Morgan Aero 8 America
The most visually distinctive car here, the Morgan Aero 8 may look old-fashioned but it's a precise and powerful sports car with an engine note to die for
Britain doesn’t have any volume motor makers of its own, but we have a thriving sports car industry. Three of our 20 finalists are home-grown machines.
But neither the Caterham nor the Lotus is anything like as charming as the Morgan Aero 8. Revised last year, it’s lost the unfortunate cross-eyed appearance, and the charismatic flowing lines are an evolution of the marque’s traditional look. Lined up against the other models here, it had by far the most distinctive profile.
But don’t be fooled by the retro style. This is a modern sports car with a bonded aluminium chassis. Ash still features in parts of the frame, including the doors and sills, and with good reason – the wood is flexible and highly shock-absorbent.
It also helps the car weigh in at only 1,350kg – that’s 100kg less than Porsche’s stripped-out 911 GT3 RS. As a result, the 4.4-litre BMW V8 has immense low-down urge – but the noise it makes is even more impressive. Push the start button and it roars, helped by the £1,175 optional side-exit exhausts. Nothing we tested, not even the Audi R8 or Lamborghini Gallardo, sounded better. Download the ringtone (below) to see what we mean…
Tractable from tickover, the big V8 means the Morgan was by no means intimidating to drive, despite the sensitive clutch and a seating position that placed the steering wheel a few inches from your chest.
So its image is a bit old-fashioned and the car is ergonomically flawed, but there’s nothing dated about the handling. Grippy, precise and beautifully balanced, it remained friendly even at the limit, and was very controllable. Due to a brake fault, we couldn’t time a lap, but a top-five finish was on the cards.
- 1Welcome to Greatest Drives 2007We've gathered together this year's hottest cars to fight it out on road and track for the title of Auto Express's Greatest Drives 2007
- 2Mercedes CL63 AMGThe latest Mercedes AMG is a variant of the Bentley Continental-rivalling CL63. Does a two-tonne sports saloon make sense?
- 3BMW 130i M SportAlthough it's the baby of the BMW range, it bears the M Sport pack, giving it a formidable 261bhp
- 4Vauxhall Corsa VXRIt was our top supermini earlier this year, but does the VXR version of the Vauxhall Corsa cut it in this esteemed company?
- 5Audi S5It might not be the most thrilling to drive, but the Audi S5 is one of the easiest cars to drive quickly
- 6BMW M5 TouringThe estate version of the BMW M5 is no slouch, but it doesn't feel as special as previous M cars from BMW
- 7Lotus 2-ElevenThe Lotus 2-Eleven is an uncompromised trackday car - driveable, if not comfortable, on the road, but unsurpassed on a circuit
- 8Morgan Aero 8 America - currently readingThe most visually distinctive car here, the Morgan Aero 8 may look old-fashioned but it's a precise and powerful sports car with an engine note to die for
- 9Vauxhall VXR8The Vauxhall from down-under is very much an old-style muscle car - and the VXR8 knows how to let you have fun
- 10Nissan 350ZA previous overall winner, the Nissan 350Z still impresses in its current incarnation, even if it's not quite as fresh three years later
- 11MINI Cooper SNow a more mature drive, the latest MINI is slightly less fun than previous Cooper models - which is why it's outside the top 10
- 12Caterham Sigma Roadsport 125It's a perennial favourite of Greatest Drives, and this year's Caterham Roadsport is no different - brilliant on the track, a little rough on the road
- 13Fiat Panda 100HPAs much fun as cars 10 times its price, the Fiat Panda 100HP won't set any lap records, but will leave a big smile on your face
- 14Mazda MX-5 RCIt's the top-selling two-seater of all time, but does the Mazda MX-5 still have the flair to challenge for the title of Greatest Drive?
- 15Renaultsport Mégane F1 Team R26The latest F1-inspired Renaultsport Megane has learnt from previous models' failings, and is now a brilliant all-round package
- 16Porsche 911 GT3 RSThe hardcore Porsche 911 GT3 RS is an unequivocal supercar. With incredible performance, the only doubt is its real-world usability - and price tag
- 17Renaultsport Clio 197 F1 Team R27If you thought the Megane was impressive, the hot Renaultsport Clio R27 manages to force its way into the top 5 with sheer poise
- 18Lamborghini Gallardo SuperleggeraThe Lamborghini was the most expensive car on test. Luckily the super-light Gallardo was also the most rewarding to drive
- 19Honda Civic Type RThe Type R version of the Honda Civic is not only the best hot hatch, its chassis makes it one of the best drivers' cars, full stop
- 20Audi R8The hottest car of the year, the Audi R8 isn't perfect, but driving it is such a thrilling experience, you won't care
- 21Porsche Cayman SDespite the presence of serious rivals from Lamborghini and Audi, the amazing Porsche Cayman S retains its title