engine gives the Roadster an ample turn of speed. Of course, if you require even more performance, the 367bhp BMW-powered Plus 8 is all you will ever need. The popular 3 wheeler has been tweaked for 2014, with revised geometry for the (stiffer) chassis and improved cooling for low-speed urban cruising. However, Morgan’s Managing Director, Steve Morris (above), is particularly proud of the Plus 4’s ability to deliver flexible power everywhere across the rev range.
Since we spoke with Morgan last year, a raft of improvements have been introduced across the range. New instrumentation, a series of trim enhancements and even greater personalisation options have all been introduced. An airbag has also been introduced (seen in the cutaway chassis) and that represents a substantial £100,000 investment.
With the new Plus 4 in build and ready for delivery immediately, you might notice this change of pace for Morgan – Steve Morris confirmed that, although Morgan is very traditional, today’s customer would prefer the latest model today. It isn’t just on the production line where changes have occurred either. Late last year Morgan staged its first dealer conference for all distributors to have their say, from the smallest family run dealer to the might of the Pendragon Group.
On the shop floor, a number of employment opportunities are in the works – a graduate intake is planned, as are scholarships for all trades and all ages, Morris recognising age isn’t a barrier to talent. On the show stand, monitors heralded the introduction of a new on-line configurator. For the media, a USB press kit was offered (though it wasn’t made from wood, much to the disappointment of our Editor!). Morgan is aware of social media and how important a marketing tool it is – but only if finely judged.
Although Charles Morgan’s tailor couldn’t be present for the 14.30 press conference, Steve Morris sailed the ship effortlessly. The Morgan MD doesn’t feel the need for gimmicks – only to enhance the brand, build, the feel of Morgan. We wish him well.