Extraordinary operating test in South Africa.

Reporter Justus Visagie tests the adaptability of the Unimog.

First a drive through one of Africa's most difficult off-road courses and then on to a schoolyard as an ice cream truck – Justus Visagie puts two Unimog vehicles with crewcab through their paces for "Transport" magazine. And demands a great deal of the Unimog U 4000 and U 5000. At the end of the day, the South African reporter is impressed by the diversity of the special trucks.

Unimog U 4000 / U 5000.

  • Engine: 4.8 l, 4-cylinder diesel, direct injection, intercooler, turbo charger; cold start down to -18°C
  • Output: 160 kW / 810 Nm
  • Transmission: 8 forward gears, 6 reverse gears; automated manual transmission or fully-automatic; all-wheel drive; differential lock at front and rear
  • Ground clearance: ± 470 mm (depending on tyres)
  • Fording depth: 0.8 m or 1.2 m (with optional additional equipment)
  • Maximum speed: 90 km/h with engine speed limiter
  • Tank: 145 l

A home game for the Unimog.

At almost 3 m high, the Unimog vehicles standing by on the premises of Daimler headquarters in South Africa are difficult to miss. Thanks to its qualities evident even in the most difficult terrain, the Unimog has reached almost legendary status here, Justus Visagie reports. Identical with regard to technology, the Unimog U 4000 manages up to 3.5 t, whilst the U 5000 copes with up to 7 t.

Impressive traction on the off-road course.

Reporter Justus Visagie has chosen a particularly hard nut to crack for the Unimog vehicle's first operating test: the red U 5000 faced its first challenge at the Gerotek test site close to Pretoria. It is not without reason that the site considered to be one of the most difficult off-road courses – usually it is military vehicles that are thoroughly tested here.

The Unimog, equipped with eight forward and six reverse gears as well as a tyre pressure regulator masters all of the extreme positions to the complete satisfaction of the tester. However it was still reassuring to be able to rely on his co-pilot as well as his own driving skills during this first trip with the Unimog: Ferdi de Beer, Special Trucks expert from Mercedes-Benz South Africa.

What is particularly positive is the flexible suspension, the trademark of the Unimog, the reporter said. If the right front wheel hits a hole, for example, the front half of the suspension leans to the right. This means that the left rear wheel remains flat to the floor without lifting thus maintaining full traction. Justus Visagie is also extremely satisfied with the generous ground clearance of the U 5000.

Causing a stir in the suburbs.

That much off-road action calls for more – but another test is waiting for the Unimog now. This time it has to prove itself in traffic in the suburb of Germiston with young passengers on board. To do that the red Unimog U 5000 with manual transmission is replaced by a white U 4000 with automatic transmission and two further co-pilots: Sihle and Mpumi are on their way home after the last school lesson. Neither of them is able to hide the enthusiasm that seeing the monster triggers in both fellow pupils and passers-, explains Justus Visagie. The Unimog sets off, making its first stop at the duo's favourite ice cream parlour. Then off they go to the schoolyard. Can you enjoy soft ice cream high above the ground out of the Unimog vehicle's window? No problem!

A reward for a successful test.

After this successful test everyone gets what they deserve at the famous KwaLichaba Chisa Nyama Carwash & Pub in Soweto: the Unimog radiates once more thanks to a polish and the enthusiastic testers get a well-earned refreshment in the form of local specialities such as braaivleis, pap and chakalaka.

Justus Visagie's verdict: the Unimog impresses both on giant rocks and in an urban environment!

Order further detailed information on the Unimog for off-road operations easily and free of charge now:

The extreme off-road Unimog

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