Abent for eights

Hills don’t stand a chance against Sca­nia’s 16-litre

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Working Wheels - JAMES STAN­FORD james.stan­ford@carsguide.com.au

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.

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