Is Bigger Necessarily Better?

is bigger necessarily better?

Taking the latest Scania out for a test with top horsepower and the extended cabin, the question PowerTorque is asking is, is bigger necessarily better? The answer is a bit more complicated than you would think.

There is something about a big banger. Just the sound of the numbers, ‘770hp’ sets off a little flurry of excitement. Whereas, the statement that the rear wall of a truck cabin has been extended back 270mm does not have the same visceral effect. 

However, at the end of the trip from Sydney, down to Melbourne, it was probably the dimension which seemed to be more important than the other magic number.

The question has to be just how the Scania 770hp engine performs in those functions for which we need as much power as possible. Climbing Aeroplane in a fully loaded B-double is one of those times where the driver can expect something special from the big banger. As it happens, the number which impressed on the grade wasn’t the 770, but the 3700Nm (2729 ft lb) of torque which makes this truck an unrelenting climber. 

is bigger necessarily better?

As the truck gets onto any grade at all, it is the fact that just about every time it comes up behind a similarly fully loaded B-double, you indicate, pull out and cruise on by. The rest of the time there’s no difference, everyone is limited to 100 km/h. On the climb the truck is running at 86 km/h at 1600rpm in 10th gear.

The cruise control is connected with the topographical data which is available on board and the kind of anticipation this system adds top the mix can be noticed just before the top of a rise, or at the foot of. a grade. The system also uses the eco-roll when it sees an opportunity.

With this much power it is possible to really down speed the engine and at 100 km/h the engine is ticking over at 1250rpm. With the revs that low you are saving fuel, but you do have a V8 770hp engine which is going to be more thirsty, it’s a matter of getting the balance right between the two and playing those two factors off against each other. It’s the old equation of matching power output and rear axle diff ratio, and it is about a sweet spot.

is bigger necessarily better?

This is a continual dynamic and often simply a matter of opinion. An engine with around 600 hp will probably give you a similar performance with better fuel economy, but it is such a fine balance and there is room for a wide set of opinions on the topic. Fleets vary widely reckoning on a sweet spot all of the way from the mid 500s to the mid 600s, in terms of horsepower. 

The other factor here is emphasised by the fact this truck has the number 770 emblazoned down the side, suggesting it’s all about marketing, but it’s not a vanity project, Scania know that there will be people who will buy this truck because it’s got 770hp, and why not? Perhaps the truck maker should go into the business of selling very expensive 770 stickers to put on the doors of more frugal trucks?

The fact that the number 770 is emblazoned down the side of the cab in very large numerals tells you this truck is being sold on that figure. These numbers come at a price, but it is a price that some people are willing to pay, whether it is for kudos, or driver retention.

Surprisingly, there was no indication anywhere on the cabin to tell passing trucks this has the bigger cabin. In fact its size is disguised by the aerofoils which sprout from the rear of the standard cab. Because of this, the 270mm bulge in the rear of the cabin wall is hidden by the aero kit, talk about hiding your light under a bushel!


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