Albania. In terms of area the smallest state in Europe with an undiscovered diversity. Two-thirds of the land surface consist of mountain landscapes – perfect for a little off-road adventure with the X-class by the Skanderbeg mountains !
Above all in relation to the recent events of severe weather and earthquakes you have crashes in the South East European public-to-date with numerous Rock, eroded roads or damaged bridges expect. Refrain from numerous hazards, the country is on the Balkan Peninsula, however fascinating, almost untouched mountain scenery, with wild and romantic valleys and picturesque bays.
In the middle of a beautiful landscape, with a magnificent coastline and a stunning views of the Bovilla Reservoir (which supplies most of the water for the drinking water supply in the Albanian capital, Tirana), we drove almost exclusively on gravel and mud slopes. Similar routes in Europe, mostly in vain. Also rar the cellular coverage, which did not surprise but outside of Tirana for us was, by the way.
X 350 d 4MATIC with 258 PS
For the use of the X 350 d 4MATIC with a 3.0-Liter V6 Diesel (OM 642) came motorization under the hood. Thus, the Pickup brings stately 258 HP and a maximum torque of 550 Newton metres on the road. The power of the six cylinder engine to the gearbox by means of a 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic, and transferred to a permanent all-wheel drive in the ratio of 40 to 60 on the substrate. The X-class is so powerful on the asphalt surfaces on the road and off the paved roads, the drive combination exudes a high degree of sovereignty.
The permanent 4MATIC all-wheel drive with Low-Range gearing and optional differential lock on the rear axle ensures tracks, traction and rough terrain. Three four-wheel drive modes are available: 4MAT for normal driving, 4H for improved traction off-road, and 4L for the terrain. Is switched in this case by means of a rotary knob in the center console.
Pickup with SUV features
X 350 d is fitted to both axles with coil springs. Behind the Pickup in the terrain can be quite a comfortable impression. Hard impacts, such as those on the unpaved routes in Albania can occur, – if it rumbles here over rough bumps and stones – cushioned still good. The ladder frame gives the entire vehicle a very a lot of stiffness and a low Torsional angle. You realize as a driver to quickly, that the X-class SUVs-has properties.
During our off-road Tour, the X climbs to the class easily up any incline on our way, up to a maximum of 45 degrees would be possible. The Pickup is shown here as a pure workhorse. Very rarely one or the other wheel, a bit crazy trying , and if it is, then the propulsion was ensured thanks to the four-wheel drive and the gear reduction anyway. An electro-mechanically controlled longitudinal differential lock in the transfer gearbox (0-100%) ensures the propulsion, as well as cross barrier at the rear and reduction.
In the off-road driving program from the DYNAMIC-SELECT the drive pedal reacts very sensitively and continue to be optimally dosed. The reduction can be even at low speeds, a high torque to the wheels, with the proven six-cylinder offers its advantage.
The ground clearance of about 20 centimeters (shown with Optional 22 cm are possible) as sufficient in the Albanian Hinterland, only a few a Scratching and scraping from the area of the sub-floor was but a listen to. Fortunately, we did not exhaust the maximum fording depth, even if it was a few days earlier severe weather in the Region, and limited us to easily standing water and some mud to ride through. It should be, but again Wet, and then the Pickup of Mercedes used-Benz but at least with a water height of up to 60 inches.
Bad roads are for the X-class, no Problem
X 350 d 4MATIC in Albania – and especially away from the capital Tirana is ideally placed to get to his destination regardless of the road conditions.
In Albania, one has to expect always the Unexpected. Even on paved roads, deep potholes and craters and edges in the road at almost every corner, lurking. But other things, such as Donkey carts or pedestrians (in the most unlikely Places) are always and everywhere as obstacles. And from time to time, even the otherwise normal can worry about oncoming traffic on narrow slopes for the problems.
Due to more than bad weather we did not at night, however, an Overnight stay in a tent and used a nearby Hotel on our route.
In spite of the bad streets, you can see SUVs or Pickups in the Balkan state, however little. The roads in Albania, on-site, you will notice the quite high number of old Mercedes models. Not surprising, the brand with the star of the local population for decades as a Symbol of longevity and robustness.
So you can see the Sprinter in its first Generation as a very popular transport vehicle of the Albanians. In the passenger Car segment, it is the 190 “Baby Benz” and the follow – up C-class model series W201 or the E-class series W210 as like to taken locomotion – preferably of course with a Diesel engine!
Albania – country on the move
Many in Albania are, however, currently still as a very backward and run-down, which is due to the long time between corruption, crime and lack of environmental awareness is not surprising. In 2004, Albania was considered even as the country with the worst environmental pollution in Europe, where emissions and waste water, groundwater, and soils, and pollute the air. The cause is what is lacking here in many places for adequate waste disposal.
Currently, the country can, among others, with a continuing out-migration, as well as a rapid ageing of the Albanian population to fight. The average age has increased recently to nearly 35 years.
Looking in Albania, but the country is in many Places already on the move and wants to show its Strengths. Also the hospitality and the cordiality of the population does not seem to be only in the rural areas, the rule – so we were more than amazed at how the Albanians are willing and sociable. An off-road trip with many impressions of the country – and its people – and an adventure it was all.
Pictures: © Philipp Deppe / MBpassion.de as well as Daimler AG