Quon-upmanship | TRUCK REVIEW – UD

As the third string to the Volvo group bow, UD provides one of three reasons for operators to keep all their purchases under the one roof. Words by Brenton O’Connor

The newly revised UD Quon (pronounced k-won) was previewed earlier this year at the Brisbane Truck Show. Now, with stock availability across the country, PowerTorque has been taking a closer look at a brand with a great history of durability and reliability with the assistance of some of the key UD management team to learn more about the Quon and also to drive the vehicle in a variety of different specifications and vocations.

The Quon makes use of much of the shared componentry from the Volvo Group, including engines, transmissions, axles and safety systems. This commonality or similarity of technical aspects provides an advantage to operators in terms of sharper pricing through the economies of scale achieved via much larger sales volumes and the greater efficiencies that result from the investment by the group as a whole.

The components are tweaked to suit the individual brands’ characteristics, and, with regards to the Quon, the 11-litre engine is specified to meet the Japanese emissions standards, which are slightly higher than the Euro 6 mandated levels. Tare weight of the latest version has been reduced across the range, with Mark Strambi, acting vice-president of UD Trucks Australia, confirming a reduction of “between 100 and 250 kg dependent upon the variant selected”.

Powering the new Quon is the GH11TD, which is a 10.84-litre, inline, six-cylinder turbocharged and intercooled engine. For the Quon it’s available in three different power outputs ranging from 287 to 338 kW (390-460 hp), with torque output rated between 1750 and 2200 Nm.

The Quon also benefits from an improved driveline, with UD launching its sixth version of its ESCOT automated manual transmission (AMT). ESCOT stands for Easy, Safe, Controlled, Transmission and it features 12 forward and 2 reverse gears, including a manual mode. This is controlled by a new design of transmission selection lever, which is virtually identical to the industry benchmarked Volvo I-Shift. The new shift lever makes a lot of sense, and its operation is intuitive, unlike some of its European competitors. ESCOT is the only available transmission offering, with no manual transmission available.

Available in both prime mover and rigid specification, the Quon comes in a variety of both wheelbase and driveline options. These options include 4×2 and 6×4 prime mover spec, 6×2 rigid, 6×4 in long wheelbase for rigid trays and curtainsiders, and as a short-wheelbase rigid for tipper bodies.

The UD Quon has a maximum GCM of 60 tonnes for B-double applications, based upon the GW 26 460 model. However, upon specific customer application and engineering approval by UD, this GCM can be increased to higher weights.

Cabin access to the Quon is excellent, with cascading steps and good grab handles to make entry and exit both safe and easy. Once inside, the standard-fit suspension seat from UD lacks the multitude of adjustments and lumbar support options drivers experience from seat manufacturers like ISRI and Grammer. Furthermore, like most Japanese trucks, seat travel for tall drivers is limited and drivers over 188 cm (6’2”) in height will struggle for adequate legroom.

The interior has been markedly improved and looks modern and feels of high quality. The trucks available on the day included a variety of interior fit-outs including a brushed aluminium look dashboard and a wood grain dashboard, as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The combination of the brushed aluminium facia and the leather-wrapped steering wheel was particularly visually appealing.

Furthermore, the interior is really well spec’d, including the automatic climate control system, which negates the need to constantly adjust the cabin temperature. The new integrated colour display in the main instrument cluster was also welcome and provided all relevant driver information via the multifunction steering wheel. The interior comfort was closer to European expectations than Japanese, with very quiet interior noise levels. The ride quality of the Quon was excellent, and with light steering effort it made negotiating the streets of Brisbane easy.

The Quon is available with both leaf spring and airbag rear suspension, providing choice for purchasers. Spring suspension has always been quite appealing to council buyers due to their robustness and simplicity and was one of the major features of the Quon’s predecessor, the UD CWA 45.

One of the vehicles displayed was the CW 26 390 fitted with a hardox tipping body, towing a plant trailer loaded to a gross weight of 34 tonnes. This particular vehicle was the most surprising of all the units tested on the day. Given the low horsepower rating and the spring suspension, I was expecting both lacklustre performance and a harsh ride. This was certainly not evident when driving the vehicle, and the engine did a superb job of moving the vehicle along, testimony to the incredibly low engine speed for this model of 900 rpm where it achieves maximum torque of 1750 Nm.

The ride of the spring suspension was equally surprisingly, and, had I not been told, I could easily have assumed it was riding on the alternate suspension option of the electrically adjustable, eight-bag air suspension.

With the engine at idle speed at an extremely low 450 rpm there was significant vibration experienced through the cabin, suggesting that raising the idle speed would smooth out the combustion cycle.

At the top end of the range sits the flagship model, the Quon GW 26 460, and I was able to experience this unit hooked up to a set of B-double curtainsider trailers coming in at 59.78 tonnes. Once again, the result was particularly surprising and the 6×4 definitely surpassed my expectations before getting behind the wheel. Given the high gross weight, the small engine displacement and relatively low horsepower and torque ratings, the truck did a remarkable job. The 4.50:1 rear axle ratio no doubt helped this impression and I found turning off the eco mode via a button on the multifunction steering wheel made for a better experience, as the gears were held longer between shifts.

The ESCOT AMT was noticeably intuitive and seemed to manage to be in the right gear at the right time. On the highway, the combination made frequent use of the ESCOT roll function to improve fuel economy through its ability to neutralise the transmission when there was no acceleration or braking input from the driver. The four-stage engine brake system was good and provided very impressive levels of retardation, particularly when on the maximum setting.

In terms of application, the Quon was never designed to play the role of running on linehaul as a B-double configuration. That’s an area where both Volvo and Mack have the VGA interests at heart and perform well on these applications – it would be more than adequate as a local, metropolitan B-double prime mover. Where the Quon will make a name for itself is suitability for shifting containers off the wharf and delivering them throughout our capital cities. In other B-double applications, where volumes are high and weights are less than 60 tonnes, this truck would be ideal.

When it comes to providing high safety standards the Quon stands out from its competitors. To date, UD is the only Japanese heavy truck manufacturer to fit disc brakes as standard equipment. The QUON specification also includes a myriad of safety items as standard equipment, including traffic eye brake system, traffic eye cruise control, lane departure warning system, UD stability control and driver alert system. Whilst many of these safety offerings have been available from European truck manufacturers for some time, it’s a first for a Japanese truck, which is a real credit to UD.

The UD QUON is an impressive package, and, when matched to the right application, will be a real workhorse and should carry on UD’s reputation of building tough, reliable trucks. By utilising technology and componentry that’s already well proven and reliable from across the Volvo group, potential purchasers face a low-risk decision to put their faith in UD.

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