Morgan introduces the all-terrain Plus Four CX-T for overland adventures
Morgan unveils the Plus Four CX-T, a car with adventure at its core. A vehicle with capability not yet witnessed on a Morgan sports car, it opens up the possibility of routes, landscapes and destinations inaccessible by Morgan cars until now.
The Morgan Plus Four CX-T is inspired by Morgan’s well documented history of competing in all-terrain endurance trials. As early as 1911, Morgan sports cars were competing and winning in trials competitions, and this spirit of adventure has been key to shaping the Morgan brand ever since. The more adventurous journeys that are frequently undertaken by Morgan customers all over the world have further fuelled the desire for Morgan to imagine the Plus Four CX-T.
Following the launch of the Plus Four in 2020, Morgan partnered with Rally Raid UK, renowned creator of Dakar race cars, to jointly design and engineer the Plus Four CX-T. One of the aims of the project is to demonstrate the capability and durability of Morgan’s new CX-Generation platform, along with the Plus Four upon which the CX-T is based.
Just eight vehicles will be built, priced at £170,000 plus local taxes and supplied in full overland specification, with each customer having the opportunity to work alongside Morgan’s design team to specify their own CX-T. Every Plus Four CX-T is built at Morgan’s factory in Malvern, Worcestershire, before undergoing the final preparation and setup at Rally Raid UK’s own workshop facilities. Morgan’s design and engineering team have worked alongside Rally Raid UK throughout the programme to define the concept, specification, technical attributes, and aesthetic of the model.
The exterior of the Plus Four CX-T is designed to maximise luggage and equipment carrying capacity, and provide the occupant protection necessary for extreme environments. Simultaneously, Morgan has ensured that its visual design reflects this capability and purposefulness.
Most prominently, the rear panel of the vehicle has been replaced with an equipment rack, with unique side body panels designed to be reminiscent of the classic four-seater Morgan.
The rack houses two ruggedized and waterproof Pelican luggage cases, a Zarges aluminium tool/storage box, two Rotopax 11-litre containers and two spare wheel/tyre assemblies. Additionally, for those who venture further off the beaten track, recovery equipment is mounted on the exterior of the car within easy reach when required. All exterior mounting systems for all storage and equipment have been painstakingly engineered to be tough and easy to access when needed.
The external protective exoskeleton can also be adapted to carry leisure equipment such as bikes and surf boards, to compliment the lifestyle activities of the owner, while the removable side screens can be mounted onto the roof of the vehicle, allowing them to be carried unobtrusively in case of a change in weather conditions.
Rally Raid UK undertook a complete study of the standard Plus Four vehicle to determine the possibilities for the conversion. This study included durability assessments of the platform, drivetrain, and suspension systems.
The suspension has been designed to be expedition ready: tough and fit for purpose. Durability, and a drive-over obstacle clearance of 230mm, has been achieved using modified Plus Six wishbones. These widen the track and allow for the extra arc of movement required to achieve the desired suspension performance. The wheel arch apertures have also been modified, allowing the suspension to compress deep into the wheel well, providing maximum traction and stability.
EXE-TC coilover assemblies with internal bump stops are used, these have been developed by EXE-TC specifically for the vehicle. These assemblies are born from off-road competition, and are calibrated to provide the ideal balance of compliance and durability.
In addition to the main suspension hardware, the lower suspension arms contain bespoke bushes which further increase durability. The combined suspension package is optimised to undertake journeys never before attempted in a Morgan sports car, while ensuring composure and comfort during any excursion into the back country.
A five-piece underbody protection system – comprising an engine guard, rear chassis guard, mid-section shield and rear undertray – helps to protect the chassis and important components from damage when driving in extreme conditions. The car is also fitted with a full bespoke exhaust system with rear side-exit that improves the departure angle and contributes to 230mm of ground clearance.
The Plus Four CX-T uses a BMW X-Drive electronic differential with bespoke software, calibrated and tested specifically for the application. Switches inside the cabin allow a choice of three modes to be selected depending upon the driving conditions; each mode varies the degree of differential lock that is applied. Selecting ‘Road’ mode fully opens the differential, while ‘All-Terrain’ mode applies approximately 45% lock to the rear differential, allowing some variation torque distribution between the rear wheels. ‘All-Terrain – Extreme’ mode fully locks the rear differential, providing equal torque to both rear wheels. The two All-Terrain modes are designed to be used when tackling rough surfaces and low-traction conditions. The final drive ratio has also been shortened to account for the larger diameter tyres and suit all-terrain usage.
Inside the cabin of the Plus Four CX-T features have been added to improve occupant comfort and usability in remote environments. A RAM mount track is built into to the dashboard to allow the secure fixing of a variety of devices such as phones or cameras. A flexible map light, pencil and notebook holder have also been integrated, all designed to withstand operation in harsh driving environments.
Cabin stowage has also been optimised with the addition of a removable map/document holder and insulated cool bag, both located in the passenger footwell. A custom-made first aid kit is mounted to the internal roll cage behind the seats. Just like the exterior equipment, every interior feature has been designed with accessibility and convenience in mind, whether this is for use in remote conditions or the leisure pursuits of the owner. The cabin is enclosed within a composite hard top which is unique to the Plus Four CX-T and has been intricately engineered to fit between the internal and external roll cages.
The Morgan Plus Four CX-T is the second of two special projects being produced by Morgan in 2021, with the first being the Plus 8 GTR. The introduction of the Plus Four CX-T also coincides with the announcement of Model Year 22 updates to the Plus Four and Plus Six, and helps to inform technical and aesthetic advancements for Morgan’s current and future range of vehicles. The Plus Four CX-T is on sale immediately, with all vehicles due to be built before the end of 2021.
Jonathan Wells, Head of Design, Morgan Motor Company, said: “The Morgan design team has been conceptualising modern day trialling vehicles for many years. Around 18 months ago, our investors and CEO, Steve Morris, were in the studio and remarked how incredible it would be to bring one of these drawings to life. The project was unrestrained and born entirely from a desire to create an exciting British adventure vehicle. The CX-T, like many recent Morgan vehicles, demonstrates the flexibility of the Morgan design. For me, it’s a complete package: historical integrity, legitimate capability, and a brand-new adventure-lead aesthetic.”
Mike Jones, Rally Raid UK, said: “Applying my experience of 13 Dakar Rallies, 60 Dakar vehicle builds and a lifetime of overland adventuring to an unconventional sports car such as a Morgan has been an interesting and rewarding project. Having the opportunity to design a car for such a prestigious marque has been a responsibility that I never imagined I would have. Rally Raid UK and Morgan have engaged with industry-leading suppliers to source the highest quality components, as well as designing a range of bespoke parts that will remain unique to the model. The Morgan Plus Four CX-T is a genuine overland adventure vehicle and I look forward to seeing the incredible destinations that owners will find themselves in.”