I love big buses, off-roading and recreational vehicles. As you could imagine, it’s not easy to satisfy these separate loves all at once unless I get behind the wheel of a modded school bus. The mind-boggling TORSUS Praetorian is perhaps the answer with its high ground clearance, manual transmission and 4×4 capability, all while retaining enough room to seat 35 or provide a spacious living space.
We’ve covered the mammoth bus before and it seemed they really only existed in prototype form. The people of TORSUS International are pushing to actually sell the things and gave the bus and its website an overhaul. That site overhaul now includes a frankly addictive configurator that allows you to build your very own off-road bus to take you to the ends of the Earth.
TORSUS International is based in the Czech Republic, but it actually has some experience here in America. The company launched in 2008 as Pulsar Expo and it handled passenger vehicle fleet sales before supplying the U.S. Department of State with around 200 vehicles in 2015. In 2017, the TORSUS Praetorian project was started and spun off as its own company.
The goal behind the Praetorian — which, perfect name — is to build a bus that could handle the harshest environments for the harshest jobs. TORSUS imagines these things transporting mine workers, being extreme overland rigs, or getting medical supplies anywhere.
I’d definitely say mission accomplished.
The Praetorian rides on a modified MAN truck chassis and attached to it is a neat bit of kit. It runs selectable four-wheel-drive with front, rear and centre differential locks. It also comes with meaty 46-inch Michelin XZL all-terrain tires and there’s an optional central tire inflation system to air them down or up for the terrain.
Holding the bus up is a steel parabolic suspension with the option for an air suspension in the rear.
It can tilt some 33.5 degrees, and has 32 degree approach and 26 degree departure angles. I also love how ground clearance is advertised from the lowest point: 15.7 inches below its axles.
Powering the rig is a choice of three MAN turbodiesel straight six engines that range from 240 HP and 309 kg-ft torque to 290 HP and 383 kg-ft. You can get that power transmitted through a nine-speed manual with a crawler gear or a 12-speed automatic. So, this thing has some seriously good bones.
The bus portion is pretty awesome, too. It has a steel skeleton made to twist when the bus traverses harsh terrain. Attached to it is a body of colourful plastic panels.
But what makes it a good RV platform is how the rest of the bus body works.
The walls are lined with non-woven Polyester, and PE foam lowers noise levels. TORSUS is particularly proud of the air-conditioning system it made with Webasto, which is advertised as being able to cool a full bus from 60 degrees to 30 degrees in just 3 minutes, or from 60 degrees to 20 degrees in 15 minutes.
That air-conditioner can even keep the engine cool in extreme conditions.
Heat comes from a radiant wall panel that keeps things at 20 degrees when it’s -10 degrees outside. Additional heating comes from radiators under each seat.
What this sounds like is an RV that you can climb an active volcano with.
It’s like the bus of a James Bond villain. An overland RV was advertised on the TORSUS site until its most recent update. I’ve reached out to the company to see if that rig is still available and to see how many of these actually exist.
Until then, you’ll probably lose way too much time in the configurator. I only scratched the surface of what these things have. Oh and in case you’re thinking of buying one, they start at about $US187,800 ($252,760) before you add oh so many accessories.