Prize-winning Ac­tros

Daim­ler is woo­ing truck buy­ers with the changes they asked for, writes GRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

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.

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