Rumour has it that Welsh rugby winger George North loves Morgans. Unfortunately, he has a deal with Land Rover – and also finds it very hard to squeeze inside a Plus 4.
North will go in to battle on the Lions tour of New Zealand this summer with England forwards Mako and Billy Vunipola. Today I interviewed the brothers and it’s official:
There’s no chance of squeezing that pair into my Morgan!
For the rest of us, the Plus 4 has a lot more room than a Caterham Seven. There’s a space behind the seats where the roof folds away that will take two weekend bags.
Generally speaking, the Morgan is a lot more civilised too – although Car Couture will test the 60th Anniversary Seven in July. That’s not to say it isn’t very noisy when pushed hard.
Even so, I could hear the music system at speeds up to 70mph. Believe me, that’s a major bonus in any Morgan…
Whenever I visit the Morgan factory in Malvern it’s like stepping back in time. The buildings are relics from the war-time and things haven’t changed much since long before that.
Well, they now have plastic gingham tablecloths in the café, rather than linen – and there’s one of those Dyson dryers in the loo that almost blows your skin off.
I met an elderly gentleman outside with a walking stick. He bought a Morgan 60 years ago for £400 and guess what? Even he doesn’t think they have changed that much.
Of course, that’s what makes a Morgan great. They haven’t changed much at all. Sure it has a Mazda gearbox and a Ford engine – the Plus 8 is powered by a BMW unit – but time has stood still here.
In an age of Brexit, fake news and presidents with orange hair, it’s good to know some things never change…
Infotainment screens – millions of them. Ugly, flat devices that destroy the aesthetics of any car interior. Most are as unattractive as any flat screen TV.
Now it seems to me that some car manufacturers think displaying a large screen is a status symbol. Mercedes being a very good case in point in last week’s AMG GT S.
So what joy to discover the SQ7 system disappears without fuss into the to of the dash when not needed. The operation is kind of cool too – glides down silently at the tap of a button.
Which is why for my money, the Audi dash is so much better than anything else coming out of Germany right now…
So what have I learned over the weekend about the SQ7? Well, it’s one of those cars that is so smooth and quiet, you could easily gain a point or three.
There’s no fuss about the performance, no acoustic exhaust button or fancy spoiler. It’s not pretty but for moving seven people in a hurry, this is some machine.
There are different drive settings. Economy is quick enough but dynamic really ups the revs and gives this big Audi a serious turn of speed.
The steering is light, which means bundling fast into a corner could make lesser cars come unstuck. Not the SQ7 – it grips like a Golf GTI.
And there’s a subdued grumble from the four tailpipes – so refreshing after the rather manufactured roar of many rivals.
I don’t have seven people to move around, or need a car this big. But I could find a reason if it meant keeping the SQ7…
Technology was never my strong point. Once, I almost blew up the science lab at school. I’m still struggling with the three remote controls that make my television work.
So trying to get my head around ‘forced induction’ was never going to be easy.
As far as I can work out, that means the SQ7 has something more than the standard twin turbochargers fitted to most high performance cars these days.
Somewhere down in the depths of that engine is a system called EPC, or electric powered compressor. It completely eliminates turbo lag – that split second in a turbo car when you press the accelerator and nothing happens.
In the youth of my driving career, turbo lag was an absolute pain. It still happens in many modern cars but nowhere near as bad.
Audi has solved the problem in the SQ7 – albeit with technology I will never understand. It’s brilliant but beyond my Grade U maths brain.
What it does mean is that I can pull out during overtaking without fear of being mushed. Which has to be a good thing…
First things first, the SQ7 is fast, mighty fast. That’s extra surprising because it’s so damn quiet, even at motorway speeds. It’s like a cut-price, souped up Range Rover, only not as cute.
Scratch the surface though and there is plenty of technology packed inside. The engine management system borrows from F1 and you even opt for adaptive anti-roll bars on the chassis.
The SQ7 can still lean into a corner but chances are, you will lose your nerve before it does. Anyone in the back row of seats will likely throw up too.
I can report that on a drive back from London this morning, I averaged 38mpg. That’s fairly astounding considering how large and powerful the SQ7 is…
So what do you really need to know about the Mercedes AMG GT S? Well, here’s my tick list of things that you might not discover from an hour-long test drive…
The seats are ridiculous hard! Trust me, I’ve had passengers of all shapes and sizes in the GT S. And NOBODY has got out without commenting on the silly, race-tuned seats. It’s supposed to be a grand tourer. My hips are aching as I write this. Top of your options list should be a couple of soft scatter cushions.
The upright infotainment screen really doesn’t disappear into the dashboard! You know it’s fixed in that upright position but trust me, you will still try and push it away. Yep, it’s that incongruous.
Mind the gap. The doors are very heavy. No surprise in a car this size and rather reassuring BUT they do need a good slam.
The auto dip/full-beam system is lazy. I know it’s been an Easter Bank holiday but why do they take so long to dip in the face of oncoming traffic? Wake up in there!
Luggage space is minimal. On top of that, the door pockets are virtually pointless because they are so narrow and made of stretch material. You need two hands to insert something – not advisable at speed.
On the up side – it’s way better looking that a Porsche 911, will win more admiring glances and sounds fantastic. As a driver’s car? Well, it still lags behind the user-friendly Porsche – and the brilliant McLaren 540 is only a few bucks more…
A nice problem to have.
It’s almost Easter and I don’t want to upset you with a photograph of something very ugly indeed. The shocking thing is, the ‘something’ in question is inside the Mercedes AMG GT S.
They say that beauty is only skin deep and in this case, they might be right. Because although the Merc grand tourer is exceptionally pretty to behold, it isn’t so cute from the driver’s seat.
Yes, it’s another case of the ugly carbuncle of an infotainment system. Standing proud on the dashboard of the GT is a screen that looks like it was screwed on as an afterthought.
Now, I know some manufacturers of lesser cars can magically make a screen disappaear into the dash when not required. It makes for cleaner lines and a more pleasing design.
So please, can Mercedes do the same? The GT is such a gorgeous car that is deserves sp much better in the cabin….
Staying in remote Irish lighthouses is fine – except there’s little chance to update a motoring blog. Internet coverage doesn’t exist and when it does, the moment is fleeting.
So after four days with the GT S I can tell you it is one hot car. Blistering pace, a raucous exhaust note and the sort of head-turning looks normaly reserved for a McLaren.
Park it next to a Porsche 911 Turbo and you will ALWAYS get the plaudits. Yep, it’s that smart.
On the road, the 911 is a more accomplished beast. The Merc feels (and is) big. It doesn’t inspire confidence like the Porsche and you could easily become unstuck on a wet, winding road.
Joyous to steer, my main complaint would be the ridiculously hard seats. A 40 minute test drive probably wouldn’t reveal the problem – besides you would be too in awe to notice.
However, any longer and believe me, for a Grand Tourer, you will suffer a very sore backside. On rough Irish roads the car can be a bloody nightmare after an hour. We had to stop for coffee.
My advice – take a soft cushion…
I have a collection of sunglasses. Mostly handed out as gifts at press events, I generally stick to my own bug-eyed Raybans.
The most expensive pair are made by Zegna. They’re beyond cool and for a gentleman ‘of a certain age’ you really have to be in the right place to wear them out.
Today is definitely a Zegna day, thanks to the AMG GT S. This is no AMG go-faster version of a Mercedes. This is an out and out sports car with brute force and incredible looks.
It’s all wrapped up in an aluminium body that makes the AMG irrestistable to drive.
We’re just off to catch a ferry to Ireland. Provided I can find some wifi in the west, we’ll be back with more tomorrow…