► First ever off-the-shelf, all-wheel-drive wilderness survival bus
► Has a design connection to the Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG 6x6
► Megabus is no longer the most mega bus in the world
It won’t have escaped your notice that the title of this website is CAR, rather than BUS Magazine, and yet here we are looking at what is inescapably a 35-seater coach not entirely unlike the one that took you on a Year 9 geography trip.
This is not just any old bus though, as you can probably tell from the pictures of it charging across muddy terrain and wading through small lakes. This is the Torsus Praetorian – the world’s first off-the-shelf 4×4 on- and off-road bus, with input from the design team that brought you the Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG 6x6.
Just like a National Express coach this Slovakian-built bus can carry lots of people and their things over long distances. However, because it has a heavy duty four-wheel drive system and massive tyres it can do so over rocks, sand, snow and ice, rather than just up and down the M4.
Cool. But why?
Other than because it looks excellent, we too were at a bit of a loss why the world needed a vehicle like the Praetorian. Have a flick through the brochure though and dozens of practical applications reveal themselves beyond being the transport of choice for Dwayne Johnson’s stag do.
Industrial transportation is the most obvious, moving people around mines and quarries and the like, and to help the emergency services reach tricky locations. Then you scroll down a bit further and the possibilities get a bit more lifestyle – a ski bus with working kitchen, an overland style camper van conversion - plus various military builds with names like Assault and Offensive complete with digital camo and puncture-proof wheels.
Our favourite by far is the motorsport team bus with meeting space and carrying capacity for two motocross bikes. Not only does it have garage space in the back but it’s also black and lime green and looks like it could easy compete in a Rally Raid stage.
Presumably the Torsus Praetorian has a substantial engine?
Cleverly the oily bits are all provided by MAN, one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of commercial vehicles, so the Praetorian will fit in alongside your existing fleet and you should have no trouble with servicing or finding spare parts.
Under the bonnet is a massive straight-six diesel displacing 6.9-litres and sending 237bhp and 682 lbs ft of torque through a semi-automatic ZF gearbox. Numbers like those suggest suitable flexibility in challenging terrain even when fully loaded, and being a two pedal bus means you can concentrate on not driving off a cliff Italian Job style rather than on clutch control.
All the running gear is MAN derived too so you get two hefty axles with parabolic leaf springs (these are lighter and more flexible than their standard counterparts) plus two locking diffs and massive 395mm-wide Michelin XZL TL off-road tyres.
Helping it traverse difficult terrain is 389mm of ground clearance, a 700mm wading depth and a reinforced floor ‘resistant to hard exploitation conditions’, which sounds like a challenge to us.
Does it come with migraine inducing upholstery and a broken VHS?
No you’re thinking of your school bus again – the Praetorian comes well-equipped with three-point seat belts for everyone and a DVD player with central screen, so your passengers can watch old Bear Grylls episodes on the way to the trail head.
It’s also got those big open overhead racks for storage with air con vents and lights built in, like a Megabus, although the sky’s the limit with how you want the interior configured.
Either way the driver gets one of those bouncy pneumatic seats for off-road hijinks and a rear view camera to avoid reversing up to 13 tonnes of bus through a Tesco Metro.
If you do plan on doing the latter it’s probably worth speccing the optional heavy-duty bull bars front and rear - but the good news is that all Praetorian models feature fibreglass panels while a special Line-X scratchproof coating and stone-chip resistant glass.
I want one, how much does it cost?
The standard Praetorian will set you back 155,000 Euros, which is quite cheap when you consider you could easily spend the same amount on a car with less torque and only two seats, rather than 35. Plus, if you need to move that many people off-road at the same time, it’d cheaper and takes up less room than a load of SUVs.
With that ridiculous mathematical justification to one side it’s pretty clear that this is a specialised vehicle with a remit that is at best described as ‘niche’. That said, it’s extremely cool and we want one.