The latest release from Mack Trucks gives trucking operators access to all of the latest technology, but in a package which hits all of the right notes for the traditional Mack truck owner, it’s the rational Anthem.
Mack Trucks as a brand have always been pragmatists, coming up with practical solutions to the kinds of practical problems, which the Australian trucking industry has had to deal with, and the Anthem system is what trucks in the 2020s will need.
On a simple level, the new Anthem model is the brand’s replacement for the Granite model range which it has been selling over the last decade. The engine and chassis and many of the components would be very familiar to fans of the current models, but the bonnet and cabin interior is clearly completely new. Plus – there’s a new integrated sleeper available on a Mack for the first time.
However, this is only half of the story. This is not just a new cabin design; this is a new truck building system with all of the latest technology integrated into the truck build. It is this new system which will not only be appearing in the new Anthem model but will also be the standard operating system and and interior design on the Mack trucks further up the range, i.e. the Trident and the Superliner.
At first sight, and for most the that would have been online on US websites at the Anthem’s initial launch, the truck looks a little odd, quite Transformers-like, with angular folds in the metal and a blocky feel. However, and this was something PowerTorque first experienced in a limited test drive back in 2018 just after the model’s US launch, it is much better looking in the metal than in photos.
This is very much the case when meeting the first iteration of the Anthem design on the road in Australia. The truck looks different and the angular nature of the design does make it stick out from the crowd. Recent years have seen the US ProStar and Cascadia aero design arrive in Australia, with very smooth and un-angular cabin designs, the Anthem is very different.
Notwithstanding the shape, the rational Anthem cabin is expected to perform well in terms of fuel saving through aerodynamics, but Mack are not willing to make any claims until the model has a few more runs on the board. Suffice it to say that Mack need to have got their sums right on the slipperiness of this design, since Australian truck buyers have finally discovered fuel consumption as an issue in the last ten years.
The truck tested by PowerTorque had a gold bulldog on the front bonnet, denoting a fully Mack driveline, the MP8 13 litre Mack engine, the 12 speed M-drive AMT, Mack rear axles at a ratio of 3.40:1 and the Mack Air Ride suspension. All of these components come out of the Volvo Group components system, although only Mack use the 3.4 ratio on rear axles.
Just this simple move to 3.40:1 is a considerable change for Mack, with many of the traditional buyers used to 3.78:1. However, that ratio suited the older Mack engines, but this lower revving MP8 engine should be much more fuel efficient and effective with a taller diff.
This Anthem model has been designed to take the place of the Granite model in the market, although with an enhanced horsepower rating available, now boosted to 535hp (393kW) and with 2,603Nm (1,920 ft lb) of torque on tap.
This driveline is a familiar one from the previous generation of trucks, the main difference here is that all of these components communicate in a much more sophisticated and effective way using the new electronic language and architecture of the rational Anthem platform. Basically, a lot more data is flowing through all of the Anthem’s systems, at a higher speed, decisions are made instantaneously, the truck responds to driver input immediately.
Opening the bonnet has been much simplified, with a single latch underneath the front of the bonnet which releases it. The driver then simply reaches up to grab the bulldog and pull the bonnet over until it locks. To put it back down, simply release the strut and lower the bonnet until you hear the reassuring click when it sits back into place.