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The grande

29th May 2008, Page 32
29th May 2008
Page 32
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Page 32, 29th May 2008 — The grande
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exam Last year's ,1,000-Point Test' was a resounding success. So in 2008, instead of three manufacturers turning up, we had four: Iveco, MAN, Mercedes-Benz and Scania.

This year, the manufacturers were asked to provide a top-spec tractor with about 560hp — as opposed to last year's lower-spec 400hp fleet contenders. In keeping with the 40-tonne Continental norm, they were all 4x2s.

All our test trucks were Euro-5 models equipped with automated gearboxes. Iveco provided the Stralis 560 in its now well-known All Blacks' livery, Mercedes' Actros had a fantastic red paint job, while MAN and Scania opted for trucks clad in striking yellow.

Despite the trucks having similar horsepower, their engines showed significant variations. MAN and Iveco came with straight sixes, while the remaining two turned up with lusty V8s. This could explain the differences in fuel consumption and driving time The specified test route in the Hunsrtick in Germany was exactly 155km; each truck carried out five runs, with the worst run being discounted.

Rather than just specifying a certain weight for the truck and trailer combination, we swapped the four different trailers after each run — thereby making it an even playing field, with no one able to benefit from a slightly lighter or more aerodynamic trailer.

We spent the day before the test runs taking all the usual interior measurements, recording visibility etc. It also allowed everyone to have a good look around the vehicles without having to focus on driving at the same time.


The manufacturers that took part in this test were confident that even if their truck did not win, it would get a fair chance. Accuracy was paramount. For example, when the trucks were refuelling they all had to fill up at the same pump every time. Not only that, but they also had to stop in exactly the same place to ensure the camber of the ground would not affect the fuel measurement. Also, in working out the fuel consumption, we measured the diesel temperature in the vehicles' tanks, as this factor can throw out the reading significantly.

Without explaining every testing procedure, we hope With 832 points, the Iveco Stralis took last place 15 points behind its nearest rival. The three main areas that let it down were the cab, the rear-axle ratio and its performance levels.

With four top-class tractors in the test, the lveco just doesn't feel very 'premium'. The plastics used on the dash and storage compartments don't enhance the good-looking and comfortable leather seats. It's a shame that Iveco decided to save money with cheaper-looking plastic because the layout of the dash around the driver is ergonomically pleasing. Three buttons in easy reach of the driver allow the selection of D, N and Ron the Eurotronic auto box, and the park brake is just below them.

Unfortunately, the Stralis' good fuel consumption did not add very much to its overall score, since fuel consumption isn't weighted as heavily as driveability. This was let down by the large number of gear changes on hills -34 in total. Of course, the straight six will always have to change more than its VS rivals because of the lower torque. yet it still had four more than its nearest rival, the MAN. It's for this reason that the rear axle choice was awarded a comparatively small number of points. Accelerating in top gear from 60-85km1i also highlighted the Stralis' lack of squirt. It's clear from the set-up of the test vehicle that Iveco was going for good fuel consumption figures.

The seats are very comfortable, the driver is in a good position and all the controls are easily accessible. The manual override that all trucks on the test had was, in this case, mounted on the stalk.

The Stralis performed OK in the visibility section, apart from the surface covered by the right A-pillar (14.26m2), which is widened significantly by a thick mirror.

Iveco has a good-looking, driver-friendly truck that doesn't burn too much fuel, but it doesn't make the premium grade. Upping the interior quality a touch and speccing a different axle ratio would make a world of difference. In third place with 847 points was MANS TGX. But with its stunning paint job and striking features, it doesn't really look like a third-place truck.

The MAN has a tidy, modern interior with shades of black, silver and carbon fibre. But where it lost out significantly to Mercedes and Scania was on performance.

The TGX had marginally the best fuel efficiency, although it struggled with top-gear acceleration. It also had a high number of gear changes on hills -30 in total. Lack of torque and its rear-axle ratio did not help the MANS cause.

One major plus point was the amount of light it let in thanks to its huge windscreen and large side windows. But this was overshadowed by a problem shared with the lvecolarge mirrors. While the view to the back of the truck is excellent, the ground surface hidden by the right A-pillar and mirror is the largest of the bunch, at 21.76m2.

All that light shining into the cab highlights how much space there is available a good 0.35m2 over the TGX's nearest rival. Unfortunately, this space isn't as useable

as it could be. The under-bunk storage protrudes into the mid section and the gear-select and park brake are still on the floor next to the driver's seat when they would be better suited on the dash. Having the parking brake on the floor so far back could also be uncomfortable for shorter drivers.

Bar the gear select and park brake position, the dash is well thought-out and has all the necessary functions in easy-to-access positions. Bunk sizes are good, and there are plenty of well thought-out storage areas.

As with the lveco, the manual override is stalk-mounted a short pull changes one gear, a long pull two.

The MAN is a stunning truck and could have been a real contender for the top spot if it had a little more torque and a different rear axle. Only eight points separated the top two, but Mercedes-Benz had to settle for second, with 859.

Sadly, the Actros was not the brandnew model, although it showed no signs of looking dated.

In true Mercedes fashion, it had a fantastic paint job and looked smart. The interior wasn't as modern as the MANS, nor did it have the range of colours, but it was simple and smart.

The debate once again raged over the armrest-mounted gear select. Some argue that it should be placed on the dash alongside the park brake. But since it doesn't take up any valuable floor space, it remains a matter of personal taste.

With the powerful V8, the Actros's fuel consumption failed to match that of the Iveco and the MAN, but its strong point was its driveability. While its acceleration from 0-85km/h wasn't that much different than most, it did well in the mid-range acceleration test from 60-85km/h.

The ActrosS strength shone through in the hill section, needing only two more gear changes than the Scalia, but 14 less than the MAN.

In terms of interior storage, the Mercedes has the most room. although it doesn't do as well if we're talking interior space. Although a bit of in-cab height is sacrificed, the flat floor throughout the cab is a welcome feature it makes moving around a lot easier.

Visibility is excellent, as Mercedes-Benz' choice of small mirrors means that both A-pillars cover only a small surface.

Fans of a V8 sound will, of course, enjoy winding down the windows and listening to it growl. With the cab all shut up, driving noise on the motorway is pleasing, with not much coming through. Cruising at 85km/h produced the second lowest dB(A) level of 63.2.

The only surprise with the Actros was its weight at just over eight tonnes. Other than that. it delivered exactly what you would expect from a Mercedes. It's a good-looking ruck with plenty of power and good driveability.

Behold... the winner of the 2008 1,000-Point Test. Performance was key for this Swedish contender, which clocked up the fastest times on the test and kept gearchanges to a minimum. In the process; it used the most fuel but as we've said, this isn't the sole deciding factor in this test.

Its acceleration from 0-80km/h was more than three seconds faster than the others', while its acceleration in top gear from 65-80km/h was 2.2 seconds faster. The number of gear changes on hills was a mere 14 20 less than the Iveco Stralis.

The interior didn't scream out 'premium class', although the leather seats were comfortable and the dash was user-friendly. The only thing that could have been better is the materials used in certain parts of the dash.

It has a good amount of interior space, but lacks a bit of storage space. Also, the lower bunk is quite small and both seats have to be moved forward for it to reach its maximum size.

The driving position is ergonomically sound, with the dash curving nicely around the driver. The park brake and gear select are dash-mounted and the manual gear override is on the stalk.

The vehicle offers excellent ride comfort and recorded the lowest in-cab cruising noise at 85km/h at 62.5 dB(A).

Like the Mercedes. it also has goodsized mirrors, which don't increase the A-pillar size drastically, although the windscreen is very small when compared to the MAN. This also lets in a limited amount of light, making the interior feel smaller than it is.

The Scania's sheer grunt won it the contest; it mastered the hilly patch in the HunsrOck with ease. Power and ride comfort were just enough to muscle out the less-powerful but smarter Mercedes. The 1,000-Point Test was once again carried out in the Hunsrack region of south-west Germany, starting at the Rasthof Hochwald services. One reason for choosing this location is its hilliness, which makes t an excellent testing ground for the trucks. Another reason is the picturesque Mosel valley.

Last year, one run from the test had to be discounted because of an accident. This year there were no accidents, although there was a 5km building site with speed restrictions. Rather than mess around with too many calculations, this section was simply cut out of the test results.

Weather conditions weren't a problem over the two test days, and there were no other major complications that would have influenced the test results.


People: Mercedes-Benz

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