Straight Talking | TRUCK REVIEW – Mercedes-Benz – ACTROS

Mercedes-Benz continues to shake up the market with the release of its latest rigid truck chassis.

There’s no doubt about it, Mercedes-Benz is on a roll. The reaction by early adopters of the latest Actros models has established the bona fides of the breed, with operators forecasting substantial savings in total cost of operation.

The enthusiasm for Actros is not just confined to the operators; the drivers are also universally applauding the ride comfort, interior appointments and low fatigue levels, catapulting the brand back into the spotlight as the truck the industry is talking about.

Having successfully introduced its new generation of prime movers in October last year, Mercedes-Benz is now releasing a family of versatile Euro 6 compliant rigid models covering everything from distribution to waste applications.

Just like the Actros prime mover flagship, the rigid models bring a suite of new technology including Euro 6 emission ratings, fuel economy savings, reduced AdBlue consumption, advanced safety technology and new levels of comfort and refinement.

The new rigid model range was part of a comprehensive local testing program that has now included more than 35 customers, 20 trucks and more than 1.8 million kilometres. The model line-up features a wide range of application-specific models, configured to get the job done. Later this year will see the introduction of the construction and all-wheel-drive rigid models ready for off-road work.

The rigid model line-up now available extends from a 12-tonne rigid city distribution unit through to a 32-tonne 8×4 model that can be used for palletised freight, equipment haulage or waste work.
The 8.0-litre OM 936 six-cylinder engine is available with either 299 hp or 354 hp, while the 11-litre OM 470 unit is available with ratings of 394 hp, 428 hp or 455 hp. The 8.0-litre OM 936, features one or two turbochargers depending on the model (using asymmetrical turbo technology) and high-pressure fuel injection. The OM 470 11-litre uses a single asymmetrical turbocharger and X-Pulse variable high-pressure injection. This engine uses a higher compression ratio and delivers higher torque at lower engine rpm.

Engine braking has been upgraded across the range, with 300 kW for the 8.0-litre and 340 kW for the 11-litre unit. The engine brake comes on automatically when the service brakes are engaged. Three cylinders are used in phase one, six-cylinders are used in phase two, while six-cylinders, the EGR valve and wastegate are used in phase three for optimum braking power. Additionally, a water retarder offering maximum braking force of up to 750 kW is available as an option.

New-generation rigid models feature a full Electronic Braking System with a back-up pneumatic system and anti-locking brakes. Also standard is a hill-hold function to aid moving away from a stop on a grade.

While these two engines will cover most applications, customers are also able to select the OM 471 13-litre and OM 473 16-litre for specific rigid models.

All engines use one-piece steel pistons instead of aluminium, and have reinforced con rods and a more rigid crankcase.

The Mercedes-Benz asymmetric turbocharger improves performance at low engine speeds. The asymmetric turbo design, with its fixed turbine geometry, varies the intake flow with a simple valve. This turbocharger design features less moving parts than a variable geometry turbocharger. To achieve Euro 6 compliance, the engines use Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) with AdBlue/DEF fluid, Exhaust Gas Recirculation and a Diesel Particulate Filter.

Fully-automated 8-speed and 12-speed PowerShift 3 transmissions are standard across the rigid range and feature ratio shifts that are 20 percent faster than the previous-generation unit, plus a new creeper gear for low speed work such as when moving into loading bays.

The new PowerShift 3 transmission also features an EcoRoll function that disconnects the drivetrain in overrun mode in certain circumstances when the truck is in automatic mode and is travelling in excess of 55 km/h. It returns to normal operation if the accelerator, brake pedal or engine brake is applied.

There are three different cab groups, starting with the smaller 2.3 m S Classic Space for the 1630L 4×2 medium-duty distribution model, moving up to the 2.3 m M Classic Space for 2530 and 2535L 6×2 heavy-duty distribution and capping off with the 2.3 m M Classic Space for the 6×4 and 8×4 heavy-duty distribution and vocational models. Sleeper cabs and rear seat options are available on select models.

All of the cabs exceed the Swedish cab strength test standard as well as ECE R29, while a driver’s airbag is standard on all models. The cabs come standard with roof-mounted air-horns, remote locking, electric mirrors and a locally-developed touchscreen sat/nav and audio unit with DVD player and Bluetooth connectivity.

The new driver-focused interior delivers a big improvement in refinement levels, with controls located well within reach of the driver. Several items can now be controlled using the steering wheel controls. Customers can also option up the cabins with interior style packs and are able to choose the wood-look/velour Home Line treatment or the metal-look chrome Style Line treatment.

The new rigid range comes standard with an Electronic Braking System, with key models incorporating Stability Control Assist, ABS, Hill Hold Assist and Traction Control. Models 18-tonne and above are also available with optional advanced safety systems including Active Brake Assist 4.

Mercedes-Benz is offering advanced safety technology to customers of rigid models 18-tonnes and above with an optional Safety Pack that includes Lane Keeping Assist, Proximity Control Assist, Attention Assist and Active Brake Assist 4.

Lane Keeping Assist warns a driver if the truck departs the lane without indicators engaged while travelling at more than 60 km/h.

Proximity Control Assist helps the driver maintain a distance to the vehicle in front. It is now effective from 0 km/h and includes the ability to come to a complete stop and start again, as long as the truck is not stopped for more than two seconds. In that event, the driver needs only to tap the accelerator and the system will engage again.

Attention Assist monitors the driver’s attentiveness based on steering behaviour, lane keeping and driver activity. It activates Lane Keeping Assist as a first warning (if the system is deactivated) and issues another warning after 15 minutes if the inattentiveness worsens.

Active Brake Assist 4 has the ability to perform emergency braking when it senses a road hazard. It now has the ability to perform full emergency braking for stationary objects and is active from 0 km/h. It can even automatically begin partial braking for pedestrians.

Mercedes-Benz is offering a complimentary servicing programme for key on-highway new-generation rigid models. The coverage for medium models includes Best Basic servicing for two years/250,000 km and five years/500,00 km for heavy-duty models. This offer does not apply for off-road, specialised, waste and steel suspended models.

Keeping track of your new Mercedes-Benz has been simplified through the release of a smart telematics system for the Australian market. This is a premium fleet management tool including factory-fitted hardware and an Australian-developed software suite.

In addition to the desktop portal with full functionality, Mercedes-Benz Telematics also includes innovative apps for both the fleet operator and driver that increase convenience and visibility.

The telematics app allows the fleet operator to view a large amount of real-time data on each truck, including vehicle location, driving behaviour, alerts such as over-speeding, sudden braking instances and geofence breaches, along with other features. The driver’s app includes driver ID functionality and access to their own driving data.

The telematics hardware is installed in new-generation Mercedes-Benz trucks, but can also be retrofitted to selected earlier models to aid with fleet integration. A large amount of data can be exported to the fleet operator in MS Excel, CSV and PDF formats. The system also allows for alerts to be sent regarding extreme vehicle incidents, as well as an alert if movement of the vehicle is detected when the ignition is not on.

The Mercedes-Benz Telematics system uses the Telstra 3G network for ultimate coverage. It features onboard memory that can retain three months of data when not in GSM range, has a battery back-up system and a secure encrypted cloud portal.

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