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Morgan Aero 8

The Morgan has been given a revamp to make it more stylish - with an upgraded engine to boot

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The new headlights, wider cabin, improved safety credentials, revised roof and uprated V8 all make the Aero 8 far easier to live with – although it’s still unlikely to tempt most buyers out of more mainstream machinery. Styling aside, however, there’s nothing old-fashioned about the latest Morgan – it’s fast, generously equipped, great fun to drive and extremely charming.

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With TVR having just gone into receivership, 2007 hasn’t got off to a great start for fans of British sports cars. But don’t despair – as we revealed in issue 940, Morgan has announced that its amazing Aeromax coupé will go into production next year.

Yet you don’t have to wait that long to see a new Morgan. The Malvern firm has just facelifted its Aero 8 roadster – and yes, it has done away with the old car’s most controversial aspect. MINI headlamps have been fitted in place of the previous VW Beetle units, so its cross-eyed stare is beginning to fade.

Mounted further out on the proud front wings, the revised lights instantly make the Aero look less comical. But no one can deny the dramatic styling retains all its head-turning ability – this Morgan isn’t exactly subtle.

Changes have been made elsewhere, too. There’s an all-new roof mechanism, complete with a larger rear window for improved visibility, and the cabin is six inches wider, as the doors are pushed further out over the running boards – an alteration that’s also aided access.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that means the rest of the interior is as straightforward as a supermini’s, however. The steering wheel is mounted close to your chest, the seats are very narrow and the fly-off handbrake is buried down the transmission tunnel. On the plus side, full US-type approval means the Aero now has two airbags, not to mention cruise control, a tyre pressure monitor and a heated element windscreen. Soundproofing has been improved and even Bentley could learn a lesson or two from Morgan’s craftsmen – the wood and turned aluminium dash is a work of art.

But there’s nothing old-fashioned about the engine. Morgan’s tie-up with BMW means the car now uses the latest 4.4-litre double VANOS Valvetronic V8, developing 325bhp and 448Nm of torque. It also features the six-speed manual transmission from the previous-generation M5. The aluminium Aero 8 tips the scales at only 1,145kg, meaning a 284bhp-per-tonne power-to-weight ratio. That’s identical to the latest M6 supercoupé’s, which gives you an idea of how fast this Morgan is – the claimed 0-60mph time is less than 4.5 seconds. And even with its hi-tech V10, the top 6-Series doesn’t sound as good or punch so hard at low revs as the Aero 8.

Nor is it as involving; handling is the Morgan’s trump card. The stiff chassis and superbly judged suspension mean the car is taut, agile, well balanced and surprisingly friendly to drive.

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