It has been sometime coming but the new truck system, sold under the banner of the Anthem has finally arrived in Australia. PowerTorque was the first media outlet to take the new Anthem model out for a drive.
Walking up to the truck, it does appear very different, but also quite familiar, it is definitely still a Mack. Opening the driver’s door and climbing up inside is all very familiar. Once sitting in the seat the dash and steering wheel are all new, with that angular Anthem feel and lots of right angles. So very different from the smooth arcs and curves which are ‘de rigueur’ elsewhere in truck design.
We have to remember that the primary market, for which this truck has been designed, is the US vocational sector, which looks for solid and practical, it certainly is.
In fact, there are few clues to the sophisticated nature of the truck’s design. There is a tell-tale camera on the inside of the windscreen, looking at the road in front, which is part of the Bendix Wingman system, which is now standard on the Anthem range. Integrated into the front bumper is the radar system which works in tandem with the camera to keep an eye on traffic in front of the truck.
Contrast this with the fact that all of the instruments remain analog. This cabin interior does not have the large touchscreens, which have been appearing in other brands in recent years, when they have updated to the latest state of the art electronic architecture. The main concession to the modern world is the well designed and easy to look at 5.5-inch Mack Co-Pilot LCD screen directly in front of the driver on the dashboard.
The Mack designers have clearly made a decision to stay away from the aircraft cockpit style of multiple screens and modern switching. The switches along the dashboard are a new design but chunky and functional. There is no large screen for the entertainment system, for cameras around the truck, or for navigation.
The cabin interior design is more like an update of the previous generation than a radical revolution. The real changes take place out of sight, under the skin, with 2021 electronic computing power running the show, behind the scenes.
The interior designers have obviously looked at the balance between an ultra-modern look for the interior and the reassuring conservative and rugged design, which has served the Mack brand well in the past. Clearly, the decision has been made to err on the side of caution and not make the inside of the new Mack look too futuristic, as well as being robust enough to live in this vocational application world.
The new door interior has a solid handle sitting at the top with a substantial pocket below and the mirror and window controls near the driver’s right hand. Another ergonomic improvement is the decision to mount the light controls just below the air vent next to the A-pillar. This is a position easier to see and find, much better than being mounted low, near the left or right knee, as they have been in the past.
The steering wheel is an unfamiliar object, with a flat bottomed shape, intended to improve ingress and egress for the driver, especially when walking from the door into the new integrated sleeper cabins, which will be coming available. Welcome to the new world of Mack, this steering wheel will become standard across the Anthem, Trident and Superliner models, as the electronic infrastructure moves to the new system.
Surprisingly, the new steering wheel does not include a driver’s airbag, although it does look as if one could be fitted into the available space in the wheel’s design.
The truck on test was a day cab Anthem but PowerTorque did get an opportunity to get a look at the new sleeper cab which comes along as part of the Anthem introduction. This option will be available of the Anthem, Trident and Superliner and comes in one size, as a 36inch sleeper. The main point here is, this is a genuinely integrated sleeper, something unavailable on a Mack in the past.
Anyone wanting a roomier sleeper cabin will still have the larger sizes which are available with the current Mack range to choose from, but if you want an integrated sleeper, it has to be a 36-inch. This is the size most fleets would be choosing, and those looking something bigger are likely to customise their choices around the whole truck a little more.