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Morgan 3 Wheeler (2012 - 2021) review - engine and gearbox

Thumping American V-twin and slick Japanese Mazda gearbox combine for a truly enthralling drivetrain. And NVH be damned

Evo rating
Price
from £25,950
  • Looks fantastic, simple clean driving experience, burnouts
  • Understeer and plenty of it, lacks grip, less fun in the wet

The engine and gearbox are two of the 3 Wheeler’s strongest points. American motorcycle engine manufacturer S&S produces the 2-litre V-Twin 'X-Wedge', which is then mated to a sturdy five-speed gearbox from the third-generation Mazda MX-5.

An at-the-rear-wheel power output of 82bhp at 5250rpm might not sound like much (it's measured at the wheel, rather than the crank), but the 3 Wheeler weighs just 525kg, which gives it a power to weight ratio of 159bhp per tonne.

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The engine itself is actually quite high tech given the retro looks of the Morgan. It uses a dry-sump, is fuel injected and is air cooled - thanks largely to the fact that it's sat right out open to the elements on the front of the stubby nose section.

We’ve driven multiple 3 Wheelers now and the V-Twin has never disappointed. Driven slowly the thumping pistons puttering and pop at low revs, while the engine note hardens towards the top end. With the optional fishtal exhausts, the sound is part-Spitfire, part Hell's Angels.

You do need to be quite handy with rev-matching in order to enact smooth downchanges, as engine revolutions die quite quickly, but other than that the 3 Wheeler is easier to drive than it looks. The throttle is responsive, the engine torquey, the gearbox snappy and while the clutch is initially heavy, you quickly adapt.

It's worth mentioning that Morgan is also working on developing an electric 3 Wheeler. Currently in pre-production concept form, the car is set to make its debut proper come the end of 2016.

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