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It's fast and it's likeablE

26th December 1981
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Page 20, 26th December 1981 — It's fast and it's likeablE
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The specs are ordinary, reports Tim Blakennore, but this vehicle passes the acic test: Would a driver choose any other lorn in preference for long journeys? Most unlikely

VHILE it is possible to find lisgruntled Scania operators, in ny experience they are few and ar between. Owner-drivers and mall fleet owners in particular eem to favour this marque. The easons for these strong alle'lances are not easy to identify. MCI the launch of the new GPR orward-control range a year :go, the Swedish manufacturer naintained a low profile in Iritain and had a pricing .tructure which could only be lescri bed as "aloof".

Even now there is nothing paricularly striking or revolutionary 'bout the specifications of this :ompany's new range of Thicles. The R112 MA tractive mit, for example, is competiively priced but is far from :heap; while its engine is powerul and torquey, in the 290-320hp narket sector, in which it corn

petes, it is not outstanding. As far as kerb weight is concerned, this Scania is downright heavy.

Our test vehicle in a ready-forthe-road condition and with its two fuel tanks full, weighed in at 6,998kg (6 tons 17cwt 2qr). In Scania tradition the cab is well appointed, but in its standard form (a "luxury cabpackage is an option) on paper at least, it can boast of no more equipment than has come to be expected these days in a premium tractive unit.

If you compare the R112 with the equivalent vehicle made by Scania's arch rival compatriot manufacturer from the west coast of Sweden (I hardly dare mention the word "Volvo" in a Scania road test) then you will find that the F10 and F12 scores a point by having air conditioning as standard whereas the R112 does not.

But I am still willing to bet that if an R112 were put into almost any fleet, large or small, even the most insouciant drivers would be falling over themselves to get at it. The Scania distributor might well find he has the devil's own job to wrest his vehicle back at the end of the demonstration period. If it is possible for an inanimate machine to have charisma, then this Scania certainly has it. Before trying to define this intangible quality, let's look at the facts in the shape of our test results. When it came to calculating the average fuel consumption at the end of the three-day test, Scania GB's representatives who accompanied us were a little disappointed with the overall figure of 41.24 lit/100km (6.85mpg).

I think that, perhaps, they either expected too much from the big tractive unit, or fell into the trap of judging its performance in absolute terms and were not comparing like with like. There is a fundamental flaw in the principle of appraising commercial vehicles like "Miss World" contenders, saying this one is best, that one is second best and so on.

It is clear that certain vehicles will be capable of doing certain jobs well and others will excel in completely different perform ance areas. While fuel consur tion is important, it is not the all and end all.

Now that the eight-hour d ing day is with us, the abilit maintain a high average spl can be crucial. For that kind operation, our test proved 1 Scania to be masterful.

The R112 ("R" denotes high-mounted, long-distai cab) is fitted with the 227 (305hp) version of Scania's litre in-line six, turbocharged gine. Together with Volvo's rated F12 and IVECO's 170F2 this model fits nicely into "around 300hp" category tractive unit which is becom increasingly popular with Bri. operators.

There are no internal ferences between the 281 DS11 14 and 305hp DS11 15, the fuel pump, injectors and bocharger are all different on ligher powered version. Upratng the low power engine might lot be difficult but it would be expensive.

Both versions of the 11-litre engine in the GPR range should De more economical than the Dne used in the earlier 111 -nodel. Higher pressure, faster njection Bosch fuel-injection equipment is now used and -naximum governed speed is lawn by 200rpm to 2,000rpm.

You would expect a vehicle Nith a power to weight ratio of ).5bhp/ton at 32 tons gcw to be capable of swift journey times 3nd you would be right. IVECO's :ractive unit was fast, but this Scania was faster. Its total time

for the 1184.64km (736.8 miles) test route was the best so far of any vehicle to be tested with the van semi-trailer.

Even more significant is the consistency of the Scania's high average speed. It began as it meant to go on, covering the first day's 347.5km (216 miles) in a record time of 4 hours 20 minutes, despite my ending up with a gearbox full of neutrals on the first steep hill on this section (more of that later).

The second day's average speed was also high, though this part of our test route is not such a good yardstick by which to measure a vehicle's ability to clock up the kilometres; there are too many built-up areas and 40mph restricted A-roads where a powerful vehicle like the Scania has to be kept on a tight rein.

Probably the best indicator of how well the R112 went is its average speed on the last day, and in particular on the last part of the last day. The M1 and M18 southbound and the M69 all have more than their fair share of long, steep banks which often pull the speed of lower powered 32-tonners right down.

The speed trace on the Scania's tachograph chart showed that from the start of the M1 (off M18) to the M69 junction the speed dropped below 60km/h (37mph) on only three occasions and peaks below 8 Okm/h (50mph) were also rare.

For sheer top-gear slogging ability at low engine speed, the Scania was not so impressive as IVECO's Turbo Fiat. Nevertheless, it was clearly in its element on every motorway section of our route. It maintained 60mph for longer stretches and with greater ease than any other tractive unit I can recall.

A 3.88:1 ratio for the single-reduction rear axle is standard. So is the direct-top range-change gearbox and 12R-22.5 tyres. This combination means that the engine is working at 1,900rpm, quite close to its maximum governed speed, at a road speed of 60mph. The performance curves show that at 1,900rpm the 11litre engine is developing 215kW (288bhp) and 1,125Nm (830Ibft) of torque — hence the strong pulling power.

While an expected disadvantage of such gearing might be poor fuel consumption in these conditions, there is no evidence of this in our results table.

On the first day, which has a lot of reasonably easy motorway running but also includes the

long climb up Shap, our 1 consumption checked w Kienzle's first-rate flowme. stayed close to 7.0mpg climbed to 7.22mpg on the F ton to Gretna stage.

These figures are similar those we recorded over same stages earlier this y with the Cummins E25. powered Seddon Atkinson though not as good as the Rc Royce 290 L-powered 401.

The Turbo IVECO's fuel c sumption over these stac. stayed in the high sixes. 0 the final day's tough motorv section, the Scania's fuel c sumption dropped to 6.52m slightly worse than the IVE model here, but once again most identical to that of Cummins engined 40 6.48mpg. And remember t the Scania's time over this s tion was exceptionally fast.

We encountered no extre weather during the test, heavy rain and a sodden t track when we returned to MI made carrying out our delit ately postponed 40mph bri test impractical.

The brake test had been pc poned from the first day wt we had to move the trail( kingpin to its deep position order to get enough weight o. the drive axle. There had be insufficient time left to get bi onto the MIRA circuit as well )ving a hope of reaching aui iernight stop at a reasonable ne. That is the reason for the asence of braking figures from )mph for the Scania.

Another apparent anomaly on e results page of this test that )eds explaining is the noise vel at 40mph, which is higher an at 50mph.

The culprit here, ironically, as the rearmost of the two coil rings fitted to the gear-lever )destal to hold the noise insudon material against the cab or when the cab is down. Both rings should be fitted with astic sheaths, but one was issing from the rear spring on 1 r test vehicle. At the engine's aximum torque speed at 300rpm, the spring vibrated pinst the pedestal and caused e buzzing noise which sent our )ise level needle climbing; )mph in top gear on the Scania rrresponds with an engine reed of 1,300rpm.

However, in general the noise vels in the high-mounted cab e extremely low. I can find no her tested tractive unit in hich a figure of less than 76dB(A) at 60mph has been recorded.

The quietness of the cab interior is just one of the vehicle's many features which appeal to drivers. To describe them all in detail would require another three pages, but some are particularly worthy of mention. Despite the cab's high mounting, safe and easy access to the driver's seat is provided by the three well placed steps.

The steering column is mounted at an unusually acute angle taking its base well forward and thus giving plenty of foot room as well as providing an unorthodox (for a lorry), but superbly comfortable, driving position.

The rear-view mirrors used by Scania must now be the best in the business for the field of vision they provide; their heating elements are powerful and so become effective quickly, and on our test the cab's front corner air deflectors kept the mirrors relatively clean.

An exception to the generally well placed and easy to operate controls is the rocker switch controlling the diff lock. It is in a bank of four virtually identical switches on the right of the dashboard. Therefore it would be very easy for a driver unused to the vehicle to inadvertently operate the diff lock instead of, say, the side lights — a decidedly dangerous and expensive mistake if he were travelling at 60mph.

I must also criticise the Scania's GR870 ten-speed rangechange gearbox (and this brings me back to my reference to the box full of neutrals on the first day). The gate is arranged in such a way that 1st and 6th (low and high range) are almost opposite reverse — that is hard over to the nearside against a detent spring and back.

These gears are the most awkward to select. Normally that would not be too much of a problem, but the Scania gearbox also suffers from an exceptior ally slow-to-change planetar range unit which can b "beaten". By this I mean that th driver can select gears in th main gearbox before the plene tary gears are engaged and con sequently be left with no drive.

On level ground, sixth can b, avoided altogether, movin! from 5 in low range to 7 in higl range, but on steep hills the stel is too big. There is no alternativi but to wait patiently in neutra for the click to tell you that thi range unit is engaged and the as quickly as possible perforn the somewhat gymnastic move ment of the left arm needed tr select sixth.

Summary The Scania R112 MA set jour ney and hill-climb-time record all around CM's Scottish rout, and those results speak to themselves. For a 300hp tractiv, unit working at 32 tons gcw it fuel consumption was neithe better nor worse than we wouli have expected.

From a driver's point of vieN• the acid test of any vehicle i this: if it were lined up with all it competitors, which vehicl would the driver choose for long journey, given free choice On that basis this Scania mw pass the test with a distinction.


People: Tim Blakennore

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