New equipment test: UD Condor PW 24 280 6X4 truck
UD has built its Australian business on the heavier end of the truck market, and now has the heavier end of the rigid truck market square in its sights with the release of the impressive Condor PW 24 280 six-wheeler, writes
After many months putting the final touches to well-publicised plans for the launch of a dedicated tandem-drive rigid truck, UD has now revealed its new Condor PW 24 280, a model with a low tare weight and high payload.
First impressions from short stints behind the wheel of several versions on sealed and unsealed roads at Brisbane’s Mt Cotton Driver Training Centre were highly positive, revealing a simple yet smart specification designed to satisfy a broad range of roles from livestock and agriculture to building, construction, waste and local distribution.
The five demo units at Mt Cotton were fitted with a range of bodies – hook-lift, tilt tray, skip bin, flattop with self-loading crane, and fridge pan – which certainly showcased UD’s intention to target a diverse range of niche applications.
Even a quick glance of the specs sheet suggests the PW specification is both smart and surprisingly simple, with the brand’s solid reputation for durability obviously a major consideration in the development process.
For starters, there are two wheelbase lengths – 5.3m and 6.71m – built on a suitably reinforced PK chassis to support a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 23.5 tonnes and gross combination mass (GCM) of 28 tonnes. Soon to be added is a 32-tonne GCM rating for light-duty truck and dog combinations.
Providing the punch is the same UD-designed GH7 7-litre engine that powers all MK, PK, PD and now PW models. Turbocharged and intercooled, it’s a Euro 5 engine using high-pressure commonrail fuel injection to dispense peak outputs of 206kW (280hp) at 2500rpm and 883Nm (651lb-ft) of torque at 1400rpm.
It’ll probably surprise some to learn there’s no manual transmission offering in the PW but, given its target users, the standard fitment of Allison’s widely regarded 3500 series 6-speed auto transmission is unquestionably a wise move.
The Allison feeds into an industry-standard Meritor drive tandem (MT 44-144GP) running a 6.14:1 final-drive ratio equipped with power divider and a diff lock operating on the front-drive axle.
One of the few variations in the driveline spec is the rear suspension, where the 5.3m ‘P’ wheelbase uses UD’s well-proven and wellmannered six-rod mechanical suspension, while the longer ‘W’ spread employs Hendrickson’s
HAS 460 air bag layout. In both cases, ride quality on both sealed and unsealed sections of the Mt Cotton circuits was predictably good.
It’s no surprise that the PW also shares the same cab as its rigid siblings and, typically, practicality
rates high. For starters, it’s an easy climb in and out, all-round visibility is good, and the general layout of gauges and switchgear is functional and quickly familiar.
Still, there’s room for improvement. The absence of electric or hydraulic cab tilt assistance means it can be a hefty lift on anything other than a flat surface or, preferably, facing downhill.
Yet, that said, it’s also a cab with plenty of modern features included as standard equipment, not least an ECE R29 crash strength rating, a driver’s side airbag, Wabco anti-lock (ABS) braking system, an on-board ‘Fleet Max’ telematics system, air-suspended driver’s seat, cruise control, touchscreen multimedia system, electric windows, and heated and electrically controlled side mirrors.
Fitted with a skinny foam mattress, it’s a cab also deemed ‘sleeper compliant’ according to the relevant Australian Design Rule (ADR42).
By any measure, though, it’s far more suited to short naps than overnight snores.
Even so, there was certainly no intention of an overnight camp in the Condor PW 24 280 when, a few weeks after the launch event at Mt Cotton, the people at UD eagerly agreed to provide the tilt-tray model loaded with an excavator from Volvo Construction Equipment for a return run between Brisbane and Toowoomba.
ON THE JOB
To get straight to the point, if your daily grind is driving a tandem-drive rigid truck in and around a metropolitan area with an occasional regional run thrown in, you could do worse than spend your days behind the wheel of the new PW. A lot worse!
For starters, the fundamentals are a truck with easy access in and out of a cab that has now been around for quite some time yet remains comfortable, quiet and entirely practical.
Critically, all-round vision is extremely good and made even better with a reversing camera sending the rear view to the standard multimedia screen in the dash.
Likewise, on-road manners are impressive, highlighted by a steering system that’s both light and positive at all speeds, and with an excellent turning circle for tight spots.
Meanwhile, daily checks of oil and water are simple enough with the oil dipstick behind the passenger side of the cab and coolant easily checked behind a lift-up panel above the grille, unlocked via a latch inside the cab near the accelerator pedal.
On the open road, though, in particular undulating country, don’t expect barnstorming performance. With 280hp and a somewhat timid torque peak, the GH7 engine is arguably at the
The five demo units were fitted with a range of bodies – hook-lift, tilt tray, skip bin, flat-top with selfloading crane, and fridge pan
upper level of its performance potential in the PW. At the upcoming GCM of 32 tonnes, the engine will be working hard.
With a 6-speed Allison auto on board, the 18-tonne PW accelerated smoothly and quickly from traffic lights, and made predictably easy work of dawdling traffic flows.
Yet despite the Allison’s double overdrive gearing – top gear is a tall 0.65:1 – the PW notches 100km/h at a twitch under 2100rpm. Still, any thoughts this relatively high engine speed would take a thirsty toll on fuel efficiency were soundly quashed at the end of the day, when UD’s telematics system reported a highly respectable average of 3.1km/litre (8.76 mpg) for the 255km round trip.
It’s a trip which included the long, sharp drag up Toowoomba Range, where the PW quickly settled into second gear, though it needed to be locked into second to avoid momentary migrations into third. Even so, the truck was able to hold 30km/h or thereabouts for almost the entire climb.
On the downhill run, second was again locked in. First gear was simply too low and slow, and third obviously too tall. Even in second, though, with revs allowed to run high into the rev range to provoke maximum retardation effort from the engine’s exhaust brake, frequent jabs on the service brakes were a necessity.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The overall conclusion is that while UD’s new PW model is a fundamentally versatile truck with the potential for a wide range of roles, there’s no question it is best suited to short-haul slogs where driving ease, enviable efficiency and entrenched durability are the foundations for success.
From all appearances, UD has kicked a goal with the new PW and, according to our sources, is lining up to kick a few more. Read the full review at TradeEarthmovers.com.au
1. UD’s new PW 24 280 tilt tray model did well in a day of diverse demands. Fuel economy was a big feature 2. The cab is plain, practical and comfortable 3. The UD GH7 engine powers covers a lot of bases but probably hits the peak of potential as a...
Above: One of the few negatives is the taps used for air drainage. The brakes have auto slack adjusters, so why not an auto air-drain?