It may sound like a dishonorable act implemented by members of the primate family, but the German word aufladung is pretty impressive when implemented properly. Roughly translated, it literally means “forced induction,” and being that today is Turbo Tuesday, what better way to celebrate the amazing effects of aufladung than with one seriously badass piece of German engineering? Go ahead, try to say it out loud without laughing.
What you see in front of you is none other than the all-wheel drive behemoth known as the Mercedes-Benz “Zetros 2733 A 6×6.” Based loosely off a semi with its cab-behind-engine layout, it offers sensational traction and versatility, and unparalleled living arrangements. This rugged road house on wheels really is perfect for anyone wanting to get away from it all… really, really far away from it all.
The triple-axled truck typically weighs in anywhere between 25 to 27 tons and has a payload that reaches 16 tons, which translates to needing a metric shit-ton of torque on tap. According to Mercedes-Benz, the powertrain and chassis configuration on the Zetros comes out of the Actros and Axor series of full-size work trucks, but it gets turned up to eleven thanks to a unique Unimog/G-Class 6×6 approach.
Powered by a 7.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine, this lumbering beast only puts down around 326 horsepower, so top-end speeds are not its forte. But with around 1,000 foot-pounds of torque on tap between the 1,200-1,600 RPM range, there’s no denying the tire-churning capabilities this goliath has to offer.
Buyers can either opt for the hydraulically/pneumatically shifting nine-speed manual transmission (eight forward gears + crawler), which has a direct-ratio top gear, or they can get the six-speed Allison 3000 SP/PR automatic. The permanent all-wheel drive VG 1700 transfer case on this truck alone has proved its worth over the years, and at 1.690, the off-road ratio in the 6×6 is about 20% lower than its all-wheel drive road-going cousins, so crawl control is a strong suit here. Towing capacity has also been increased by around 70% when compared to the on-road gears, and torque distribution between the front and rear axle(s) is 1:3.21 within the splitter box, which becomes 1:1 if the differential lock is engaged.
All together this thing has three mechanical differential locks, all of which can be easily selected via a rotary control that shows the logical sequence in which the locks need to be engaged. Drivers start with the center-axle before engaging the rear, with the front remaining as the final option, reserved for when terrain is at its most extreme.
Over the years, the Mercedes-Benz Zetros has been converted into hunting and expedition machines, forestry service vehicles, and mobile fire stations. With its padded sleeping area for the driver, specialized air conditioning system, upgraded audio set up, Bluetooth capabilities, and 7-inch touchscreen, the cabin alone is a king’s castle. Outside the cab, a carrier system sits atop alongside four auxiliary spotlights and a twin air horn, and the radiator grille houses four flashlights in red and blue.
Out back there is storage for two spare wheels, a dedicated lift system that enables cargo to be hoisted effortlessly onto the roof, and when backing up the rearview camera activates additional spotlights. While both vehicles seen here have relatively identical bodies, one of them has a rear vehicle bay for storing ATVs, which adds a bit of additional length. All told, the Zetros comes in at well over 35 feet in length (37 feet for the model with the ATV bay), it stands almost 14 feet high, and is about nine feet wide.
All of this girth is there for a reason though, because outside of treacherous road conditions, the people who buy and drive vehicles like this typically take on some of the most extreme climatic conditions in the world, and that means having one hell of a versatile interior. Remember, heavy-duty insulation guarantees cabin comfort, but it also adds quite a bit of bulk to the already enormous German monster.
Inside the camper, all of the interior features have been carefully designed and crafted in order to withstand the ass-kicking conditions found in daily off-road operations. While the furniture was specially designed to hold up to the kind of abuse found in tropical and desert regions, it’s things like the use of a six-person leather seating layout and the heated marble floors in the bathroom that catch our interest.
While the full galley kitchen still has our eye as well, the large master bedroom in the back, and the sleeping space in the living area call for relaxation time. The table in the seating area can be electronically raised and lowered too, so once it is flush with the floor an additional bed pops out for snoozing.
But back to that badass galley kitchen: it comes fully loaded with a ceramic counter, microwave, grill, fridge/freezer combo, bar, and coffee maker. The sink features both hot and cold water, dinner settings for eight comes standard, there’s a mobile twin-burner gas cooker for outdoor grilling. When it’s time to clean up, the bathroom has a shower cubicle that is separate from the bidet. Hell, there’s even an on board water filtration system that keeps everything potable.
The master bedroom in the back is separated by a wall that houses a duo of integrated 40 and 46-inch flatscreen TVs on either side, and since the Zetros’s original intended use was to be a hunting vehicle, there is a safe for valuables as well as a permanently integrated gun safe on board, which guarantees the safe transportation and storage of firearms.
The Zetros comes equipped with satellite TV, a DVD/CD player, an MP3 player, a Bose surround sound audio system, a Mac Mini, and its own WiFi hotspot.
Everything on board the Zetros is controlled and monitored by a command center, and a water-cooled diesel generator secures independence from the grid even when the solar energy captured along the roofline doesn’t deliver enough juice. All of the batteries that make this all possible are charged via an automatic charger that is connected to the generator, and the aforementioned solar panels consist of two units that offer 80 watts apiece.
The central air conditioning system is powered separately so that it can be variably adjusted for each room, and electric ventilators can be found in both the bathroom and the galley. A diesel-powered heater resides in the living room, which can be operated either when stationary or on the move. There also is a fold-out outdoor shower, complete with hot water, for those times when you really feel the need to get back to nature after getting splattered by something… natural.
It may have been around for a few years, but this seriously has to be one of the coolest machines we’ve ever seen. With its practical living accommodations and rugged off-road prowess, it’s no wonder we included this Benz in our cheat sheet of preferred vehicles for the zombie apocalypse. The Zetros 6×6 is a $1 million RV that takes all-terrain capabilities and blends it with Mercedes-grade ride comfort and world class amenities, and then boosts everything up to eleven. That’s a lot of aufladung…