Though faced with the unenviable job of replacing longstanding and much-loved Morgans, the current Plus Four and Plus Six were very easy to like. It helped, of course, that they were both faster, more modern, and better to drive than their predecessors - and yet still instantly recognisable as products of the Pickersleigh Road factory. Realistically, they couldn't have hoped to achieve much more out of the gate.
But neither was perfect, hence the introduction of a model year update for 2022 that applies to both cars. Given Morgan revisions have tended to arrive with each solar eclipse, that anything has changed at all just a couple of years after launch (or just one in the case of the Four) is significant. Understandably, though, given how recently both went into production, neither model gets transformative alterations, but worthwhile improvements are promised nevertheless: not least a better sealed and better insulated roof, new seats, and a sports exhaust. There are USB ports and a lockable storage compartment, too.
Amazingly for Silverstone in October, there wasn't opportunity to experience the claimed improvement in weather protection - it was roof down and coat zipped up all the way. Expect a more thorough test to come when you least expect it, like next August bank holiday. Still, come rain or shine, the benefits of the new seat found in both cars are clear. Previously the driver could feel a little perched behind the wheel of a Plus Four or Six, a feeling exacerbated by the low window line. The new chairs are a big improvement. In the same way that a bad driving position can undermine the enjoyment of an entire car - think GR Yaris or Focus RS - so can a good one embellish it. Especially in something like a Morgan.
After all, it is intended to be about the experience, and feeling much better connected to what's going on is a huge gain. Not only are you that bit closer to what the driven axle is doing, the view out is better, the relationship with pedals and wheel improved, and exposure to the elements seemingly a tad kinder now as well. For the Plus Four you could go as far to say that even the manual gearbox is more satisfying thanks to the seat swap, its lever being in easier reach (or you might say that simply any manual gearbox is a joy to use in 2021 and that excitement got the better of objective judgement). Whatever the case, it feels like the more appropriate gearbox for the Plus Four, even allowing for the auto's greater speed and efficiency.
The 3.0-litre Plus Six remains automatic-only, and still sports the rather incongruous BMW shifter and paddles. That said, while the idea of a manual is an appealing one - especially with the lever better sited - it doesn't take awfully long on the road to realise the eight-speed suits it just fine. Why? Because the Six is so fast, truth be told. This is still a 340hp car that weights not much more than a tonne, and given it's more cruiser than bruiser, three pedals and half a dozen manual gears would likely demand too much attention of its driver. Added to which the BMW-donated transmission is not to be sniffed at; aside from the overly plastic touch points and an occasional tendency to hold onto a ratio, the 'box is as slick as you might expect.
Or it is in Drive, at least, the setting the Plus Six is homologated in and which drivers will use most of the time. But you must try Sport at some point also, as seldom has a mode elicited such a dramatic change. Morgan says it opens valves in the exhaust, but it feels like Sport (and Sport+, selected via a dash button) cut the exhaust off somewhere near the manifold. The sportier settings are hilariously, obscenely, almost overbearingly loud, howling through the rev range and launching a 21-gun salute every time you lift off. Which, it must be said, is extremely entertaining. As a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six there are hints of the iconic Japanese engines of old, the B58 smooth and fierce at the same time, even if it isn't quite as musical as those. But it's a great sound to have access to, and another element of the Morgan experience that brings joy - not least because it's just as easily turned off as it is activated.
Without any chassis modifications disclosed, both Plus Four and Six drive how they did, albeit with the benefits of being sat closer to the action. The 2.0-litre car is agile and nimble, a real joy to flit down a country road; the 3.0-litre is inevitably that bit more ponderous, preferring bigger roads and bends to really let that straight-six sing. The Plus Four definitely feels like an authentic Morgan experience despite a 1 Series engine, but the muscle car vibe of the Six is hard to deny.
At any rate, they're both great, and tangibly more likeable after this round of revisions. Inevitably there is still a bit of perfecting to do - the Six would probably benefit from a limited-slip diff, and the steering on both is quite light - but these CX-platformed cars are light years ahead of where previous Morgans were not so long ago. And given that the firm seems newly sold on the idea of model year updates, there might not be much of a wait for them to improve even further.
SPECIFICATION | 2022 MORGAN PLUS FOUR
Engine: 1,998cc, four-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive (8-speed auto optional)
Power (hp): 260@5,500rpm (260@4,400rpm)
Torque (lb ft): 258@1,000-5,000rpm (295@1,000-4,300rpm)
0-62mph: 5.2 seconds (4.8)
Top speed: 149mph
Weight: 1,013kg (dry, auto 1,009kg)
MPG: 39 (40, WLTP)
CO2: 165g/km (159g/km, WLTP)
Price: £64,995 (£67,495)
SPECIFICATION | 2022 MORGAN PLUS SIX
Engine: 2,998cc, straight-six, turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 340@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 369@N/A rpm
0-62mph: 4.2 secs
Top speed: 166mph
Weight: 1,075kg (dry)
MPG: 34 (WLTP)
CO2: 180g/km (WLTP)
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