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Mercedes-Benz launches the Unimog U529 - 'It's like a Swiss Army knife on wheels'

2018-11-21 09:12

Naresh Maharaj

Unimog Merc

Image: Naresh Maharaj

In the beginning, there was the horse. Then came the motor car and with it, years later, the tractor as we knew it. What was really missing was a vehicle that could do it all, a Swiss Army knife on wheels.

The Mercedes-Benz Unimog is an all-wheel-drive all-rounder, with amazing capabilities, as you will read much below. Let me make this bold statement here that the Unimog makes molehills of mountains.

'The work starts where the road ends'

The new Unimog U529 sets the new standard as a robust and versatile specialised truck, delivering on the Mercedes-Benz "trucks you can trust" brand promise and is true to the slogan: "The work starts where the road ends…."

READ: Mercedes' new Unimog strikes the perfect balance between versatility and speed

The Unimog is a new concept in the South African agricultural industry offering significant farming versatility with haul speeds of up to 80km/h.

Naresh Maharaj

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The Utility vehicle has a six cylinder 7.7 litre Mercedes-Benz Euro 5 engine, that is equipped with an engine compression brake and offers maximum torque output from as low as 1150 rpm making this an exceptionally flexible engine.

Fuel Saver

The Unimog is exceptionally fuel efficient when compared to a conventional agricultural tractor when employed in applications requiring high speed or high power to weight ratio.

The central tyre inflation system (CTIS) allows inflation and deflation of the vehicle tyres while the vehicle is in motion. The advantage of the CTIS is that it offers excellent traction, protects the soil, prevents compaction, and avoids wheel-spin leading to excessive tyre wear when operating in the field.

Naresh Maharaj

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When operating in a high-speed transport mode the tyres are inflated on the move to highway pressures ensuring fuel economy and predictable vehicle handling.

The multi-purpose utility vehicle has an optimised weight distribution providing excellent traction when required to pull hard as well as safe and predictable handling when running at high speed on the road. The on-road and off-road demonstrations proved this to our amazement.

A utility vehicle for all seasons

The key concept behind the Unimog U529 is its versatility allowing it to be used in all four seasons, fulfilling agricultural roles including manure spreading, high-speed haulage, crop-spraying, fertiliser spreading, mowing, raking, baling, firefighting and combine harvester chasing.

Naresh Maharaj

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Again, the ease that the various implements were hitched on and off the Unimog was astonishing. The average time consumed per implement that was rigged on and off was 12-15 minutes and that was really pleasing and well received for the numerous farmers that were present at the demonstration.  

The Unimog U529 boasts the following features that make it a serious contender in the agricultural contracting and medium to large scale farming arena:

• 40t gross combined weight, offering a legal payload of up to 25 tons with an appropriate trailer configuration.;
• Low ownership costs, and low fuel consumption when compared to standard agricultural tractors running in transport applications;
• Long maintenance intervals (1200h or one year) between oil changes;
• Robust and field proven Unimog drivetrain technology;
• Central Tyre Inflation System (CTIS) to reduce compaction and increase traction in the field;
• High ground clearance with low centre of gravity thanks to the use of portal axles for row crop applications;
• Safe high-speed capability up to 80km/h due to truck steering geometry, two stage engine brake and truck type full air brake system;
• High productivity due the year-round usage potential and versatility;
• Long travel coil spring suspension on both axles offering excellent driver comfort and the ability to traverse rough ground at high speed.

The Unimog is designed as an implement carrier, adapted for agriculture use, with the added speed of a truck, and incorporates Mercedes-Benz safety technology.

Unimog Merc

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The Unimog U529 is custom built to meet each end users’ requirements and can be specified in many different configurations for each customers’ exact application. 

The unit as demonstrated is equipped as follows:


• Mercedes-Benz OM936 Engine 7.7 litre 6-cylinder inline engine producing 210kw and 1150Nm.
• Two stage engine compression (Jake) brake.

Implement connections

• A Cat 2 front three-point linkage plus a Cat 3 rear three-point linkage. 
• A 540/1000rpm rear PTO offering up to 200kw of available power.
• The option of a front 540/100rpm PTO offering up to 160kw.
• Four electronically controlled hydraulic spools.
• A closed-circuit variable displacement hydraulic pump offering up to 110l/min with a maximum pressure of 240 Bar.
• An optional open circuit gear pump arrangement is available which can offer 2 x 125l/min @ 280 bar for use with implements such as hydraulic mowers.
• An automatic clevis and pin style tow-hitch mounted on a height adjustable ladder frame.
• A fixed 80mm trailer ball hitch rated for three tons-imposed loads.


• Tare weight approximately 8 000kg
• Maximum front axle mass 6 000kg
• Maximum rear axle mass 8 000kg

Ergonomics / Operation

• Modern Drivers Cab with high comfort, safety and exceptional forward visibility.
• A Standard camera system is employed with up to four remote cameras available.
• All Equipment, hydraulics and drive functions are driveable via the multi-function joystick.

Drivers Cab

• Optimal view of front mounted implements
• Panorama windscreen 
• Light package with work and roof spot lights
• Charcoal filtered cab air conditioning /heating system

Drivetrain concept

• Permanent all-wheel drive with driver selectable centre and cross-axle difflocks.
• Portal Axles on long travel coil springs attached to the chassis via parallel torque arm system.
• Brake system is a full air system actuating dry discs on all four wheels with a fail-safe spring actuated parking brake on the rear axle.
• High speed trailers can be braked via the standard full air trailer brake system.
• Auxiliary braking is via the powerful engine compression brake.

Central Tyre inflation system (CTIS)

• Allows inflation or deflation of tyres on the move.
• Tyre pressures are adjustable from as low as 1.2 bar up to a maximum of 4.5 bar depending on the type of tyres employed.
• Vehicle speed is limited according to tyre pressure and load to prevent tyre damage.

The multi-functional capabilities of the Unimog is what sets it apart from its competitors. More efficient, more economical and more environmentally friendly. 

Final Word: The Unimog is not just a vehicle. It’s an entire all in one fleet. It’s a truly unique vehicle concept.

Standard Warranty

The new Unimog U529 comes standard with a 4 year/or 5000-hour warranty. Sales and aftersales support is available from selected Mercedes-Benz truck outlets in Gauteng, KZN, Mpumalanga, Free State, Western and Eastern Cape.

Price on application but as this vehicle is made for the medium to large scale farmer, expect the starting price to be around R4m.

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