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First Drive: Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.

First Drive: Morgan 3 Wheeler
Morgan plunders its past with the unambiguously named 3 Wheeler. It's an enjoyable alternative to sanitised modern motoring.

 



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| First Drive | Malvern Link, England | Morgan 3 Wheeler |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Less weight, less complication, less wheels and more fun. That about sums up Morgan's 3 Wheeler. The company has history with odd-numbered wheels, its original 3 Wheeler playing a crucial role in its history. In the new model Morgan hopes three wheels will play a big role in its future, too. With a brimming order book and a drive quite unlike anything else there's little reason to doubt that.

Key Facts

Pricing: 30,000
Engine: 2.0-litre S&S twin-cylinder petrol
Transmission: five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Body style: three-wheel roadster
Rivals: Grinnall Scorpion III, Triking, Blackjack Zero
Combined economy: 35 - 50mpg (estimated)
Top speed: 120mph (estimated)
0-62mph: 4.5 seconds (estimated)
Power: 115bhp (provisional)

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

Unashamedly traditional in its style the Morgan 3 Wheeler evokes Morgan's original three-wheelers. Prominent features include the V-twin engine naked out front, two skinny tyres with mudguards, a short bonnet and open cabin. The bodywork tapers towards the rear, accentuating the three-wheeled layout. The exhaust runs along its flanks, while the view from inside the tight cockpit is unusual, with the headlamps and skinny front mudguards out in front of you.

There's some neat detailing inside, including the aircraft-style instruments and a removable steering wheel - necessary to get in and out. Particular attention has been paid to the pedals, with the cool cut-out M3W logo a neat touch. Though it's a shame that as much attention hasn't been lavished on the gearstick - which is disappointingly ordinary in the otherwise bespoke, hand-crafted interior.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

Getting in and starting it is a process. Remove the wheel, slide into the seat and slot the key into the awkwardly positioned ignition barrel. Be sure you insert the key before re-attaching the wheel as it's a fiddle to reach with the large rim in place. Flip up the amusing starter-button cover (like those for the machineguns on a warplane) press the button and the 3 Wheeler's V-twin 2.0-litre engine starts lazily. And noisily. It's a good noise though, backed up with an off-beat vibration from the V-twin that shakes the 3 Wheeler's entire structure.

With the hopeless rear-view mirrors shimmying (a central mirror located between the aero-screens would be useful) you need to rely on lifesaver-style motorcycle techniques to drive it. Plenty of over the shoulder looks to ensure there's no traffic then, before giving the accelerator a shove. It's quick though, and the rear wheel easy to light up, demanding entertaining corrective lock from standstill. Morgan claims the V-twin's circa 115bhp and the sub-500kg kerb weight allows the 3 Wheeler to reach 62mph in around 4.5 seconds. There's no reason to doubt that. The feeling of speed is enhanced by the open-air cockpit and the throbbing engine and exhaust note. It makes a big noise for such a small machine.

It's all highly entertaining, with the steering quick on initial turn in, though needing plenty of additional input in sharper bends. Watching the front wheels bouncing and skipping down the road and feeling their limits through the wheel is a delightfully old-school experience. Sadly the brakes are old-school too, the disc front, drum rear set-up requiring a firm shove and the pedal feel not inspiring huge confidence. That brake pedal is also set too low, meaning it's all but impossible in the tight footwell to undertake heel-and-toe downshifts.

That's an easy fix though and even so hampered the 3 Wheeler is enormously enjoyable, it never failing to attract attention and admiration. You quickly forget there's a single wheel rather than two behind you, though it's easy to get that rear wheel moving around thanks to the engine's ample torque. How much, Morgan isn't saying, but the 2.0 V-twin feels strong, if a little uncultured in its nature. There's plenty of go, but it runs out of revs quickly - thankfully the five-speed manual gearbox borrowed from a Mazda MX-5 shifts with precision and speed.

What you get for your Money: 3 3 3 3 3

Very much what you see is what you get. There's no official fixed pricing as yet but you're basically getting an engine, a leather-lined cockpit, three wheels and some nicely finished heat-formed bodywork for around 30,000. Not cheap then, but it's pretty unique in the marketplace and has some mighty strength in its Morgan heritage.

Worth Noting

There are no official figures as yet, but driven sensibly (as if) you should be able to get anything between 35 - 50mpg out of it. The 3 Wheeler isn't just a one-off either, with Charles Morgan saying it's the start of a new range. Higher performance versions are almost a certainty, as the engine's good for more power with some modest tweaking.

Summary

Sure it's odd, and it'll never be anything more than a toy - despite Morgan's people assuring us it could be a daily driver - but it's a bit brilliant at the same time. Never anything less than hugely entertaining, it's involving like little else. A few details - chiefly the brakes - need some finessing and it's perhaps a little bit on the expensive side, but that has not stopped Morgan's order books filling up with eager buyers. It's not difficult to see why.


Kyle Fortune. Photography by Max Earey. - 20 Jul 2011









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2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.

2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.



2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.
 

2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.
 

2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.
 

2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.
 

2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.
 

2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.
 

2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.
 

2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.
 

2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.
 

2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.
 

2011 Morgan 3 Wheeler. Image by Max Earey.
 






 

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