Unicat has a history of building some of the world’s most impressive off-road motorhomes, and even the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t keeping it from dropping jaws with new rugged-but-luxurious designs. Originally planned for a debut at the now-postponed June 2020 Adventure & Allwheel show, Unicat’s latest MAN monstrosity is thoroughly optimized for social distancing from the grim realities of the “new normal.” The 6×6 MD56c boasts a full two weeks of fully disconnected autonomy, and while it’s way too large for many off-road tracks and trails, the side-by-side that it carries on its back is ready to continue the journey through the tightest, gnarliest squeezes.
As with past builds like the MD77h, the numbering of the MD56c comes from the 5,600-mm (220-in) length of the motorhome module secured to the brutish MAN TGS 26.540 6×6 chassis. That module is constructed from self-supporting fiberglass-composite sandwich panels, its floor a combination of composite and an integrated steel frame attached to the MAN chassis via a three-point kinematic mounting system. Total vehicle length specs in at 8,160 mm (321 in), and the truck’s six wheels are spread by a 4,000 + 1,400-mm (157 + 55-in) wheelbase.
Access into Unicat’s fiberglass living module is available via both a driver cab pass-through and a teak-topped staircase through the side door. To the side boarder’s right, the roomy dinette fills out the front of the cabin, offering seating for up to six on its two benches. The power-adjustable center table drops down to create a 140 x 200-cm (55 x 79-in) bed.
On the other side of the entry door, the large kitchen area has a dual-zone induction cooktop, stainless steel sink, teak countertops, microwave oven, dishwasher and 130-liter fridge with 65-liter freezer. The drawers include tightly packed non-slip dish dividers to ensure you don’t arrive at camp after a bumpy ride to find a pile of ceramic shards.
Keeping the induction cooktop, microwave and other electrical appliances firing is a large 1,200-Ah/24.6-kWh lithium battery bank hooked up to an 1,850-W solar panel array, dual inverters and a full monitoring system. A Honda portable generator provides a backup solution, but the battery-based electrical system itself is designed to keep things running off-grid for two weeks. The dual-tank 600-L fresh water supply is designed with that same timeframe in mind, and the 980-L diesel fuel reserve offers up to 3,300 km (2,000 mi) of driving range.
Unlike some expedition-grade motorhomes from Unicat, the MD56c doesn’t try to mirror the entertainment options of a residential home. There’s no mention in Unicat’s rather comprehensive, 10-page build sheet of Apple TV, a huge HD display or even a sound system, leading us to believe this one was built for a buyer who prefers to enjoy a simpler overland traveling experience … or at least as simple as you can get inside a huge motorhome with two-week off-grid power supply.
The MD56c floor plan is finished off with a central dry bathroom across from the kitchen and a rear 160 x 200-cm (63 x 79-in) heated queen master bed.
Unicat’s poly foam-insulated living cabin remains comfortable in all types of climates thanks to a dual heating system and 2.3-kW air conditioner. The faucets are fed by a water heater and frost-proof plumbing system.
Unicat models often have motorbike carriers on the back, but the MD56c takes things a step further with a carrier large enough to hold a side-by-side or two motorbikes, plus spare tire. It’s not quite the most impressive expedition vehicle-carry system we’ve seen, an honor that still goes to the Action Mobil Atacama 7900 and its Suzuki Jimny-swallowing rear garage, but it’s certainly a boon to those looking to play or explore on a 4×4 vehicle shorter than a bus. A cab roof rack with built-in lightning rod and branch guard adds more on-vehicle storage, and side lockers provide additional storage accessed from the outside.
The MAN TGS comes powered by a 532-hp diesel engine with 12-speed transmission and all-wheel drive system with central, front and rear differential locks and gear reduction. Unicat’s truck also includes rear-axle steering for enhanced maneuverability, tubeless beadlock tires and a central tire inflation system.
The driver’s cab has two primary seats with air suspension, heating and ventilation, and an additional two jump seats that convert into a bed. As such, Unicat stresses that the truck is optimized for two people but can accommodate up to four or five. The cab also includes a GPS navigation system, rear-view and 360-degree camera feeds, and full climate control.
The MD56c weighs a staggering 19,800 kg (43,650 lb) when filled with fuel and water, offering a payload over 7,000 lb (3,175 kg). The motorhome body was built this year atop a 2019 MAN TGS chassis. It’s available immediately for a cool price of €1,389,000 (approx. US$1.5 million), before tax.
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