The Morgan CX-T Has No Reason to Exist, But It's Wonderful That It Does

·6 min read
Photo credit: Morgan
Photo credit: Morgan

There is no rhyme or reason why the Morgan CX-T is A Thing. Taking a standard Morgan Plus Four, throwing Dakar-spec overlanding gear at it courtesy of specialist Rally Raid UK (RRUK), and turning it into a go-anywhere, do-anything adventure car is the stuff of fever dreams. Yet here it is. There will only be eight made, and all eight have already been sold to customers who happened to have £170,000 ($230,000) on hand.

Photo credit: Morgan
Photo credit: Morgan

The CX-T was born at the beginning of 2020 as a sketch in Morgan’s design studio, a sort of Morgan/Marvel What If ...? episode: What If … the Plus Four could climb a mountain? This was then spotted by someone very high up who decided it would be the right car for the firm to produce. A meeting was set up; the project was green-lit.

It’s easy to assume that the CX-T is a quick-and-dirty tires, lights, and spade-on-the-back job, a sort of soft-roader for the well heeled. It very much isn’t, because RRUK doesn’t do things by halves. Both RRUK and Morgan worked to make sure the car upheld their values: go-anywhere ability while looking like a car from the days of yore. As such, the car comes with toughened suspension and chunkier tires for grip in any situation. One of the saddlebags bolted to the front hides a hard-core air filter. The electrics have been raised, so most of the cabin can be submerged and the car will keep going. The car gets a raised side exit tailpipe for similar reasons, and the car’s underside is mostly metal plating so it can drive over pointy things without ripping expensive things off.

Photo credit: Morgan
Photo credit: Morgan

The kit on the back is neatly laid out for direct access; there aren’t any layers to remember to put back on to make things fit. Its traction treadboards are made of military-grade grippy stuff, so when you get stuck you shortly won’t be. There are neat touches, like insulated food bags attached to the seats, roof mounts for the car’s windows to keep them out of the way when you don’t want them on the car, and a map light that’s an incandescent bulb rather than LED; years of Dakar experience has taught RRUK that after hours of hammering around the wilderness in the pitch black an LED is murder on the eyes.

That’s a lot. Underneath all that is pure Plus Four. Morgan’s CX platform is unfiddled with; the BMW-sourced 2.0-liter turbo is mated to a six-speed stick and kicks out 255 hp and 258 lb-ft. At the rear is a BMW xDrive differential that can be opened or closed to varying degrees whether you’re in Road, All Terrain, or All Terrain EXTREME settings.

Inside, looking past all of RRUK’s desert-navigating toys, it’s a Morgan Plus Four. The starter button’s in the right place; the seats come with familiar upholstery; and unless you screw them on, there are no windows. The doors close with a reassuring thunk. On start-up it sounds aggressive and burbly, and gets more so when you press the Sport button. At a slow crawl, there’s the odd squeak and rattle as Morgan’s hand-built nature shines through. The gas pedal is smooth, brakes keen, and clutch decently weighted. You begin to wonder exactly what’s so special.

Photo credit: Morgan
Photo credit: Morgan

Pointing it at rough, lumpy, dusty, uneven terrain and kicking the crap out of it reveals what’s special: everything. Where normally dipping a Plus Four’s wheel near a tiny pothole would make drivers nervous, here you’re actively encouraged to head for it at pace. Big tires mean anything smaller than the car itself probably won’t bother it. Small bumps are absorbed. Bigger ones bounce you around, but the car stays straight and true. With a turbo four on board there’s no shortage of torque; speed builds pleasingly fast, even as an immovable lump of rock looms. When it does, the brakes do a solid job to slow you.

It’s pleasingly slidey, which enables fun showboating in the dirt. Only the rear wheels are driven. The Morgan road car moves around pleasingly, so it’s no surprise this CX-T does too.

Photo credit: Morgan
Photo credit: Morgan

As you drive faster, dustier, braking later, and give this Morgan more and more punishment, there’s a moment where you expect something very expensive (the whole car) to bang in a big way: a wheel to come off, the roof to make a bid for freedom, the map light to drop impotently off into a footwell. That moment never comes. Bangs, crashes, rattles, loud squeaks: They’re all present, but it never feels like the CX-T will fall to bits. In fact, as you get used to the car, flinging it around becomes a one-handed job. The other can rest on the door while you ponder how much more continent there is to cross before you reach gin.

Clearly a challenge is needed. The CX-T can handle lumps and dust all well and good, but what about something with a steep entry? You have to give it a bit of grunt to get the car up and over, but it doesn’t get stuck. It doesn’t even notice it. While mud may make you wish the front wheels were driven for a moment, the rubber solves the problem instantaneously.

Photo credit: Morgan
Photo credit: Morgan

It feels as though in the right hands the U.K. is unlikely to have something that the CX-T can’t brush off. Though if it does it’ll probably involve rain and therefore be distinctly unfun to tackle. The rest of the world might throw up some challenges.

By no means should anyone go in thinking this is a perfect car. The steering is strangely light, which can be disarming when searching for steering lock during an “Oh balls, I forgot to brake!” moment. The weekly shopping won’t fit in it either.

Photo credit: Morgan
Photo credit: Morgan

There is no need for a car like this to exist. It is stupid. The number of people who could actually make a sensible case for this thing is infinitesimal. Who cares? No matter how ludicrous a concept the CX-T is, the moment you get in you’ll have a big dumb grin on your face. It’s a joyous thing that’s here because someone saw a design sketch and went “Yeah, go on then.” For that reason alone it’s awesome. The fact it turned out to be as capable as it looks makes it more so.

No matter where the eight CX-Ts end up you know they’ll be able to trundle to the shops whether they’re around the corner or up a mountain. Just hope the lucky owners don’t buy too much.

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