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Editor's take: I hardly remember the Mitsubishi bus on pick n drop duty from my school days, though I suspect things would have been slightly different and a whole lot more adventurous had it been the Torsus Praetorian; the world's first heavy-duty 4x4 off-road bus.
Buses have rarely been an exciting form of transport, given their essential but mostly mundane utility of hauling people around within the strict confines of urban areas. The Torsus Praetorian, however, aims to go a different route and is even sporting a jacked-up chassis with 400mm (15.7 inches) of ground clearance in a robust exterior to show it means business.
Hailing from the Czech Republic, Torsus uses mechanical bits from the German-based MAN, a popular manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks and buses. The engine in the Praetorian is a 6.9-liter inline six-cylinder diesel with 240 hp and a meaty 925 Nm (~682 lb-ft) of torque, while the transmission is a 12-speed TipMatic (semi-auto) unit co-developed by MAN and ZF and features a dual-range transfer case and a front differential lock.
The bus also uses a heavy-duty MAN TGM chassis with parabolic leaf spring axles that ride on chunky 10-hole R20 Michelin tires. These are controlled via a ZF power steering that's available in both left and right-hand drive. The bus has a gross vehicle mass (GVM) rating of 13,500 kg with front and rear axle limits of 6,300 kg and 7,800 kg, respectively.
The exterior uses body panels made from tough fiberglass that's treated to what Torsus calls an "extremely durable and scratch-proof" military-grade Line-X coating. There's also an optional bull bar for the front and rear as well as protective mesh for all windows because when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Although the vehicle's been out for quite some time, it rose to prominence recently after being awarded the 2020 Red Dot award in the Product Design category. "We are very proud to accept this award and it is testament to the skilled work of the TORSUS team and our design partners at Werkemotion who, together, helped produce the world’s toughest and most capable off-road bus." noted CEO Vakhtang Dzhukashvili.
The Praetorian is meant to transport workforce that's employed in rough and tough industries such as mining, forestry, and oil/gas. It's also useful in tourism where a small group of SUVs would otherwise have been needed to journey across unfamiliar terrain, though that's a matter of personal preference as well.
Choosing one, therefore, is a configurator's dream as the Praetorian is offered in a variety of customizable configs, including Safari, Motorsport, Fire, and Recovery Truck, Police Vehicle, and even Trailer-spec. It also costs a pretty penny, with prices for the standard version said to start above $150,000.