The British Morgan Motor Company is not a car maker known for regularly debuting new products, still this year we saw a number of updates and two new models at the Geneva Motor Show. The Morgan Aero Coupe was one of the new cars and definitely not your average Morgan sports car. This cheapest model in the Aero range is an unquestioned money maker for the company next to its brother the Supersports, which is nothing more than a targa-roofed derivative of the previous Aeromax coupe.
The new Morgan Aero Coupe is a modern interpretation of the company’s heritage featuring a combination of modern techniques, striking old-school styling and the practicality of long-distance touring. The strong and rigid vehicle is inspired by the GT3 Aero. According to Morgan, the Aero Coupe adds more comfort and practicality with a large and secure boot in the rear for the passenger’s luggage. The construction of the car is entirely made of aluminum employing old school rivets with structural bonding. The hand-built Aero Coupe features also English Ash between the alloy chassis and superformed alloy bodywork.
Under the coupe’s long hood lies a BMW-sourced 4.8 liter V8 mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. In standard form the engine develops 367bhp and 490Nm of torque, but the first number goes up to 390 when the car is fitted with an optional sports exhaust. The powertrain is fitted inside a stiff aluminum chassis.
The total dry weight of the sports car is only 1,175kg, 75kgs more than the new Plus 8, which means that the performance levels are quite similar to the open-top roadster. The power-to-weight ratio is 315bhp per tonne, a sprint from zero to 100km/h is done in 4.5 seconds and the top speed is 273km/h.
Our Creme White test car was outfitted with the automatic transmission, which proved to be quite sluggish in normal mode. The box is irritatingly slow and reluctant to kick down. Moving to manual mode was clearly a better option, but it didn’t offer the ultimate control over the powertrain and its capabilities. Morgan should really consider the sales of shift paddles fitted to the steering wheel, similar to Wiesmann. Keeping your hands on the steering wheel provides the driver with full control and a more rewarding cornering experience.
The rigid chassis has wonderful body control and huge mechanical grip. The suspension however is far from comfortable and not suitable enough in a touring supercar. The ride is quite harsh and firm at lower speeds and it doesn’t offer the sophisticated ride of similar priced rivals. The volume of the side exhaust system is an additional point of discussion. Even though the soundtrack is a wonderful bass-heavy V8 tune situated next to your ears, the constant tiring noise doesn’t fit the highway-eating gran-tourer perspective of the Aero Coupe. At higher speeds and lower revs it definitely improves, but not up to an appropriate comfort level.
After crawling into the slung opening for the doors and positioning yourself behind the steering wheel, the nicely build interior provides a great view across the coupe’s long split-side bonnet, while the bespoke shape of the rear end allows for clear vision backwards. The Ash hardwood surrounding the cockpit and doors can be hand polished in a color of choosing. The double-stitched leather and chrome detailing complements the looks of the hand-built cabin. The level of refinement inside the cockpit is quite minimal with only air-conditioning, remote locking and an old-fashioned radio/CD player. There is also hardly any seat adjustment and the ergonomics of some controls are frustrating.
This new 2012 Morgan Aero Coupe clearly doesn’t set any new standards for long distance driving pleasure. The two-seater sports is a wonderful looking and sounding sports car capable of delivering loads of driving pleasure, but not over a longer distance. The Aero Coupe’s suspension is simply too harsh and even though the engine sounds great, the noise becomes tiring over time and at speed.
An automatic gearbox with paddle shifters would definitely change the complete experience of this car from a gran-tourer for weekend trips into a more challenging supercar benefiting its agile responses and excellent steering. Still the complete package is unique in many different ways, but fails to impress against its competitors like Wiesmann. It clearly cannot make up its mind. Yes, we know that it is primarily marketed as a GT, and prefers to be driven and treated as such, but from a GT point of view we would expect more comfort and long distance refinement.