Proffessional bus and truck talk
Wednesday February 10, 2016 – Everyone knows the Actros. It first came to Australia in 1995, as something of a replacement for the 1980s V-Series. Despite some electronics problems, for many years it was considered the go-to truck for anyone who wanted a heavy-duty – but high-tech – long-distance haul machine. The Actros II was introduced in 2002 and the Actros III in 2007.
But times change, technology moves on, and in recent years, even the Actros III has started seeming a little long in the tooth. Particularly since Daimler’s Detroit Diesel DD13 and DD15 engines started to roll out in Freightliners and Western Stars.
Fortunately, however, that’s all about to change…
Later this year, the brand-new Mercedes Benz Actros will roll onto Australian soil. And it’s everything the original was in its time, plus a helluva lot more.
The first thing you need to know about the new Actros is that it’s a completely new beast, from the ground up. Including the engine. In fact, it’s so different that Daimler – the manufacturer of Mercedes Benz trucks – isn’t even calling it the Actros IV. Instead it’s known simply as the New Actros. The only trait it shares with its predecessors is the name.
In fact, it’s even quite different from the European version of the New Actros, which was released way back in 2012. It’s undergone an exhaustive battery of tests and manufacturing modifications to ready it for the tough Australian environment.
From the outside, the most noticeable difference is the distinctive and imposing aerodynamic cab design, with a more slanted windscreen (15 degrees), a new mirror mount design and redesigned front deflector tunnels – the product of 2,600 hours of wind tunnel testing.
But the improvements aren’t just skin-deep. Inside the cab, you’ll find new two-tone leather seats that are 40mm wider and have been completely redeveloped to include heating, massage and ventilation. The cabin itself is a very spacious 4m high and 2.3m deep, making it bigger than any other standard length truck. Up-front, you get a keyless push-button ignition, large circular instruments and an LCD information screen. And by way of safety smarts, the Actros now features lane departure warning, proximity control and adaptive cruise control.
You’ll also notice the shifter-stalk is now mounted on the steering column, making it much more ergonomic than the previous armrest-mounted lever, because it doesn’t require you to completely take your hand off the wheel to override the shift.
And under the hood, the changes continue. The afore-mentioned shifter-stalk controls a third generation 12-speed PowerShift automated manual transmission that’s quick and smooth, and has 3 modes (power, economy and creep). The driveline is complemented by the new Eco-Roll function that saves fuel by intelligently disengaging the clutch whenever possible, allowing the vehicle to coast.
The shifter-stalk also controls the three-stage engine brake that gives you 300 kW of braking power (although you can opt for a high-performance variant, which gives you 400 kW).
The rest of your stopping power comes from the Actros’s new electro-pneumatic Brake System (EPB), which includes ABS and anti-slip regulation (ASR). Importantly, the ABS doesn’t just kick in when you brake heavily; the EPB system actually constantly brakes each wheel individually so you can stop faster and enjoy greater stability.
There’s also an optional water retarder auxiliary brake – that doesn’t wear, requires no maintenance, uses only existing coolant water, and is 20% lighter than the oil retarders on the old Actros models. This is particularly important because Mercedes Benz claims you can use it for up to 85% of all your braking!
And finally… the bit you’ve all been waiting for: the engine. In a big departure for Mercedes Benz, the New Actros packs an in-line six, instead of a V8. You can choose either a 13 or 15-litre version, and also have your choice of power output. These engines share the same fundamental design as the Detroit Diesel DD13 and DD15, but use up to 7% less fuel.
The New Actros is available in 3 models, all tailored to Australian conditions, and all ready for anything you can throw at them.
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