Abent for eights
Hills don’t stand a chance against Scania’s 16-litre
LONG live the V8.
That’s the thought that enters my head as the Scania R730 eases up the hill without fuss.
The 16-litre V8 under the bonnet is doing it so easily you would hardly imagine there are three trailers on the back weighing nearly 70 tonnes.
This is the most powerful road-going production truck in Australia and it feels like it. After all, as the name suggests, it has 730 horsepower, which is all of 537kW.
That’s an incredible amount of power for a truck you can order fromthe factory.
Scania and Volvo have been locked in aH olden-v-Ford-style game of one-upmanship when it comes to horsepower for the past few years.
After losing the most-powerful truck title to Scania, Volvo returned fire with a 552kW(750hp) version of its FH in Europe. It’s not available inAustralia yet— the local FH tops out 515kW (700hp), leaving the Scania as the king of the heap Down Under.
The power figure might make for a talking point at the pub, but it is the torque figure that really matters when you are about to start climbing some hills.
This big Scania delivers an incredible 3500Nm of torque (2581ft/lb for the oldies) and it serves them up right where you need them— between 1000 revs and 1400 revs.
It sends the force through a 12-speed automated manual transmission, although the engine’s computer dials back the torque slightly in the lower gears to protect the mechanicals.
Using the handy hill-hold, I give the big Scania full throttle off the line.
It certainly hustles and you can feel the twist as it jerks from gear to gear as it gets going. The bestway, while it is less spectacular, is to ease the power on. Half throttle is more than enough to get things moving off the line. You’ll also save on maintenance costs and certainly use less fuel.
It doesn’t take much to get the big Scania going and it’s also reassuring to know slowing down is easy too. An effective exhaust brake retarder is fitted as standard and can work automatically with the cruise control to save your service brakes (wheel brakes) for when you really need them.
The best element of this set- up is the fact it has several stages of retardation controlled by a lever on the steering column. This means you can easily and accurately slow the truck. If it is not decelerating fast enough, you can click the lever down another stage. And if it is slowing too quickly, it is just as easy to lift it up one stage.
We are driving the R730 B-Triple at the Mt Cotton driver-training course outside Brisbane, which has plenty of corners and a reasonable climb.
However, this truck would be more at home on the outside, running over hilly terrain, where its strength would be better appreciated.
Scania says most V8 customers select them, instead of the perfectly good sixcylinders, for practical reasons. It argues the extra performance of the V8 helps operators get freight to its final destination faster and that it is also a robust powerplant. Scania is now the only mainstream truckmaker pressing on with the V8 engine.
Mercedes-Benz still has aV8 inAustralia for its Actros, but this has been replaced with a six-cylinder for the next generation model already be available in Europe.
Scania admits V8s take up more space and are heavier than six-cylinders, but says there are performance advantages and the engine is less strained as the workload is shared among more cylinders.
It adds some buyers just want a V8. Behind the wheel of the R730, it is easy to see why they would feel thisway.