Unicat's latest 4x4 expedition truck escapes civilization without losing the comforts of home
We're not sure German off-road motorhome builder Unicat really makes anything ideal for maneuvering the tightest off-road tracks and trails, but we do know that the company's latest offering is smaller and more maneuverable than the MD77h 6x6 we looked at last year ... if you can ever rightfully call a 29-ft (8.9-m), 14-ton diesel expedition truck "smaller and more maneuverable." The new MAN 4x4-based MD57 climbs and claws over rock, sand, mud, and perhaps the smoldering ruins of dystopian cities, before sheltering riders cozily in a fully equipped, marine-inspired cabin.
The MD57 isn't a brand-new creation, as Unicat also offers MD57 packages on base trucks from Volvo and Mercedes. This latest version combines a distinctly outfitted living module with MAN's TGM 18.340 4x4 chassis. That means a 6.9-liter common-rail diesel six-cylinder sending up to 335 hp (250 kW) and 922 lb-ft (1,250 Nm) of torque out to the four wheels spread front to back by a 177-in (4,500-mm) wheelbase. That engine operates in concert with a 12-speed TipMatic transmission, and the truck includes center, front and rear differential locks.
Like other Unicats, the MD57 is no weekend warrior – it is designed to explore expanses of barren, off-grid earth for days and weeks at a time. It carries 640 liters of fresh water split between two separate tanks and keeps its 630-Ah/24-V AGM battery bank topped off with a 1,620-W solar system. For dreary days when the sun doesn't even wink, a 2-kW gas generator delivers backup power. A centrally located command center houses controls and readouts for the electrical system, and battery and solar system information can also be monitored remotely. LED lighting features throughout.
To help occupants survive everything from sweltering desert heat to frigid tundra frost, the MD57 includes a diesel heater/hot water boiler and roof-mounted air conditioner. The equipment and plumbing has been secured and routed with cold weather in mind. Hot water is available at the outdoor shower as well as the indoor fixtures.
The MD57 measures 29 ft (8.9 m) in total length, 18.7 ft (5.7 m) of which is occupied by the fiberglass-sandwich walled living module on back. Inside that composite box, the MD57 features a comfortable layout with kitchen area, full bathroom, convertible dining area and fixed rear bed.
Unicat has gone all in on clean, nautical-like styling, sliding teak wood flooring underfoot and applying teak veneers to the furniture. Around the induction cooktop and sink, the stainless steel countertop keeps things cool, clean and professional-grade. The kitchen also includes an oven, microwave and fridge/freezer.
Just ahead of the kitchen area, toward the driver cab pass-through, the bathroom is split into separate compartments for the Sealand porcelain flush toilet and tiled shower. The bathroom area also includes a sink, mirror, cabinets and a towel dryer/heater.
The rear of the cabin is filled out by a 4.6 x 6.6-ft (1.4 x 2-m) transverse double bed just behind the U-shaped dinette, which itself converts into a second bed. Alcantara seat upholstery lends a soft, high-grade look and feel.
The MD57 doesn't have the robust entertainment package we saw on the MD77h, but it does include a Bose 5.1 surround sound system and comes wired for TV and internet. The motorhome also includes a washer/dryer.
Through the pass-through, the driver's cab has two primary climate-controlled seats, along with two extra folding seats that can be converted into a lying area. Also included are a rear-view camera, GPS navigation system, and Alpine audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, CD player and MP3 playback.
The MD57 weighs 27,117 lb (12,300 kg) when filled with water and fueled up with 600 liters of diesel, and has a gross vehicle weight upward of 30,600 lb (13,900 kg). It has plenty of storage inside and out to help you put that extra 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) to good use. Of particular note are the hydraulic-lift spare tire/storage box platform on back (no motorcycle, this time) and large storage box with dual bike rack. The exterior also includes an awning for comfier outdoor relaxation, a driver cab roof rack and auxiliary lighting.
Unicat tells us the MD57 starts at a cool €533,000 (approx. US$655K) after 19 percent VAT. The optioned-out model featured in photos carries a €664,000 ($815K) price tag.