PowerTorque’s European Correspondent, Will Shiers, found himself out on UK roads having fun with 770 horsepower under the hood, test driving the Scania 770S for the first time.
Manoeuvring around the truck park, I immediately notice the Electrically Assisted Steering. The amount of assistance it gives is proportional to the speed of the vehicle, which means it’s incredibly light and pleasant at low speed.
Heading out onto the motorway I pass another Scania V8, and the driver fails to clock me. Now I’m beginning to wish that I had a few light bars with which to announce my importance, and that the illuminated V8 behind me was 10 times bigger and brighter than it is.
I’m shocked at just how effortlessly this 44-tonner gets up to speed, block-changing on the slip road, and in top gear by the time I join the carriageway. Yes, you did read that correctly, 44 tonnes! That’s the top weight general haulage can operate at in the UK, which makes this truck’s 759hp rather excessive.
That said, there is talk of a 60-tonne 25.25m road train trial coming up, which might make more of a business case for such high horsepower tractors.
A slight incline poses nothing by the way of a challenge, but it is enough of an exertion to make the V8 rumble. The previous range-topping 720hp V8 (badged 730) used EGR and SCR to meet Euro-6, and the emissions controls effectively silenced it. But this new flagship is SCR-only, which has given the engine its voice back.
I slow down slightly, just so I can accelerate hard, but first cracking open the window to give me a better earful. The exhaust snarls with little provocation, and the V8 feels responsive to every prod of the throttle.
Later on I find myself passing a Volvo FH16, and as I inch past I glance over at the driver. Surely, he’s spotted us. But if he has clocked what’s overtaking him, he’s not letting on. And he’s got his window closed too, so probably can’t hear my V8 growling. Suddenly, I am having fun with 770 horsepower and I wish I had a change-over valve to get his attention, and one of those cartoon illustrations of a little boy urinating over a Volvo badge would look great on the nearside of the cab. Oh no! What am I becoming?
Despite the lofty heights of the flat-floored S-series cab, visibility is superb. Scania moved the driver forwards and outwards when it introduced its Next Generation range, which has really enhanced direct vision. It’s refreshing that Scania’s hard work hasn’t been undone by the fitting of aftermarket tassel curtains in this one.
The truck is equipped with a retarder, replacing Scania’s normal exhaust brake. Although growing in popularity, these are still relatively scarce in the UK. Using the switches on the base of the steering wheel, I’ve set the cruise control to 56mph (90km/h) and the downhill speed control to the 60mph (97km/h) speed limit. Now the retarder cuts in on the down gradients, keeping my speed in check.
I come off the motorway at Leatherhead, a town located on the edge of the Surrey Hills. This area featured heavily in the 2012 Olympic cycling route, due to some particularly steep inclines.
But the big Scania has 3,700Nm of torque, and when needed it grabs a few fistfuls, and easily punches its way to the top, flattening the steepest of hills I can put in its path. And thanks to the retarder, the truck descends hills with equal aplomb. Behind the wheel of the 770S I’m fast becoming a flat-earth believer!
Scania was a relatively latecomer to the world of the electronic handbrakes, and it’s an option now. The system automatically engages when you come to a standstill and holds the truck until you press the accelerator pedal, doing away with Hill Hold. While it sounds an audible alert to signify that it has engaged, it’s rather quiet, and curiously, the light on the handbrake doesn’t change from green to red to signify that it has been applied.
Back on the motorway, still having fun with 770 horsepower, I pass yet another V8 Scania. This one flashes to let me in, momentarily emitting enough lumens from its three rows of light-bars to confuse passing pilots. I never thought I’d say it, but I’m jealous.