...we checked the availabilty of potential vehicles based on our requirements
Realistically the main use will be on the road. However, the vehicle should manage all kind of dirt tracks, not neccessarily hardcore offroad tracks (deep mud, sand dunes). A good ground clearance, a permanent 4x4 drive and difflocks are therefore a must.
Comfort is more important to us than extreme offroad capabilities. That is the reason that our vehicle should have an alcove.
The vehicle should have a high level of self-sufficiency for at least 2 weeks (with solar power, batteries and additional water and diesel tanks), still leaving enough payload.
The 3.5 tons class was not an option for us due to limitations in comfort and because of too many compromises. The >7.5 tons class is "oversized" for us, and also impractical: We don't want to drive such a huge truck through small villages or in the city. Not to mention the huge maintenance costs and the driving restrictions for >7,5 ton vehicles in Europe. So our goal was to stay in the 7.5 tons league.
The overall size should allow a high level of comfort within the cabin (separate shower and bathroom, two good beds etc.), but should still be compact enough to ensure
drivability. So another goal was to stay below 7m in length.
(As of 2016) The vehicle choice in the 7.5 tons class is very limited.
Apart from exotic chassis such as the Bremach, Bucher Duro and the Fuso Canter, there is only the Iveco Daily or the Mercedes Sprinter available as a
The Iveco Daily is available with a max weight of 7,2 tons, but only with
4x2 drive. There is the possibility to order a 4x4 conversion by Achleitner.
The Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 is available with a max weight of 5,3 tons. With a 6x6 conversion package from Oberaigner a max weight of 7 tons is possible. However, such a three-axle vehicle is technically very complex and has some disadvantages in our view (fuel consumption, tire usage, etc.). Also Iglhaut offers 4x4 conversions for the Sprinter. However, such conversion packages are very expensive: Only for the chassis and including the Achleitner or Oberaigner conversion package the total bill would exceed EUR 100,000 (without the cabin).
There are older 7,5 ton chassis available such as a Mercedes 914 or an Iveco 90-16 and they have lots of fans because of their simple technology. But we don't want to drive around with an oldtimer as we are not mechanics. There are also some trucks availabe downsized to 7,5 tons like the Mercedes Atego or the Unimog, but they have limited payload and an alcove wouldn't be possible.
So at the end of the day there was only one option left: a used Mercedes Vario 4x4. Luckily we found an ex-army Mercedes Vario 4x4 from 2011 in a top shape. The Vario was produced until 2013 and provides robust truck technology. The ideal choice for our project.