Find the actual ends of the Earth and live comfortably with Unicat's MD77h 6x6 expedition vehicle
Much like Action Mobil, Unicat builds some of the biggest, meanest, most diesel-tastic expedition vehicles on the planet. Powerful, oversized truck exteriors finished with soft, feature-packed interiors, these vehicles bring the comforts of home to the most barren, uncomfortable geographies on the planet, including those not really equipped for sustaining human life. The company's latest rig, the MD77h MAN TGS 6x6, packs three axles, 530 hp of pure diesel muscle, and a comfy modern interior with multipurpose kitchen, two sleeping areas, a washer and dryer, and multiple entertainment systems scattered about from the driver's cab to the rear bedroom. Explore whatever obscure corner of the world speaks to you without losing a single warm night of sleep ... or missing out on your favorite Netflix programming.
Based on the MAN TGS 33.540 6x6, the MD77h has the powerful stance of a 177 + 55-in (4,500 + 1,400-mm) 6x6 wheelbase. A 532-hp Euro 5 diesel engine and 12-speed ZF transmission push it over hard bumps, soft muck, smooth pavement and everything between and beyond. A transfer case can take things from front-wheel drive to full 6x6, and locking differentials on the front and rear axles help the driver get out of tricky off-road situations. A tire pressure adjustment system with retractable air hoses at each wheel helps optimize tread for the ground directly beyond the windshield.
The MDh77 is part of Unicat's "individual" expedition vehicle range, a line-up of models built to customer specification. Our article is based on the model that features in Unicat's videos, photos and written materials, but many of the options, including bedroom layout and interior materials, can be switched around according to customer preferences. We reckon half the fun of buying a truck like this is seeing what the company has come up with and the other half is seeing how that company reworks the design around your every need and whim.
The MDh77's driver cab is surrounded by burly branch deflectors and a sturdy roof rack. A set of large auxiliary lights helps to properly illuminate pitch darkness.
Since this truck is engineered to rack up hundreds and thousands of miles a stretch, Unicat ensures that the driver's area is as comfortable as can be. This starts with acoustic insulation to block road noise and includes soft leather and Alcantara upholstery wrapping the space. The bench behind the air-cushioned Recaro driver and passenger seats offers a place to sit or lie down and includes an integrated compressor fridge compartment and a storage chest designed to hold camera equipment.
Having immediate access to a camera is important because this vehicle is built to explore singular places that make for once-in-a-lifetime photo ops. Should it stumble upon such a picture-perfect moment - say a herd of gazelles scurrying across the savanna or the vivid reds, pinks and oranges of alpenglow lighting up the mountains - a hatch in the cab roof provides a way to quickly pop up like a prairie dog and grab the video or still photo.
The satellite dish rests directly over top the roof hatch, so Unicat has developed a slide system to move it out of the way when the hatch is in use. As impressive as the sheer size, power and basic equipment of an MDh77-like vehicle are, it's the little engineering solutions like this dish slide that make it a true modern marvel, creating a seamless experience for occupants.
The driver cab also includes an Alpine stereo system with MP3 connection and a central 17-in touchscreen, which can display feeds from the exterior cameras and also includes inputs for components like Apple TV and a DVD player, offering passenger entertainment on long rides.
The driver should obviously not be paying attention to a movie playing on the touchscreen, but should periodically check the other digital displays, such as the Garmin navigation screen on the dash and the tire pressure readout in the control center above the upper edge of the windshield. That upper control center also includes auxiliary fuel tank readings and control switches, while the navigation console has a pop-up screen for the thermal imaging camera.
That's an awfully cozy driver's cab, and things only get more cozy when you step inside Unicat's 25.3-foot-long (7.7-m-long) fiberglass-sandwich-wall living module, a space where bitter outside temperatures, bleak landscapes and recent memories of mechanical trials melt away, replaced by the warm embrace of home-like comforts. The cabin can be accessed via a driver's cab pass-through or the side door with hydraulic steps and auto-retract insect screen.
A wraparound seating/dining unit for four to five people is located at the front of the cabin, just behind the driver-cab pass-through. Its table drops down to convert the sofa into a 4.6 x 6.6-foot (1.4 x 2-m) bed, and a skylight with retractable cover above lets sleepers enjoy a look at the stars as they nod off. A flush-mounted flat-panel TV provides entertainment driven by a Blu-ray player, TV receiver and Apple TV, with a Bose sound system providing audio. That TV is held in place by a swivel mount and swings aside to access the electrical control panel built into the wall.
At the other end of the cabin, the rear bedroom houses buyer's choice of two single beds or a king-size bed. The two single beds on Unicat's demo model are split by a night stand with entertainment system hardware wired to the wall-mounted TV. A dedicated air conditioner and floor heaters keep the climate comfortable.
The kitchen and bathroom are located across from each toward the center of the MD77h. The latter includes separate shower and toilet areas, and there's a washer/dryer combo in the shower room. A custom sink made from Corian is attached to the toilet room wall.
Many a motorhome kitchen has glass tops that sit over the sink and cooktop to increase countertop space when those appliances are not in use. Unicat takes the concept one step further with a hinged Corian top that blankets the entire kitchen block top to create a clean, flush countertop, hiding the sink and stove completely. So when the kitchen is not in use, it can serve as a sizable table top or general workspace.
The sink below the left countertop panel includes its own wood cutting board cover that flips over and works as a serving tray. The induction cooktop on the other side has two hobs. Directly next to the kitchen block is a full-height 284L refrigerator with 27L freezer, and on the opposite wall, a steam oven.
The MDh77 has a lot of appliances to power, and it does so with an onboard power station that includes a 1,050 Ah battery bank fed by nearly 2,000 watts of roof-mounted solar. A Fischer Panda diesel generator can augment that solar system in creating electricity. A hot water interior heating system and air conditioning keep things comfortable inside. The truck carries 1,170 L of fresh water in four separate tanks and 1,050 L of diesel fuel. A 125-L gasoline pump station at the rear delivers fuel to other vehicles, such as the motorbike on the 1,100-lb (500-kg)-capacity winch-operated rear platform.
Unicat has released much written and video information on the MDh77, but it doesn't list a price. We're sure that price fluctuates wildly, given how much of an open-ended custom build each truck is. Some quick comparison shopping with other 6x6 off-road monster motorhomes suggests that potential buyers are looking at a purchase that runs near or in the seven-figure range.
Unicat announced the MDh77 back in August and added some very good YouTube walk-around videos last month, complete with clear, detailed English narration by engineer Thomas Ritter. The interior video is below, and the exterior and driver cab walkthroughs round out the comprehensive video tour. The videos run between 7 and 10.5 minutes, so you'll need a little time to get through all three, but they are well worth the watch if you're interested in looking over the small details of this larger-than-life truck.