Morgan is known for a rather traditional approach to vehicle design, though there have been changes of late. In July 2019, Morgan bade farewell to its steel chassis with sliding pillar front and leaf-spring rear suspension, to be replaced with its CX-Generation bonded aluminium platform. Even more unexpected is the engineering team’s latest development: the Plus Four CX-T all-terrain car.
This is no SUV though, it is a development of its iconic Plus Four sports car, inspired by Morgan’s history of competing in all-terrain endurance trials. Morgan cars have been competing in and winning trials competitions since 1911, and following the launch of the Plus Four in 2020, Morgan partnered with Rally Raid UK, a builder 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 buyers 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 final preparation and setup at Rally Raid UK’s 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.
Rally Raid UK undertook a complete study of the standard Plus Four to determine the possibilities for the off-road conversion. This study included durability assessments of the platform, drivetrain and suspension systems.
The suspension has been designed to be tough and expedition ready, with a drive-over obstacle clearance of 230mm achieved using modified Plus Six wishbones. These wishbones widen the track and allow for the extra arc of movement required to achieve off-road suspension performance. The wheel arch apertures have also been modified, allowing the suspension to compress deep into the wheel well, for maximum traction and stability.
EXE-TC coilover assemblies with internal bump stops are fitted, developed by EXE-TC specifically for the vehicle. These assemblies are born from off-road competition, and are calibrated to provide a balance of compliance and durability.
In addition to the main suspension hardware, the lower suspension arms contain bespoke bushes that further increase durability while maintaining composure and comfort.
A five-piece underbody protection system – comprising an engine guard, rear chassis guard, mid-section shield and rear undertray – helps 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 the 230mm ground clearance.
The Plus Four CX-T uses a BMW X-Drive electronic differential with bespoke software, calibrated and tested for off-road application. The driver can choose between three modes to suit different driving conditions, each of which 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 of 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 to suit all-terrain driving.
The Plus Four CX-T also looks a little more rugged than its road car sibling, with the rear panel replaced with an equipment rack, with unique side body panels designed to be reminiscent of the classic four-seater Morgan. The rack houses two ruggedised and waterproof Pelican luggage cases, a Zarges aluminium tool/storage box, two Rotopax 11-litre containers and two spare wheel/tyre assemblies.
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 storage and equipment have been 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, while the removable side screens can be mounted onto the roof of the vehicle, allowing them to be carried unobtrusively.