Portugal is such a beautiful place.

Heading down south for an expedition in the Unimog U 4023 – a travelogue.

The last expedition from "Lost Cultures, Forgotten Heroes" with a Unimog took the team to a beautiful European destination: Portugal. And their trusty sidekick for the adventure was a 231 hp, almandine red metallic U4023 test vehicle with a spacious motorhome body from bimobil. The vehicle dimensions of 7.00 x 2.48 x 3.60 metres gave the bodybuilder plenty of freedom to come up with some clever stowage space solutions. And let's face it, it's an impressive piece of engineering, weighing in at 9.8 tonnes.

Made for adventures.

In addition to a fording depth of 1.20 metres and a ground clearance of almost 50 centimetres, the approach and departure angles of the Unimog are also plenty big enough. Even steep uphill climbs of 45° are no problem thanks to its reduction gear.

Technological assistance is provided by a reversing camera with a screen mounted in the ceiling area on the co-driver's side. The well-organised and clearly structured dashboard enables comfortable access to all controls.

Also noteworthy is the unusually generous feeling of space on-board, with plenty of headroom in the cab. Besides plenty of space behind the seats, there is also a practical stowage compartment between them. Plus, as an optional alternative to this, it is also possible to select a third, albeit non-sprung, seat.

Power off-road.

The Euro 6 four-cylinder OM 934 engine series delivers 900 Newton metres of torque from 5.1 litres of displacement and starts with an impressively sonorous sound. Gears are pre-selected using the selector lever of the automated 8-speed manual transmission. And the vehicle also offers the possibility of engaging gears using the gearshift paddles or, in difficult driving situations, to switch to completely manual operation using the clutch. To do this, the driver has to pull a lever above the clutch pedal which enables the pedal to be folded down and used as normal immediately after.

Start in Munich.

The Unimog starts moving with just a light press of the accelerator pedal. After setting off in Munich, the approximately 600-kilometre journey initially takes the team along the motorway in the direction of the Ruhr region. The Michelin XZL 365/80 R20 tyres on the two-piece Hutchinson aluminium rims with beadlock only start to hum upon reaching 90 km/h. At this speed, the engine remains very quiet and, thanks to cruise control, the journey is completed entirely stress-free. With the tyre and transmission combination of the vehicle, it would theoretically even be possible to drive at a speed of around 110 km/h.

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On the road over hill and dale.

The next day's task is to cross France. And to do so almost entirely toll-free, the route takes the Unimog along the "routes nationales" and through all of the small villages. This is precisely the right type of route for the U 4023 to demonstrate its dynamism during load changes. But to drive through these tiny and tranquil towns as comfortably as possible, it makes sense to switch the transmission to manual mode. Although this doesn't reduce the shift times, it does leave the driver the freedom to decide for themself when exactly they wish to engage the next gear. An advantage of this is that it helps prevent any unplanned loss of torque, which is particularly beneficial on winding roads, as well as on climbs and descents.

Drivers of expedition vehicles can be sure of a couple of things: passers-by looking at them with wide eyes and die-hard Unimog fans taking photos of the Mog.

The fun factor is assured in any case!

 

Lost Cultures Team, Overland Journal

After three days driving in what can only be described as a comfortable vantage point, the team safely reached their destination. And once in Portugal, the Unimog can show off its performance to the max: the route takes the team along gravel tracks, passing by former mines and through a number of remote locations, not to mention vast amounts of beautiful backdrops. Secluded beaches are easily accessible when the all-wheel drive system's front, centre and rear locking differentials are engaged. The selector switch for these is ergonomically located within easy reach on the dashboard.

In deep sand, the tyre pressure has to quickly be reduced by the TireControl plus tyre pressure control system in order not to lose traction. To this end, three preselectable modes (road, sand and rough roads) with corresponding speed information are available. If their respective guideline speed is exceeded, the display shows an appropriate warning. In especially demanding situations, the tyre pressure can even be manually adjusted while driving. The centre display shows the pressure of each tyre.

Expedition successful.

In the following days, the Portugal expedition in the Unimog extreme off-roader continues through small fishing villages and lonely landscapes to some very beautiful beaches. This is nature at its finest.

By way of a summary, the Lost Cultures team logbook entry reads: "The U 4023 is the ideal platform for a real expedition vehicle. With its wheelbase of 3.85 metres, it is extremely capable in off-road terrain – as long as you heed the laws of physics, that is. During the test drive, the Unimog consumed around 21 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres despite the very varied terrain. In every driving situation, the driver remains in complete control. That said, the lateral support of the seat cushions could be better and the co-driver would also benefit from a second armrest. But the fun factor is assured in any case!"

Photos: Tristan Brailey

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