Renault Trucks Range T underwent a major upgrade earlier this year to help it be even more cost efficient for operators, so when the opportunity came along to put it to the test, we jumped at the chance, as Export & Freight’s Garfield Harrison reports.
Our bright yellow Renault T480 6×2, which we picked up at dealers Diamond Trucks in Mallusk, is certainly an eye-catcher on the outside, but its only when you climb into the cab do you realise the extent of its pedigree.
We didn’t do a fuel test on the day, but Renault say that with improvements to the chassis and driveline, it has been able to reduce fuel consumption by a further 2%, whilst increasing the payload by up to 114 kgs, which can’t be bad.
Voted International Truck of the Year 2015, the new upgrade has been warmly greeted by long haul drivers and it didn’t take us long to appreciate that as we covered our traditional test route up the M2, on to Magherafelt, down into Cookstown and then joining the M1 at Portadown to head back to Belfast.
Improved aerodynamics include an optional built-in spoiler under the bumper to better direct the flow of air passing beneath the truck, while a new optimised and lighter roof deflector enables the truck to penetrate the air more easily – all of which considerably reduce aerodynamic disturbance, which is a potential source of increased fuel consumption.
Several components have been redesigned or lightened, so that payload can be increased as much as possible to benefit operators. For example, a new drive axle and improvements in the air suspension have reduced vehicle weight by several kilos. Customers now also have the possibility of having their tractors fitted with an aluminium fifth wheel.
The lightweight DTI 13 engine which powered our test truck has also been upgraded to further improve fuel efficiency; it’s been equipped with the common rail injection system which offers better combustion – and it complies with the upcoming Euro-6 Step C standard, which will become mandatory on 31st December 2016.
For those of you not up to speed on this new legislation… when Euro 6 became a legal demand in 2013, it was introduced in three steps – A, B and C; we’re now approaching that final phase. The emission levels do not change, they stay at the same level, but the on-board diagnostic tolerances get tighter for NOx and Adblue control.
The engine is coupled to a new generation of the Optidriver automated gearbox, said to be the best available on the truck market. With 12 forward and 3 reverse gears, it selects the right gear at the right time suited to speed and driving style to guarantee you better mobility and greater comfort while driving.
Our test truck came with a sleeper cab that provides the driver with a comfortable working environment, a spacious rest area and comfy bunk bed, in addition to carefully considered finishes and interior trim designs, together with multiple storage spaces, including five above the console, one of which is lockable, with a fold-up shelf and an additional storage console at the rear of the cab comprising three storage compartments, as well as a 24-litre capacity ‘silent’ refrigeration unit housed in the central storage area.
And there’s more – like electronic air conditioning, air filtration system, coat hooks, a choice of lighting, 12v and 24v sockets, MP£/WMA-compatible CD player and AM/FM tuner. There’s even an interior luggage compartment – accessible from the outside, too – for easy stowing of heavy baggage. It really is a home from home. What more could a driver want!
Accessibility to the cab has been designed to make the driver’s day-to-day work easier. The door, for example, has a generous opening angle of 85°, while the provision of two platforms makes cleaning the windscreen easy.
Driving is a pleasure, too. The wrap-around dashboard brings controls within easy reach of our air suspended and fully adjustable seat, while the multi-function steering wheel houses controls for telephone, cruise control, speed limiter and menu navigation. With everything at our finger-tips, all we had to do was concentrate on the road ahead.
A host of safety features also added to our driving experience, including a lane departure warning system that issues an audible signal to warn that an inadvertent change has been detected in the vehicle’s direction of travel, an automatic emergency braking system that warns of a possible collision and then brakes and stops the vehicle completely with no intervention from the driver, and an adaptive rotary cruise control to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
The hill start aid, too, comes in useful, ensuring the brakes are held on to prevent the truck rolling backwards, while an automatic electric parking brake comes into play when the engine stops.
Despite encountering all sorts of traffic conditions over the course of several hours, we were not in any way stressed. It was more like a Sunday afternoon drive in the country with the family! Of course, there is no such thing these days as a ‘bad’ truck, it’s just that some are better than others – and in the Renault T480 we found an impressive truck that wants for nothing.
Model: Renault T 480
Cab: Sleeper Cab
Engine: DTI 13 Euro 6 Step C
Max power: 353kW from 1404 to 1800 rpm
Max torque: 2400Nm@950-1404 rpm
Gearbox: Optidriver automated 12 speed