UD gets the blues

Our Aussie hills are too big a chal­lenge, writes GRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Bikes -

HAD our strine-talk­ing Prime Min­is­ter been driv­ing UD’s new PK10 au­to­matic over the Blue Moun­tains, he may well have been heard to de­clare he’d got the rough end of the pineap­ple.

It would have been a fair com­ment when the up­dated Ja­panese medium-duty model al­most ground to a halt on the steep climbs along the Great West­ern High­way.

He would have had to watch fully loaded B-Dou­bles and tip­pers with dog trail­ers weighed down with crushed rock fairly power past the UD.

UD’s new truck equipped with an Al­li­son au­to­matic trans­mis­sion was clearly strug­gling — it would be more at home in the city as a sub­ur­ban dis­tri­bu­tion ve­hi­cle.

It would have strug­gled even more had the truck been loaded to its max­i­mum.

UD pre­sented it as a 6x2 with a lazy axle, which made it ca­pa­ble of be­ing loaded up to 22.5 tonnes.

But it was loaded only to the 16 tonnes of a reg­u­lar 4x2.

Why UD de­cided to in­clude the Al­li­son-equipped PK10 in the drive pro­gram, which was to demon­strate its new range of au­tos, is a mys­tery.

A 239kW en­gine is due in 2011, but for now PK10 buy­ers have to be sat­is­fied with a 7.7-litre com­mon rail tur­bod­iesel that peaks at 194kW at 2500 revs and 794Nm at 1500 revs.

UD re­leased the PK10 last year with a UD six-speed man­ual gear­box or an Ea­ton nine-speed.

Since then the com­pany has moved to meet the de­mand for self-shift­ing trans­mis­sions and has fit­ted its MK and PK medi­um­duty trucks with Al­li­son au­to­mat­ics: the MK with a five-speed 2500 Se­ries trans­mis­sion and the PK with a six-speed 3000 Se­ries.

The lat­ter was in­stalled in the PK10 in the Blue Moun­tains.

Op­er­at­ing the Al­li­son is sim­ple. It’s a push-but­ton shift con­trol mounted along­side the driver, not un­like the auto shifts in old Valiants in the 1960s.

Press D for Drive or R for Re­verse and you’re off in whichever di­rec­tion you’ve cho­sen.

Choose D and you can leave it there and let it do its own thing, and that’s the way you would have it for most of the time when driv­ing in town.

On a road such as the Great West­ern High­way, with its climbs and de­scents, the man­ual-shift­ing func­tion comes into play much more of­ten.

Ex­tra but­tons are used to shift up or down and there was plenty of that.

To main­tain speed up hills, it was nec­es­sary to change down be­fore the climb and keep chang­ing down as the truck slowed.

With the need to shift up or down al­most con­stantly, the short­com­ings of the push-but­ton shift be­came clear.

On the flat, changes were smooth, but on hilly roads where the driver was of­ten chang­ing gears man­u­ally, it was clunky and didn’t give the driver any feel­ing of con­trol.

The five-speed auto in the MK6 uses a T-bar-type shifter and a sim­i­lar set-up would im­prove the op­er­a­tion of the auto in the PK.

Had the PM called a poll on the trans­mis­sion is­sue that day in the Blue Moun­tains, the man­ual trans­mis­sion would have been a win­ner.

Don’t head for the hills:

the auto-equipped UD PK10 found the go­ing tough in a Blue Moun­tains test.

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