20 years on comes the new changed generation

13 October 2000

20 years on comes the new changed generation

After 20 years of Unimog

production, Mercedes Benz

has brought out a new

generation of machines –

the U300 and U400.

Andy Collings reports

IT says a lot about design technology when a machine remains virtually unaltered from its basic format in 20 years. The original MB Unimog achieved just that and, during its lifetime, gained a reputation for reliability and good off-road performance.

But time waits for no one, and with the implication of new standards, such as engine emissions and brake systems, Mercedes Benz has approached the drawing board to produce a new generation.

First glance at the U300 and U400 models (a range-topping U500 version will be available next year) is to note a distinct change of style. Out goes the old square cab look with its front-mounted engine and in comes a softer look – a curved, steeply sloping front which has its engine positioned under the cab compartment.

But the Unimog still retains its go-anywhere appearance. In fact, with the weight of the engine now within the wheelbase, weight distribution is such that traction is improved, says MB. Operator visibility of front-mounted equipment is also enhanced significantly.

Power for the U300 is provided by a 4-cylinder turbocharged and intercooled engine rated at 150hp with an option of a 177hp block. Similarly, the U400 has the 177hp engine as standard and an option for a 250hp power plant.

Transmission comprises an eight forward, six reverse box which increases to a 24 x 24 unit when a creeper range is fitted. Maximum road speed is 85kph.

The new models are fitted with an electro pneumatic gear shifting system (EPS) which can be operated as a form of pre-select. Once on the move, the next gear is selected by rocking a lever forward and, when required the clutch is depressed to allow it to be engaged.

Four-wheel drive is permanent and there are differential locks on the propshaft and front and rear axles. Other transmission features include cruise control and speed limiter mode.

While in the cab it is worth noting the comfortable, roomy interior which has adjustable suspended seats and air conditioning as standard.

But now for the really clever bit. When the Unimog is working with machinery to its left the whole operating system – steering wheel, pedals, dashboard – can be slid in less than a minute to that side of the vehicle, and vice-versa. VarioPilot is available as an option.

Short and long wheelbase versions of each model are available – 3.08m and 3.6m – and MB says that payload capacity has been increased by up to 30%.

A comprehensive range of attachments is manufactured for the new Unimogs, from verge mowers and cranes to snow ploughs and sweepers. Operation can be from the front, rear or deck. A powerful hydraulic system is claimed to be capable of operating the most demanding of implements.

It all adds up to an interesting package but to what extent the new Unimogs will find favour within the agricultural industry is not clear. MB concedes they are carrying and towing machines and not ideal for draft work, even though three-point linkages can be specified.

Some contractors involved in spreading or spraying operations may be tempted but the main thrust of MBs sales efforts will undoubtedly be to the amenity and service sector.


Model U300 U400

Engine (hp) 150 177

Optional hp 177 230

Transmission 8×6 8×6

Payload 4.5t 6.5t

Grnd clearance 37cm 40cm

Suspension Coil spring, shock absorbers.

Braking ABS, ALB*, exhaust braking.

Service interval 1200 hours.

*Automatic Load responsive Braking.

After 20 years Mercedes Benz has launched a new range of Unimogs – the U300 and U400. Features include the ability to move driving controls to the left or right of the cab, in less than a minute.

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