When the Morgan Three Wheeler was released in 2012, it caused a stir. It had a big engine in front and looked like the Spitfire cockpit (somewhat). He made silly noises while looking ridiculous and made people smile. It was also deep, deeply flawed. Morgan took lessons during the Three Wheeler journey and has applied them to its first new leaf design in years, the Super 3.
The Super 3 has the same layout as the Three Wheeler – two large wheels and an engine at the front and a single-wheel drive at the rear. Its front end does not come with a glittering full-screen V-Twin, but a sleek, plane-inspired cover that hides an atmospheric 1.5-liter, 118-horsepower, 110-pound triple Ford attached to a five-speed stick. Morgan says it will break 0-62 mph in 7.0 seconds and do 130 mph, which is fast. He also says he will manage 33mpg.
The Morgan series traditionally looks like it came out in the 1950s, while the Super 3 does not. There is more to it than just a touch of a jet-era, mingling with the coolness of the ’80s on its digital dial. For the first time, there is no ash box in a Morgan, although buyers can set a wooden dash. Its dials are big and intense, its switches are small and bulky. Fortunately, Morgan decided to keep the start button under a reversing switch for some drama.
The steering wheel has an adjustable incline and a telescope, and the pedal gearbox moves on a lever. Previously, the former was fixed and the latter required bolts for adjustment. It still has no roof or doors, so you have to climb to the side to get in and if it rains you get wet. The old one is the same, although the optional heated seats had only one setting – “wait until it burns” – while the Super 3 heats up “gently” and “sterilization comes” and a heater to keep your feet warm. Progress!
The Super 3 is four inches wider than its predecessor, giving it some key advantages. The first is that there is real space in the cabin. You can change gears, stretch and generally be in there without worrying that you will end up stroking your passenger. It also means that the front wheels can move a little more – which is a good thing.
Although it has space in the trunk, there is amazing space under the rear deck. You can take some small bags there for a weekend away and throw important things in locked pockets under the seats. Although the Morgan has a fancy luggage rack in the shape of an exoskeleton for the trunk lid, bungee… things and a patented clip system for attaching the luggage to the side blades. That, Morgan says, means you can tour it.
The Three Wheeler was a difficult thing to get into, and it comes from an owner. Noisy, swaying, prone to losing tracks, reluctant to steer and with a turning circle to make a Clio V6 make its money, its charming V-Twin peeling and general ridiculousness made you almost forget about its many flaws. The Super 3 does not inflate, but it also does not offer so many fuss challenges. Its wider front track means there’s more room to move its delicious rims, so you can make a three-point turn without looking like the Austin Powers. Its tires are not tubular, on the contrary, specially made Avons for the car, so when you enter a corner, do not worry that they will come off the wheels. The steering wheel provides real feedback, so you can feel what the front is doing – which actually turns and holds. The Super 3 seems to be able to turn quite well. It’s not on par with, say, any Porsche… or Miata, but it goes much better than a three-wheeler. The back also has a decent grip on it. In (not surprisingly) humid conditions it stuck quite well. Even if you give him a boot from a standstill, he is neatly slippery. The same goes for exiting an intersection – if your foot slips, you will find yourself doing Formula Drift angles at 3 mph. It’s the most fun. In the corners, with gentle challenge, it is pleasantly mobile. Never lively, never unexpected, Super 3 is a playful thing that he likes to push. Its suspension is on the softer side, which means it drives beautifully over the formidable road surfaces that sweep the British countryside.
Its engine has to go hard to get the most out of it. The power is at the upper end of the rev range and while it is more enjoyable in a steady clip, you will want to relax it for two reasons: 1) It is really fast 2) It sounds awesome. Each throttle knife is accompanied by a cracked, turbulent, stimulating exhaust from its unique exhaust, which, if the wheel is on the right side, is just behind your right ear.
Something that is transferred from its predecessor, the clutch and the gas have a great distance between them and the engine easily adapts to the turns, so that you easily feel like a hero. The stick change from Mazda is also a pleasure. The brakes, unlike the old car, actually work. Where pre-planning was once necessary is not here. Although there is not much feeling on the pedal. Knife and stop until you do it right.
Not all beer and beer though. Apart from the obvious “if it rains short” and “there is not the right number of wheels”, a few things stood out. The Super 3 does not have a windshield as standard, but you can specify one of the few depending on your preferences. The test car I played with came with a clean Perspex fly screen that did a good job of keeping the wind out of my sight, but the way it was molded meant it distorted the view in front of something rotten. There is a new version coming for proper production cars that obviously solves the problem. Going without and sticking with glasses is cooler though. The pedal gearbox, though incredibly mounted, has some weird links that occasionally prevented me from using my braking foot. It did not interfere with the control of the car in any way, but it was annoying. It may be the way my leg sits, making the problem “me”, but it happened more than once. Oh, and while the fancy monocoque construction of the new car means the death of the tubular frame, it also means that there is nowhere to put your clutch leg when you are not using it. In the old car you could touch it to a pipe. Obviously, going in and out is an art. Pressing the appropriate waterproof seats is an option, but to do so without requiring a little exercise – the extra space in the cabin is great when you are there, but you need a little wing opening to get inside. Or practice.
At the end of the day Super 3 is a game. An expensive game – they start at $ 54,000 plus destination and taxes. But it’s a lot of fun. It feels bigger than the car it replaces, and not so raw. Less compromise does not mean less fun. Just different fun.
Will the boat move as loudly as the Three Wheeler ten years ago? Not so difficult, because it is a continuation of something really strange. But so far Morgan’s has had over 450 orders and built less than 3,000 Three Wheelers. Wear goggles and raincoat in the rain.
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