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Aeromaxed. Image by Jonathan Bushell.

Aeromaxed
Morgan's limited-run coupé is beautiful and beguiling and it's also a thrill to drive.

 



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| First Drive | Malvern Link, England | Morgan Aeromax |

The Morgan Aeromax's inception is the stuff of automotive dreams. Prince Eric I Sturdza, President of Banque Baring Brothers Suisse, fancied a coupé version of Morgan's Aero 8 roadster and contacted the factory with his request. Morgan happened to have some drawings of such a car that were submitted by Matthew Humphries, a student at University of Coventry Automotive Design School. The project gained momentum and the one-off Aeromax was displayed at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005, the sensational coupé unquestionably one of the stars of the Swiss event. Interest was high, and Sturdza was gracious enough to allow Morgan to put the stunning Aeromax into limited production, with only 100 examples being built.

In the Metal

Nothing really prepares you for when you first see the Aeromax in the metal. It's an absolutely beautiful car, its flowing lines a stunning fusion of Morgan's oh-so-familiar silhouette and an almost cartoonish modernity that's utterly absorbing. Sharp creases and soft curvaceous lines combine to brilliant effect; the way the light moves on the different surfaces ensuring each time you look at it you see something new. The rear is beautifully formed; the lights look like they were designed specifically for the trailing edge of the rear wings. They're actually borrowed from Lancia's little-known Thesis - its lighting donation alone giving the otherwise pointless Italian saloon a reason for existence.

If the Aeromax as a whole is a piece of automotive sculpture then the small details are the jewels. The chromed knobs that open the bonnet, the front grille, the third central light on the Aeromax's spine, the louvers and vents and the side-exiting exhausts are all perfectly integrated. Of all the features though it's the rear butterfly opening windows and their amazingly crafted hinges that really underline Morgan's sensational attention to detail - they're engineering masquerading as art.

What you get for your Money

The Aeromax, like all Morgans, is lovingly hand-built by skilled craftsmen in Morgan's Works in Malvern Link. You're buying not only one of 100 examples but 100 years of tradition, too - 2009 being Morgan's centenary year. That's not to say that the Aeromax is some antiquated machine that's beautiful but compromised, Morgan being surprisingly forward-looking despite its obvious tradition. So under the beautiful body there's a thoroughly modern chassis using bonded aluminium and a V8 engine borrowed from BMW. The interior is as stunning as the exterior, Morgan's mix of wood, leather and turned metal creating a uniquely British driving environment, which although far from spacious feels cockpit-like and surprisingly comfortable. It all makes the circa £100,000 price tag look like something of a bargain.

Driving it

The Aeromax's BMW-sourced 367bhp, 4.8-litre V8 usually powers big saloons like the 5 and 7 Series so shifting the Aeromax's waif-like 1,250kg presents absolutely no problems at all. Given the V8's proximity to you it's amazing how quiet that big engine is when you're inside. Opening the window shatters the illusion of tranquillity though, the V8's rich bass-like engine note making itself apparent n the sensational sound emanating from the side-mounted exhausts. These are optional, but a must if you like to hear your Aeromax: drive it with the window down a touch for full effect.

The Aeromax's pace is sensational too: it gathers speed with absolute impunity. The benchmark 0-62mph sprint is covered in 4.2 seconds though its pace is delivered in any gear at any point in the rev-range. The 370lb.ft of torque is key to this and also ensures it's also pretty easy to light up the rear tyres in the wet. It doesn't feel short of traction though, and when it does break loose it does so in such a friendly, progressive manner it's never frightening. There are two gearbox choices: a mechanical-feeling manual or a smooth automatic that offers manual override. Brilliant as the manual is it's the automatic that suits the Aeromax best, not least because having it liberates a touch more space in the otherwise tight foot well. That allows you to concentrate on the weighty steering, which is full of information, meaning you're never left guessing as to what the front wheels are doing.

It rides with real suppleness too, the suspension perfectly judged for our undulating and roughly surfaced roads. It's as comfortable at cruising as it is when being pushed hard, the Aeromax the consummate GT but also a talented and engaging sports car. With so little weight to slow down the brakes are sensational. Apparently the Bosch engineer who helped set them up on the Aero 8 was so impressed with the stopping power on offer he bought the test car off Morgan. Vindication of the Morgan's stopping power doesn't come much greater than that.

Worth Noting

Only 100 examples of the Aeromax will ever be built and every single one of them is accounted for. Like all Morgans the Aeromax features timber in its construction, British ash being the wood that gives structure to the body. Some might consider that archaic, but it's light, strong and easily formed. It's also sustainable, Morgan planting six trees for each single one it uses. Consider it CO2 offset before anyone ever dreamt up the idea. Emissions are kept sensible too thanks to the Aeromax's low weight, a recent study on Morgan underlining that it's among the greenest manufacturers out there. Amusingly, other car makers are now looking at Morgan's traditional production techniques and materials as a means to overcome the challenges current environmental legislation presents the industry.

Summary

Quite simply one of the most beautiful cars we've ever driven, the Aeromax surprises with its depth of ability as a comfortable GT and entertaining sports car. Limited-run specials often mean compromises, but with the Aeromax there are few. We thought we'd want one to park up to just look at, but after experiencing it we'd want to spend just as much time driving it. There are 100 very lucky people out there. Actually make that 99, as we heard at the factory that one fella liked his so much he bought another.

Kyle Fortune - 21 Nov 2008









  www.morgan-motor.co.uk    - Morgan road tests
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2008 Morgan Aeromax specifications:
0-62mph: 4.2 seconds
Top speed: 160mph
Combined economy: 25.9mpg
Emissions: 264g/km
Kerb weight: 1250kg

Full technical specifications

2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.

2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.



2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.
 

2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.
 

2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.
 

2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.
 

2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.
 

2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.
 

2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.
 

2008 Morgan Aeromax. Image by Jonathan Bushell.
 






 

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