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Morgan Lifecar and Geneva show stars

Published: 28 February 2008

Morgan will line up at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show with its most impressive range of cars ever. The Lifecar concept, the first production AeroMax, a revised Aero 8 and a new 4/4 will all feature.

The Lifecar is easily the most technically impressive. The tiny Malvern-based company, which only produces around 700 cars per year, has built its own hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

Sorry, what? How has Morgan managed to build the hydrogen Lifecar?

With a little help from some friends. QinetiQ makes the four-stack hydrogen fuel, and Cranfield University has developed the electrical management systems.

The fuel cell is designed to run optimally at cruising speed – 20 percent of peak power according to Morgan – and is thus apparently lighter and cheaper than a conventional fuel cell. The only emissions are water, heat and 22kW of electricity, which makes the fuel cell 45 percent efficient, compared to about 30 percent for a traditional petrol engine.

Power is directed to four electric motors which provide drive directly to the wheels. Morgan claims the motors are also able to recapture up to 50 percent of such energy, and reckons current applications only managed ten percent. The regenerative braking system can provide stopping power equivalent to 0.7g, and Morgan claims the switch at low speeds between the regenerative brakes and conventional hydraulic brakes is seamless. If this is true then credit too them: it’s a problem Porsche has been having with the Cayenne Hybrid.

Click 'Next' below to read more about the Lifecar concept

Any energy recaptured is stored in ultra capacitors. Combine these systems with a 650kg kerbweight and Morgan claims the Lifecar can achieve 150mpg on a 250 mile range, reach 85mph, sprint to 62mph in under seven seconds.

Morgan are, of course, claiming that public reaction to the car will determine its production future, but on looks alone it has us won over. The detailing is gorgeous too, from aluminium panels, to the one-piece wooden seats. This is one of the stars of Geneva.

Is Morgan going green across the range?

Not quite. The new Aero 8 has BMW’s latest V8, which is slightly greener than its smaller predecessor. Tweaked to produce an extra 22bhp over the equivalent X5 engine, the 367bhp 4.8-litre will shift the Aero to 60 in 4.2 seconds, and up to a maximum of 170mph.

The lack of weight also helps matters. Morgan claims 315bhp/tonne, which betters the 299 of Porsche 911 Turbo, while CO2 emissions are said to be just 260g/km. An X5 with the same engine manages 286g/km, and the 911 Turbo emits 307g/km.

The new engine means ZF’s latest six-speed auto is now an option, and other changes for 2008 include a repositioned fuel tank for better weight distribution, and more luggage space.

Click 'Next' below to read about the production Aeromax and 4/4 Sport

What about this swanky Aeromax?

At Geneva 2006 Morgan showed a one-off car, built for banker Prince Eric Sturdza, and designed by university student Matthew Humphries. The demand for the car lead Morgan to commission a run of just 100 cars, all of which have already been sold.

The Aero 8’s convertible roof has replaced by gorgeous aluminium panels, while the twin glass rear windows open electrically. The car also uses the new 4.8-litre V8 seen in the revised Aero, and the car also features airbags, cruise control and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

And the 4/4? It must be old?

Indeed it is. In 2008 the 4/4 will celebrate its 72nd birthday, and that means 72 years of continuous production. A record.

As a gift to the car Morgan will introduce a Sport model with a 115bhp 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine. That might not sound like much, but the Sport only weighs 800kg, so it’ll reach 62mph in under eight seconds, and only emit 140g/km. The suspension is lowered, the car is lighter, and is yours for £26,025.

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy