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New Mercedes Unimog debuts to the cheers of little boys everywhere [w/video]

Sat, 27 Apr 2013

The Mercedes Unimog, the superhero villain of the off-road world that's just waiting to make the jump to Transformer, has been completely upgraded for its new generation. There are ten models, expanding the range and getting new designations across the traditional all-terrain series and the implement-carrier series. Panoramic cabins get more visibility, multifunction steering wheels and better dash clusters, improved HVAC and a three-mode central tire inflation system. Outside, there are new items like LED headlights and daytime running lamps in the bumper, roof-mounted windshield wipers and a front-camera monitor for the implement carrier.

The new engine lineup is compliant with Euro VI, featuring four- and six-cylinder BlueEfficiency engines putting out anywhere from 156 horsepower to 354 hp. Powerplant placement has also been tweaked, the chassis members getting a revised curve to place the engine a bit further back and lower, maintaining off-road clearance and lowering the Unimog's center of gravity. The new location of the engine means the cabin has more room, and the wheelbase is shorter. Combined with a higher turning angle, the Unimog has a smaller turning radius than before.

The implement carrier gets what's called a "synergistic traveling drive," the bonus being that drivers don't need to stop in order to use an attachment – a hydrostatic transmission works with the regular manual transmission at up to 31 kilometers per hour for seamless switching.

Those are just a tiny number of the changes in the new Unimogs. You can find out enough about them in the two videos and three press releases below to become a certified dealer.

New set-up for Unimog and Econic

Strong new image for globally unique concepts - Unimog and Econic: Cleaner, more efficient, more powerful

- BlueEfficiency Power engine generation with four-cylinder and six cylinder engines from 115 kW (156 hp) and 260 kW (354 hp)
- Powerful and environmentally acceptable: Thoroughly renewed with state-of-the-art drive technology, control concept and cab
- Unimog: New unique synergetic traction drive sets new standards in competition
- Econic: Up to 4 percent lower fuel consumption
- Econic: same payload despite Euro VI

World premieres from Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks: A Unimog product range with ten new models at one go – from the Unimog U 216 to the Unimog U 5024 – and 2 and 3-axle versions for the Econic low-entry specialists vehicle introduce the era of Euro VI engines also for special vehicles. All this is combined with an appreciable increase in performance, efficiency and easy operation. Despite the challenges arising from the Euro VI emission standards involving additional components and an increased volume of 120 litres, it has been possible to retain and improve the concept advantages of the two vehicle product ranges.

As the new Europe-wide Euro VI emission standards will be valid from 1 January 2014, Mercedes-Benz is rounding off its range of commercial vehicles including the Atego, Antos, Arocs and Actros by launching the two special vehicle product ranges Unimog and Econic to comply with the new regulations. The new engines have up to 90 percent fewer exhaust gas and particulate matter emissions than those used up to now.

New structures for the Unimog product range
In the new set-up for the Unimog implement carriers, the Unimog U 216 and U 218 replace the previous Unimog U 20 as compact entry-level models and are getting closer to the versions with stronger engines now known as U 318, U 423, U 430, U 527 and U 530. Here the first number denotes the size (for instance 4 corresponds to the current Unimog U 400), the following two numbers stand for the first two numbers of horse-power performance, for example 23 for 230 hp. They are all being launched with, amongst other things, a completely redesigned panoramic cab, new work and power hydraulics systems as well as synergetic traction drive which allows changing over from manual transmission to hydrostatic transmission while driving and all of these innovations make an appreciable difference to the efficiency of the Unimog. The extremely mobile off-road Unimog U 4000 und U 5000 have also been given a more advanced design in important details and are now known under the reference numbers U 4023 and U 5023.

For the Econic – the 2 and 3-axle chassis versions now as 4x2, 6x4 and 6x2/4 with electronically steered forward and trailing axles – the concept of the low-entry cab has now been given more potential with a great number of important ergonomic innovations. In addition, it is clearly more cost-effective as it has reduced its fuel consumption and repair and maintenance costs. However the payload remains the same despite the Euro VI.

Facing the future efficiently with BlueEfficiency Power
Two BlueEfficiency Power model series engines with radically new designs ensure that the Unimog complies with Euro VI emission standards and is also much more efficient especially when using implements as here greater output is available. The Econic has also been given two engines from this generation: engine types OM 934 and OM 936 with three 4-cylinder and two 6-cylinder versions and performances ranging from 115 kW (156 hp) to 260 kW (354 hp) with cubic capacities of 5.1 litres and 7.7 litres. The state-of-the-art drive units combine low fuel consumption with extremely clean exhaust gas and ensure that the Unimog is on the road altogether more efficiently despite the great amount of effort invested in its construction to ensure that it complies with Euro VI. For the Econic it has been possible to achieve up to four percent lower fuel consumption. The engines - already successfully used in the Antos and Atego - are very convincing with their improved output and torque and clearly increased acceleration over the whole transmission range. Despite the Euro VI the fuel consumption of the Unimog has also been reduced.

High-tech drive units from a state-of-the-art engine generation
The new solenoid injectors with ten-hole jets provide the best possible injection for every working situation. These new, long-stroke engines with cooled exhaust gas recirculation and a specific engine output of up to 33.8 kW/l (46 hp/l) are among the most effective diesel units. The new 5.1 litre 4-cylinder version also produces a convincing top torque of 650 Nm for the entry-level model Unimog U 216 with 115 kW (156 hp) which remains constant over the whole of the main transmission range from 1200 to 1600 rpm.

The six-cylinder gives a powerful performance
The performance spectrum of the big 7.7 litre in-line 6-cylinder OM 936 follows directly on the heels of the extremely compact four-cylinder version. It is used in both the U 427 and U 430 as well as the U 527 and U 530 and here for both versions with 200 kW (272 hp) or 220 kW (299 hp). This means that the Unimog has been given top-level motorisation. The best torque result lies at 1200 Nm for the 1200 to 1600 speed range. The Econic has been fitted with 6-cylinder engines providing an output of 220 kW (299 hp) and 260 kW (354 hp).

Economy of space on compact chassis
Great importance was also attached to economy of space when complying with the exhaust gas cleaning standards required by Euro VI which comes into force on 1 January 2014. This was a task which faced the designers with demanding challenges considering the compact chassis of the Unimog vehicles and also the low-entry concept of the Econic. In addition to the recirculation of the exhaust gas inside the engine, cleaning the exhaust gas also involves a system comprising the oxidation catalytic converter, a closed particulate matter filter, AdBlue injection and an SCR catalytic converter connected in a series.

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New set-up for Unimog and Econic

Unimog U 4023 and U 5023: Setting standards for off-road mobility

- Perfection off-road, better handling with centrally-positioned engine
- New BlueEfficiency Power Euro VI engines with higher output and higher torque
- Chassis concept with torsionally flexible frame, torque tubes and coil springs retained
- Strong and reliable, many details improved
- New engine power take-off with increased applications

The outstandingly mobile off-road Unimog with its new reference numbers U 4023 and U 5023 as the follow-up models for the U 4000 and U 5000 is now more environmentally acceptable and efficient, but still just as mobile off the road as its predecessors and even stronger – that means better all round. It is fitted with the new four-cylinder BlueEfficiency Power BlueTec 6 engine with an output of 170 kW (230 hp) and a strong torque of 900 Nm. The Unimog transmission has been improved and uprated so that the gear changing times are shorter with an increased life span. In future the gears will be changed using the pitman arm on the steering column and this also includes the electronic quick reverse function (EQR). As up to now, there are eight forward and six reverse gears available as well as the optional crawler gears for off-road use with a speed range between 2.5-35 km/h. The main difference between the two big Unimog vehicles lies in their axles and frames i.e. their axle loads and the gross vehicle weights which is a maximum of 10.3 tonnes for the U 4023 and 14.5 tonnes for the U 5023.

Time-tried cab with a short bonnet radically reworked
This cab is first class – it has left its mark on the appearance of the outstandingly mobile off-road Unimog since 1974. The designing engineers were confronted with the challenging task of installing technology complying with Euro VI and they succeeded by repositioning the engine one metre further back under the cab and this is now the core of the new concept. In comparison with its predecessor, the new cab has been lengthened by 120 mm and is slightly higher – and by moving the transmission controls from the central console to the pitman arm on the steering column there is much more space in the interior of the cab.

This cab has also been upgraded with its new fittings: The multifunction steering wheel, adjustable steering column, pitman arm control, multifunction touch-keys and instrument cluster with a large display as well as a new stronger heating and ventilation system provide the very best conditions for the driver. The central tire inflation system "Tirecontrol Plus" has been redesigned so that the correct tire pressure for the prevailing conditions can be chosen simply and easily in the display with the pre-programmed modes "road", "sand" and "bad surface". From the outside the dynamic design of the radiator and the new bumpers with modern headlamps show at the first glance that here there is a new generation of the Unimog on the job. Also the access to the cab is completely new with easy to master and safe steps, two or three depending on what the customer requires.

The altered position of the engine also allows power to be taken directly from the engine with an engine-driven PTO so that implements can be run independently of the driving situation unlike the transmission-driven PTOs which are still available.

Perfect for off-road operations
The big advantages of the extremely mobile off-road Unimog such as its outstanding handling over tough terrain remain untouched and in individual points its strengths have been improved. In the new model, the curving of the frame is now further back due to the central position of the engine and altogether the Unimog has a lower centre of gravity while retaining its high ground clearance which is extremely important for off-road operations. As both frame and tubular cross members are welded, this guarantees the extremely good torsional flexibility of up to 600 mm when driving cross-country. The axle articulation of up to 30° is made possible by the torque tube technology combined with the coil springs by connecting the torque tube and the torque ball to the transmission. Portal axles, the low centre of gravity and extremely good angles of approach and departure (at the front 44°, at the rear 51°), and ramp angles (34°) as well as its slope climbing ability (45°) all go to make the outstandingly mobile off-road Unimog just what it is – and in addition there is its fording ability of a maximum of 1200 mm as well as its side tilting angle of 38°. Driving in extreme situations is supported by the engageable all-wheel drive, engageable differential locks and the central tire inflation system.

Unimog vehicles have a long life and they are robust and reliable. The completely welded frame and the enclosed parts of the chassis stand for the claim that the vehicle is able to stand up to great stress and strain. The axles are reinforced, all important power units and equipment are metal clad or installed in safe positions – and this is also true for fording ability within the guaranteed depth of 1200 mm.

Extreme operations the world over
All this shows quite clearly just why the outstandingly mobile off-road Unimog has such an excellent reputation all over the world. Working in extreme off-road conditions is the order of the day, whether it is fighting forest fires, for disaster control, crane operations, pipeline construction, expeditions, rescuing man and machine and last but not least for transporting crews and other people – in remote areas where the roads turn into bad tracks and rough terrain, that is where the Unimog U 4023 and U 5023 are on home ground.
The Unimog is also looked after perfectly as far as maintenance, trouble diagnosis or repairs are concerned as competent Unimog Dealers are there to take care of the vehicles in over 650 service stations in more than 130 countries where special service packages and financial services round off the customer care.

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Unimog U 216 to Unimog U 530: New powerful implement carriers

- New entry models Unimog U 216 and U 218
- Work and power hydraulics
- World premiere: Smooth changeover from driving with hydrostatic traction drive to manual transmission precisely designed for the job
- Unimog versatility: Over 1000 implements and applications

The product range of the Unimog implement carrier launched in 2000 is now being presented in the second generation with a new arrangement and new designations. U 216 and U 218 as entry-level models and the U 318 and U 423 are fitted with four-cylinder engines, U 427, U 430 and U 527 as well as U 530 have six-cylinder units. As the end of very work-intensive design engineering, the Unimog implement carriers are now once again at the starting block – more efficient, environmentally acceptable and cost-effective than their predecessors and in addition with their typical features greatly strengthened.

New exterior: Panoramic cab with a modern design
The panoramic cab presents itself in a new and modern design. Here the optical and functional effect of the short bonnet is emphasised even more by LED lamps including daytime running lamps integrated in the bumpers. To improve visibility, the windscreen wipers have now been fitted on the roof over the windscreen giving a superb view of both road and implements, and improved even more through the new front camera monitor system. Typical for the Unimog: The front power take-off reveals its powerful technology and power-hungry implements.

New interior: Operating concept provides the best working conditions
Multifunction steering wheel, adjustable steering column and stronger heating and cooling system with improved air flow make both drivers and co-drivers feel happy. The operating controls have been improved so that there is now a steering column pitman arm to operate driving functions such as gear changing or engine brake. The instrument cluster for driver information is new and has a large, light display; the joystick for operating implements can be removed and held in the hand; the uninterrupted view of the front implements – which is also important when attaching or removing them – is made safer with the monitor and front camera; and all this adds up to an appreciable lightening of the driver's load. Using the central tire inflation system "Tirecontrol Plus" (optional) is now much easier via the display as it gives the user the choice between pre-programmed modes "road", "sand" and "bad surface".

New work hydraulics – more sensitive than ever
The new work hydraulics set to precisely and without making any jerking movements – with at the same time about 30 percent increased hydraulic performance. This makes is possible to control the implements more sensitively than ever before. The work hydraulics is completely proportional when working and allows two movements to be performed at the same time via the joystick. The multifunction keys on the steering wheel and the display allow the output to be limited. The hydraulics works with two circuits, whereby Circuit I provides 200 bar system pressure with hydraulic oil flow of 32 l/min, together with Circuit II it adds up to an additional 55 l/min with up to 240 bar. And here the implement drive has been improved even further as the front power take-off now gives a performance of a maximum of 160 kW (up to now 150 kW).

New compact entry models: Unimog U 216 and Unimog U 218
The two entry-level models U 216 und U 218 are completely new. They replace the previous Unimog U 20 and are now very little different from the bigger implement carriers above them starting with the U 318. Models U 216 and U 218 also have the same panoramic cab including the adjustable steering column and the other innovations, as well as the well-known unique VarioPilot where steering wheel and pedals can be moved to the other side of the cab when the operator needs to work from the co-driver's seat. The great advantage of the new models is their size with extremely compact dimensions. The wheelbase is only 2800 mm and is thus 200 mm shorter than the U 318, the turning circle is only 12.6 metres in comparison with 13.7 metres – by the way both of these turning circles are what are to be expected of passenger cars. Power is provided by the four-cylinder engines with 115 kW (156 hp) and 130 kW (177 hp). With three different load ratings from 7.5 to 10 tonnes, the payload of the U 216 and U 218 can cope with a great variety of tasks and applications.

Unimog U 318 to U 530
Even greater performance, more manoeuvrable, more agile and able to do many more different kinds of job: such an all-round increase in efficiency is the trade mark of the Unimog U 318 to U 530. The engines produce a new peak performance as the 220 kW (299 hp) in the U 430 and U 530 provide the strongest hp output ever realised for a Unimog. The advanced work and power hydraulic systems profit a great deal from the engines. Greater efficiency is also provided by the greater payload. Here it was possible to reduce the weight by making savings on the frame and using aluminium wheels. It was also a brilliant feat to be able to shorten the wheelbase by 80 mm in comparison with the former U 300 despite the complicated components needed for Euro VI (U 318 and U 423). Because of this and with the help of a greater turning angle when steering, the turning circle is clearly smaller than that of its predecessor.

New power hydraulics replaces power take-off pumps and special purpose body engines
Power hydraulics VarioPower – for a long time this name has been behind the extremely powerful implement drive in the Unimog. Now it is even more efficient. Two circuits, each with 125 litres of hydraulic flow and 280 bar pressure can perform, if required, several different kinds of job at the same time or one especially sensitive operation – up to a top performance of 58 kW per circuit. This advanced design replaces pumps attached to the power take-off or diesel body engines, for example for mounted sweeping machines and this saves fuel, space and weight. And if the power hydraulics is not needed, then the Unimog can save weight in the vehicle frame – it can simply be removed from its installation location to increase the payload. This new system is operated using steering wheel touch-keys and its data can be read in the display in the new instrument cluster. The power hydraulics is available in Unimog models from U 318 on.

The new synergetic traction drive
The innovative new hydrostatic traction drive for the Unimog implement carrier is also a world premiere and it opens up a whole new range of possibilities for using implements. The combination of hydrostatic and manual transmission allows the driver to change smoothly from one mode to the other while driving. Up to now it was necessary to halt briefly before changing systems. The new comfortable Drive-Work-Mode can be used to advantage, for instance, when mowing grass verges and the work is interrupted by a long noise barrier. The new hydrostatic drive now allows speeds up to 50 km/h (31 mph) and the hydrostatic performance has been increased by 20 percent. Whereas infinitely variable driving and working reduces wear on the clutch and increases work performance, driving with the manual transmission saves fuel because of its increased efficiency. When using the electronic pneumatic power shift (EPS), the driver starts the changeover by pressing the clutch and so starts the optional automatic electronic drive control (EAS) to complete the changeover automatically. This new synergetic system is easily operated by using the steering column control switch, hydraulic joystick or alternatively the accelerator.

Unimog implement-carrying design: More than a 1000 different possibilities
The versatility of the Unimog implement carrier is legendary. In the meantime, more than a 1000 different possibilities are registered. Implement manufacturers worldwide work together intensively with Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks at the Wörth plant - where the Unimog now has its base – to expand the range of operations. The great advantage of the Unimog product range from U 216 to U 530 is its ability to use implements four-fold. There are three attachment points – front, rear and between the axles – as well as the space for mounting bodies and equipment on the chassis. The implements and equipment can be supplied with energy hydraulically, mechanically and electrically. The range of users includes Local Authorities, the energy sector, forestry workers, agricultural logistics, the construction industry or road-rail operators, but the list is long and includes many others. Whether it is working at the airport, cleaning solar parks or clearing snow across the mountains, virtually nothing is foreign to the Unimog and that it is exactly what makes it unique in the world of commercial vehicles - as a versatile implement carrier with the driving qualities of a truck. It also proves its value as a tractor unit with a 40 tonne combination and its technical top speed of up to 90 km/h (56 mph) is absolutely suitable for motorways.

Safety as top priority
Directional stability, precise steering and the use of ABS are responsible for the high level of safety provided by the Unimog. In addition, the extremely good axle load distribution and four same-size wheels have a positive effect on the vehicle's handling qualities. And the Unimog sets its very own standards with the panoramic cab. The panoramic front windscreen, deep drawn down side windows and short bonnet give a very wide view of driving and working areas. What is quite new is the front camera system with a monitor which makes things easier for the driver as it shows him the area directly in front of the vehicle which makes it easier to attach implements.

And last but not least, it is the good off-road mobility of the Unimog which speaks for itself: portal axles, high ground clearance, differential locks, single tires and the ability to rock out of dips (Electronic Quick Reverse).

As far as servicing, trouble diagnosis or repairs are concerned, the Unimog is well provided for with over 650 service stations in more than 130 countries worldwide where competent Unimog Dealers are ready and waiting with special service offers as well as financial services to round off the entire package.

By Jonathon Ramsey

See also: Mercedes-Benz intros long-wheelbase E-Class for China, Mercedes-Benz GLA Concept gets mobbed in China, Mercedes-Benz Concept GLA gets official ahead of Shanghai.