Krug Off-Road Weekend – Biberach, Germany

We have for 2 years been investigating our future in terms of overlanding travel. We swapped our large and luxurious Niesmann Bischoff Flair 920 for our current Hymer MLT 580 just over a year ago to enable us to get off-road and to move places in mainland Europe. Although we were hoping it could take us further, our plans have now reached higher and further, partly as a result of the freedom our MLT have given us and we do not think it can take us where we now want to go.

In 2021, we visited Abenteuer Allrad, the overlanding show for Europe and we went off down the path of Unimogs as a result, doing an off-road course and visiting one of the top manufacturers, Hellgeth in Germany. However, reluctantly we discounted them, as although we do love Unimogs and they can take you anywhere off-road, realistically this is a small percentage of your travel time and not enough to compensate for their reduced performance cruising on tarmac.

Also in 2021, we hired an ex-army Mercedes Atego with a Bliss cabin in Iceland for 10 days, which was phenomenal and a definite encouragement to our future travel plans. However, the Atego was unrefined too and not as capable as the Unimog off-road.

In the background has always been Krug’s Project Rhino cabin offering, rated at 7.5t and based on a new Mercedes’ Atego 1023 4×4 with the best layout and storage of anything in that class we have seen. In February, we visited the Krug Explorer factory in Schladming, Austria and met with their sales team and we were given a demonstration of the Atego on the road. However, due to licences / insurance we could not drive it ourselves.

At the wheel of a Project Rhino

However, Krug had got an an off-road weekend planned in April, which after many more weeks of anticipation, we finally joined on Friday at the Mercedes Off-road test centre in a quarry near Biberach, Germany. We were able to camp on site and when we arrived we pulled up besides a brand new Mercedes Actros based Krug, which the owner had literally collected from the factory that morning and was gamely going to drive it round the off-road course with some other Krug owners and an instructor this weekend. Jerich and Corrina were polishing their new pride and joy when we arrived, which seemed slightly redundant, based on the plans for the next day.

The little, large and the ginormous

Through the afternoon and evening, another 6 enormous Krugs arrived with their owners, most based on 18t+ Mercedes Actros, though also an EXCAP reconditioned 40 year old Steyr, which looked brand new after literally being taken apart and rebuilt. All the owners were really friendly and although we had pretty much no German and they gamely preserved with English from school days, we had a really interesting conversations about what they had bought and why and what they planned to do with them. Also, crucially and reassuringly they were all very positive about their experiences with Krug, which was the other reason for our attendance.

Saturday was day 1 of activities for the weekend, with breakfast, lunch and a barbecue planned, amongst workshops and also of course, getting to go out with one of the Krug team in the Project Rhino. The owners were all spending the day with an instructor who led them round the track with a G-Wagon providing instructions and briefings on the various obstacles and how to tackle them.

Krug Owners Off-Road Training

We enjoyed a really interesting workshop with Offroad-Motorhome Services. One of our concerns about getting a newer vehicle, although it was our preference, they also held the risk of complicated electronics and potential difficulties to repair. Kevin in his extensive research to get us to this point, had looked at lots of older vehicles for that reason. However, Marcus was able to allay our worries on this completely, as he sells diagnostic kits which include OBD-II readers for the engine management computer and remote support worldwide from their team to identify the error and ship parts as required to fix.

O-M Services – providing vital answers to our remaining questions

The benefit of a newer engine being they can tell you what is wrong, if you know how to ask it. Marcus also had a solution for poor quality diesel and high altitudes, which we expect to find on our travels. Kevin can even do the basic servicing such as oil changes, filters etc and they will update the computer to reflect the service. Marcus works with the Mercedes dealership in Frankfurt and travels around the world for Mercedes to provide technical support. He also has also travelled 150,000 miles with his family around the world, so really knows his stuff about what to expect.

So happy 😀

Finally, it was our turn for a trip out in the Project Rhino, around the track, or at least some of the easier parts of it. However, just to get the chance to drive it ourselves, off tarmac, was what we were looking for and we encountered water crossings, deep mud and rutted tracks which it handled brilliantly. The super smooth automatic gear box and light but responsive power steering was a world away from the Atego we drove in Iceland. We were both beaming as we chucked it about the track with ease. It glided over the rutted tracks with its much more responsive suspension, unlike in Iceland where I was literally thrown out of the air-suspended seat.

Off-Road and in the water 💦

In short, it probably took us both only 5 minutes to decide we had found the right truck at long last, though we had to wait until we could talk together alone to agree. To cut a long story short, we had another drive on Sunday which also went very well and have entered into discussions to place an order. We are so pleased we went along as the whole experience of meeting other owners, attending workshops and driving it ourselves settled any remaining doubts.

Test drive done 😀

It was also amusing for us to meet all these owners with their huge 10-18 tonne trucks with up to 6 wheels. They all though we were crazy I think for getting a “little” one. We also met several owners who had orders for the big Krugs in progress. They had had to go through the trauma of a war starting in Ukraine whilst their precious truck was in build there, nothing to the terror of the Ukrainian nation, but a personal stress for them all. Krug did an amazing job of looking after their Ukrainian team and also keeping production going in Austria and now with additional capacity in Latvia I believe. We are certainly happy to be supporting a partially-Ukrainian company.

Overlanding here we come…

So, it looks like our dream of the Pan-American highway may have taken a step further forward. Although we have a long way to go yet. Plus also, every Project Rhino sold makes a contribution to Nkombe Rhino, who work to protect endangered Rhinos in South Africa. Maybe one day we get to drive there in our Project Rhino to see it for ourselves 😁🦏😎

Saving the Rhino

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