Torsus Overlander is sheer off-road camping bus awesomeness
"That's the coolest-looking off-road motorhome of the year, maybe ever!" Only it wasn't. It definitely made an argument as one of the coolest vehicles of 2018; it just wasn't a motorhome like we thought when we spotted it. It was the Torsus Praetorian, a hard-nosed 4x4 bus developed to ferry mining crews about or explore remote drill sites. Happily, it didn't take long for Torsus to find a little time to indulge modern-day Magellans with a look at how its bus can shape up into the coolest off-road motorhome of the year, maybe ever (or one of them, at least). The Praetorian Overlander promises to be a stylish off-grid shelter capable of bursting through rivers and grinding over sliding mountains of toothy rock to reach whatever never-before-typed set of coordinates you're heading for.
The Overlander starts the same way as many a large expedition vehicle, with a MAN TGM chassis. Instead of a truck-like driver cab and living module combo (as on this shining MAN TGM-based example), the fully integrated Line-X-finished fiberglass body makes it something of a Class A motorhome with full off-road capability, a literal all-terrain camping bus. We're not sure how the Overlander will perform against a large camper truck, but its bus body gives the RV a smoother look, in our opinion, something like a raised and stretched VW T3 Syncros off-road camper bus. It also brings some serious window square footage, improving views of the scenery outside.
With a 28-foot (845-cm) bus comes plenty of space to stretch road-wearied limbs, and while actual Praetorian-based motorhomes will be built up to different specifications, Torsus does offer a sample floor plan to demonstrate what an Overlander might look like. The four-berth layout includes a comfy rear bedroom with longitudinal bed and plenty of storage space, along with a convertible dinette up front. Just aft of the dining area, the kitchen packs a sink and cooktop on one side of the aisle, a counter and coffeemaker on the other. A refrigerator and microwave are also mixed in. The wet bathroom separates the cooktop block from the rear bedroom, packing in a shower, sink and toilet.
Torsus imagines its target demographic shopping for added amenities like Wi-Fi, satellite TV and air conditioning, and we're sure anyone with Overlander cash might want to tack on extra luxuries like a washer/dryer and sound system. Torsus doesn't show any fancy slide-out kitchens, tailgate-ready entertainment systems or slide-out terraces, leaving the exterior fairly simple with a pull-out awning and rear bike carrier. The big grille guard up front adds immensely to the Praetorian's angry look.
As far as its off-road cred, the MAN chassis brings along with it a 4x4 system with front differential lock, front and rear parabolic leaf-spring suspension, and a muscular 6.9-liter six-cylinder diesel with 236 hp and 682 lb-ft of torque. The Overlander has 15 inches (389 mm) of ground clearance under the axle, over 27 inches (700 mm) of fording capability, and 32/26/41 approach/departure/break-over angles. A set of 395/85 R20 Michelin XZL TL tires grab terrain by the handful, and with up to 300 liters of diesel fuel capacity, drivers can feel confident they'll keep spinning on the way to distant destinations ... and back.
Torsus hasn't advertised any additional Praetorian sizes, so to add extra transporting capability for outdoor adventurers who might need it, it has rendered up a trailer that looks as full-on Australian Outback-grade as the Bruder EXP-6 GT. The double-axle trailer relies on the same composite construction and shares the Praetorian's styling. It could be built as an empty toy hauler or fully equipped expedition camper, and Torsus shows it with a more compacted version of the Overlander's rear-bedroom layout.
Sales manager Dmytro Kalashnyk tells us Torso intends to sell Praetorian bus shells to third-party conversion specialists to turn them into motorhomes, as opposed to selling fully built motorhomes directly. That means there could be many different configurations, and perhaps none exactly like the one described above. That fact, plus the custom nature inherent in off-road expedition vehicle builds, makes identifying an exact price an impossibility, but Kalashnyk was kind enough to provide an estimated range between €210,000 and €250,000 (approx. US$234,000 and $278,000). We suspect that some customers will be paying a lot more as they load their Overlander up with all kinds of extras.
Torsus has already identified some motorhome conversion partners, including Australia's Bus 4x4, and it plans to add more, focusing that part of the business heavily on the German and Austrian markets. Germany is Europe's largest RV market, home to countless off-road vehicle and camper specialists and the world's largest cross country expedition vehicle show, Abenteuer & Allrad.
Since we last looked at the Praetorian, Torsus wrapped up testing and validation and started deliveries in launch markets, including Ukraine, Chile and Portugal. It's now working on getting the first buses out to additional markets like Australia, Germany and Iceland, building buses in both left- and right-hand drive. So far, no North American distributor, but Kalashynk confirmed American expansion is in Torsus' plans, mentioning motorhomes specifically — a Praetorian Overlander would sure look nice standing next to the EarthRoamers and Sportsmobiles of Overland Expo.
It's not an Overlander motorhome, but this video of the Praetorian bus running a veritable off-road triathlon is a must-watch for anyone who read all the way down here.