Daimler is wooing truck buyers with the changes they asked for, writes GRAHAMSMITH
DAIMLER Trucks is hoping it’s third time lucky for the Actros. The heavyweight MercedesBenz hauler hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since its arrival in 1996, but Daimler hopes the third update will be the one to break through with local operators.
Actros 3 was released amid fanfare at the Hanover Truck Show last year, where it won Truck of the Year.
Winning an award means little if you fail to win the hearts and minds of fleet owners and drivers, and Actros has clearly come up short in that quest.
Daimler people seem unable to explain why the heavyweight has failed to get traction with local operators. They mostly respond with furrowed brows, perplexed looks and furious head-scratching.
On the quiet they say it’s good enough to compete with the Volvo FH for a greater share of the onhighway single trailer and B-double market, but it seems operators simply don’t consider it when they’re making decisions.
Actros 3 is a makeover of the previous model with about 30 new features and improvements to build on the solid foundation that has gone before, but perhaps more importantly to deal with concerns raised by truck buyers.
The improvements cover everything from design and driver comfort to fuel consumption and safety.
Externally the Actros 3 has a new V-shaped grille and threepiece front spoiler, which makes it cheaper to repair.
The front panel is now steel and new corner deflectors direct air around the sides of the truck.
Drivers will appreciate the new bi-xenon headlamps.
Inside, there are new instrument graphics, new trim fabrics, changes to the bunks and a towel rail.
Though comfort and ease of use are important to recruit and retain drivers, what’s under the cab matters most to fleet operators.
The Mercedes-Benz engineers have revised the software controlling the Powershift 2 auto transmission to soften the shifting for better performance and reduced driveline shock.
The Actros 3 comes with a choice of V6 and V8 engines. Both use selective catalytic reduction as their primary emissionfighting technology, and both are available in Euro 5 form that meets the future ADR 80/03 limits as well as the standard Euro 4 form to meet the current ADR 80/02 regulations.
The 12-litre V6 is available in four power ratings from 265kW/ 1850Nm to 350kW/2300Nm. The 16-litre V8 comes in three ratings from 375kW/2400Nm to 440kW/ 2800Nm.
The cabin has all the bells and whistles a driver could want, but it lacks the roominess of the extended-cab Volvo.
A brief drive around Brisbane in an Actros 2655 with the 405kW/2600Nm 16.0-litre V8 hauling a single trailer and weighing 40 tonnes showed it had plenty of performance, with good response in all gears.
Though the 16-speed Powershift gearbox, mostly in auto, got the business done with minimum fuss, the shifts weren’t as crisp or fluent as the Volvo I-Shift that Big Wheels recently drove.
Safety is covered by an arsenal of options that put the big Benz on the cutting edge of crash prevention. Systems such as active cruise control, active brake assist, and lane keeping assist, and anti-skid braking make the Actros one of the safest trucks on the road today.
Power on the move: the Mercedes-Benz Actros has a series of internal and external changes.