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

Earthmovers & Excavators - - Contents - Steve Brooks

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.

SHARP SPEC

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 tan­dem-drive rigid

4. The PW 24 280 6x4 truck tar­gets a wide range of ap­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing live­stock and gen­eral agri­cul­tural use

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?

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