Ten years in development resulting in the biggest ever investment in the manufacturer’s history and with more than 10 million kilometres of test driving carried out, what does Scania’s new truck range deliver? Export & Freight’s Garfield Harrison has been finding out.
When the opportunity came up to joined our Press colleagues for a day of driving impressions behind the wheel of several models in Scania’s much heralded range of next generation trucks, we just couldn’t turn it down.
And what better place to be introduced to the new range than at the Bedford Autodrome. Designed from scratch by former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer, there is nowhere else in the world like the venue which has been purpose built for test driving, with four entirely distinct circuits and over five miles of track laid out across a 384 acre site.
That, of course, was only our starting point; the open roads of Bedfordshire beckoned as we climbed on board our Scania S series 580 6×2 Highline, the truck we placed the most focus on during the day, bearing in mind the specific needs and preferences of the majority of our Northern Ireland operators.
Before that, though, we took a good look around the exterior. While it remains distinctively a Scania, there have been some subtle refinements, with priority having been given to aspects relating to aerodynamics and, consequently, fuel consumption.
Every surface, at the front as well as along the sides and even below the vehicle, has been optimised for minimum drag. Even components like wipers, rear-view mirrors and all the various lights have been designed with this in mind. Equipment like air deflectors and side skirts have also been carefully integrated into the overall design.
All of this had the aim of further reducing drag by about 2% which, of course, has a positive impact on fuel consumption; Scania tell us the new truck range will deliver a fuel saving of up to 5% on average compared to previous models.
Our top of the range high roof S cab was certainly roomier than we had anticipated; indeed, there is a height difference of 16 cm which will, of course, be especially appreciated by those who both work and live in their vehicle. The biggest cab ever built by Scania, it has a completely flat floor, enabling the driver to stand up and easily move around; the bunk bed with its high quality mattress will clearly guarantee a good night’s sleep.
The new cab also offers vastly improved visibility thanks to a larger glass surface area, a lower instrument panel, slimmer door panels and optimised A-pillars. Of course, the front and rear-view mirrors play a crucial role in this respect; the mirrors on the S cab have a wide-angle function, and are electrically adjustable as well as heated, and they come with effective vibration damping.
Slipping behind the wheel ready to pull away from the autodrome in our fully loaded 44 tonner, we immediately noticed just how much room there was for our knees and feet as we got ourselves into a comfortable position for the journey ahead; clearly, the cab has been designed around the driver – everything from chilled drinks to mobile phones are close to hand in easily accessible storage spaces.
And when it comes to the infotainment system, there are a number of options and functions to choose from. It basically boils down to two well-integrated systems with 5″ or 7″ screens. Integrated steering wheel controls are standard, as is voice activation via a hidden microphone in the roof.
A joy to drive, we found the steering super responsive and accurate, and we loved the new shaped steering wheel. Gear changing virtually went unnoticed and the suspension gave us probably the smoothest ride we have ever experienced in a truck; it simply flattened out all the bumps during the journey, while the performance of the retarder virtually made the foot brake redundant!
The 13-litre engine packed terrific pulling power and ticked over as quiet as a mouse – and not being a professional, it was a surprise to learn that our driver performance came in at 100%. That’s how driver friendly this new Scania is.
Safe & Sound
Safety, clearly, was high on Scania’s agenda when designing the new range. This is probably one of the safest trucks on the road.
We all know that the most serious types of accident for truck drivers are when the vehicle overturns during an evasive manoeuvre, when taking a bend too fast, or when the truck doesn’t stop quickly enough, for example in a sudden traffic queue, so Scania has enhanced both active and the passive safety in the new truck range with a number of features to protect both those inside the cab and other road users. By introducing rollover side curtain airbags, for example, Scania estimates that the number of drivers killed in rollover accidents could potentially be reduced by 25%. That’s good to know!
During our visit to Bedford, Scania also took the opportunity to highlight its sustainability credentials, not least because many fleet operators are now focusing their attention on reducing CO2 emissions.
Development towards sustainable transportation is now being driven by a number of factors, with greater awareness of climate challenges being perhaps the single biggest driving force.
With that in mind, the initial launch phase of Scania’s new truck range includes conventional diesel engines that comply with Euro 6, but with one important addition: they can all be run on HVO (Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil). Engines for alternative and/or renewable fuels will be introduced within the next year. Until then, Scania’s entire range of powertrains for alternative fuels is available in the current generation of trucks, which are being manufactured simultaneously.
Scania is planning for at least 40,000 customers and prospective customers to test drive the new vehicles; we have got there before them and our verdict is: they will not be disappointed!
At the outset, Scania declared they wanted to re-define the market’s view of the term ‘premium,’ and they have certainly done that!