At first glance, the new LEV and X-Pedition models look like regular Class C motorhomes. But appearances are deceptive: they’re actually 4×4 ‘light expedition vehicles’, built on Mercedes’ tough Sprinter chassis. They bridge the gap between compact cab-over RVs and hardcore truck-based expedition vehicles.
In the UK, this cab-over style is known as the ‘Luton’, after the grey and unattractive English hometown of Vauxhall Motors. But we prefer to imagine the Weinsbergs in sparkling sunshine, climbing the snow-bound roads of the Swiss Alps, or cloaked in mist while ploughing through thick Scottish peat bogs.
No matter which model you buy, you get the choice of two Mercedes CDi diesels. These turbocharged, intercooled V6 motors are pretty trick: despite being veritable powerhouses, they also meet the EURO 4 emissions regulations.
The 2.2 liter pumps out 330 Nm of torque, while the 3.0 liter boosts that to 400 Nm. It’s good pulling power, enough to put Toyota’s 4.0 liter Tacoma to shame.
The LEV and X-Pedition share six-speed manual transmissions. They also have a reasonable 4,400 lb (2,000 kg) towing capacity—enough to tow the new breed of stylish Euro Wohnwagens such as the Hymer Troll, or perhaps a camping trailer with a couple of dirtbikes.
Both vehicles have ABS. But the road-oriented LEV also gives you the safety gizmos found on upscale automobiles—like ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) and ASR (Automatic Skid Control).
The X-Pedition does without the electronic driver aids. It’s more hardcore. It sits 7” (18 cm) higher on its springs, has bigger wheels, and can wade through almost 20” of water. It’s also got a differential that can be manually locked by the driver, and a respectable departure angle of 24 degrees. (Most motorhomes have substantial rear overhangs, but the X-Pedition maintains its offroad cred by having a cutaway design at the back.)
The Weinsberg options list includes a tow coupling and a rear ladder with roof rack and kick plate, which looks rather natty in the press shots. You can also add a Multimedia Package with all the usual entertainment options, including a 17” TV, satnav and a video reversing system.
Tempted? Entry level into this range is nearly as steep as the ramp angles, at around €130,000 ($185,000). But unfortunately for well-off Stateside RVers, Weinsberg only sells the LEV and X-Pedition in Germany, France, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark.
Still, if you’re planning that Grand European Tour, these are two vehicles well worth checking out at the hire shop.
If you’re after a smaller but more hardcore camper that you can buy in the US, check out the Jeep-based EarthRoamer XV-JP. And for the ultimate in big expedition trucks, try on a Unicat for size.