Morgan will build only eight units of the off-road focused roadster.
British retro-style car maker Morgan has surprised its supporters and much of the sports car world by launching a limited-edition off-road version of its recently launched Plus Four roadster, dubbed CX-T, which is “designed explicitly for overland adventure”.
CX-T pays homage to historic Morgan cars
Gets modified suspension and underbody protection
Comes with BMW xDrive electronic differential
Morgan CX-T: what is it?
The car, which made its public debut at Salon Privé, has a three-fold purpose, according to design chief Jon Wells, who has harboured a desire to produce an off-road Morgan for years. First, it is an opportunity to demonstrate the strength and rigidity of the new CX monocoque platform that underpins both the new-generation Plus Four and Plus Six models. Secondly, it pays homage to the historic durability of Morgan cars, demonstrated in extensive endurance victories in the 112-year-old company’s earliest days. Thirdly, says Wells, it recognises the fact that many Morgan owners have tackled “extraordinary adventures” even in their standard models.
Morgan CX-T: off-road hardware
Together, Morgan’s and Rally Raid’s engineers decided that the standard Plus Four chassis and powertrain could fit the bill, if equipped with modified Plus Six suspension arms and bushes, much bigger wheels and tyres and EXE-TC coilover suspension units, which are well proven off-road. Together, these measures have increased the ground clearance from a standard 120mm to 230mm.
There is a five-piece underbody protection system, including a front impact guard, an engine guard, a rear chassis guard, a mid-section shield and a new rear undertray. The exhaust system is redesigned with its outlets in the car’s extended rear flanks, so as to not limit ground clearance.
The CX-T keeps the Plus Four’s standard two-wheel-drive set-up and its transmission is mostly standard, but it adopts a BMW xDrive electronic differential – with bespoke software – that provides three driving modes, including full locking differentials in extreme conditions. It also runs a shorter final drive ratio than standard to compensate for the larger diameter wheels and tyres with the wheel arches widened for more clearance.
Morgan CX-T: underpinnings and powertrain
The CX-T is recognisably based on the Plus Four, although it now has a bespoke composite hard-top and a prominent tubular roll-over cage. It is highly modified to maximise luggage and equipment-carrying capacity. There is an internal roll cage as well, that is bolted to the original structure. But despite all of the additions, the weight is less than 1,300kg, which is a remarkable achievement.
Under the hood, the CX-T carries over the BMW-sourced 255hp, 350Nm, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine from the Plus Four. This engine comes mated to a 6-speed manual transmisission.
Morgan CX-T: design
The traditional sloping rear panel of the Plus Four has been replaced by bespoke side panels and an equipment rack designed to carry two spare wheels, several 'ruggedised' Pelican cases, a tool box and twin petrol and water containers. All equipment has been painstakingly designed for secure carriage but quick release. Wells and his colleagues are also designing bike racks and roof boxes to suit prospective owners’ special instructions.
Morgan CX-T: availability
Building of eight CX-T's has already begun at Morgan’s factory at Malvern Link, Worcestershire, and all cars should be complete and ready for road registration by the end of the year. Morgan officials are guarded about whether more CX-Ts will be built if the model is successful, although they agree “it could happen”. Meanwhile, only three of the initial CX-T batch remain available to new owners and they are likely to be sold soon.