The 8x2 rigid truck market has been coming to life in Australia as distribution operators look to rigid trucks that have the advantages of four axles without the disadvantages once considered inherent in single drives. With clever architecture and the latest technologies this Scania New Truck Generation P360 delivers win-win results.
Scania launched its New Truck Generation in Australia just over a year ago and as expected in the period since the majority of focus has been on its prime mover range.
Which is quite understandable as that involves big driver-friendly cabs, innovative yet well-developed technologies and powerful drivetrains right up to the 730hp V8.
Tasks involving metropolitan and regional freight distribution are not necessarily centred on high and mighty long haul prime movers and Scania’s P series fits the requirements of an increasing number of local operators who perform such functions as supermarket and beverage deliveries.
Available as a rigid and as a prime mover the new Scania P series cabin is set low and forward on the chassis and access is via only two steps which is great if you’re in and out of the cab multiple times per shift.
The driver’s position is also located slightly forward and to the right than the previous models and combined with the narrow ‘A’ pillars provides great almost-180 degree vision.
Although this test truck doesn’t have it, Scania now have the option of a transom window inserted into the lower portion of the passenger side door.
This enhances the driver’s ability to see if cyclists or pedestrians have positioned themselves alongside the front of the truck in situations such as being stopped at traffic lights.
This particular truck has been specified with consideration of its role in assessment by potential customers as well as specialist media so logically the cab’s interior is equipped to the standard of a luxury corner office rather than a working truck.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s very much appreciated and why shouldn’t local drivers be as spoiled as their long-haul brethren with features such as premium leather seats? This is officially a sleeper cab and features a foam mattress that is 800mm wide at its maximum but is narrower in the areas behind the seats.
Staying with the luxury interior theme the premium media unit has a colour screen, great GPS functions and a very straightforward Bluetooth connection for smartphones.
There is a 12-volt outlet in dash plus a USB port and auxiliary audio sockets which provide options for charging accessories such as phones and tablets.
A good-sized fridge is accessed by either sliding the drawer out between the seats or lifting the bunk base.
The fridge drawer isn’t too deep so that all of the contents are displayed for easy pickings.
The GPS has the Scania Active Prediction Mapping which is a form of machine learning that is especially handy in having the truck select the right gear for any particular point on a previously travelled route while still taking the vehicle’s current gross weight into account.
The adage ‘the truck can’t see the top of the hill’ no longer applies as the predictive abilities of the system achieve such fuel and time saving functions holding a gear and avoiding an unnecessary down shift close to the crest of a hill.
Combined with the Active Cruise Control and Lane Departure Warning systems this takes driver support to the next level.
The Australian version of the Scania New Truck Generation includes such safety features as driver and passenger side curtain airbags plus a driver airbag located on the steering wheel.
Other safety related items include rain sensitive wiper activation. Seeing and being seen is accomplished with halogen headlamps, LED running and clearance lamps plus LED fog lamps and cornering lights.
Some of the more, subtle, changes of the NTG P Series include having the light switches located on the driver’s door along with the controls for mirrors and windows.
The nine litre engine has Scania’s innovative five cylinder configuration with internal balance shafts to cancel out any harmonic vibrations.
Rated at 360hp at 1,900rpm the engine produces an impressive maximum torque for an engine of this size of 1,700Nm between 1,050rpm and 1,350 rpm. Exhaust emissions control is achieved using SCR AdBlue after-treatment and a diesel particulate filter.
The engine has revised engine management software and mechanical changes include upgraded combustion chambers.
Cooling for the engine oil is now thermostatically controlled, which delivers a significant one per cent fuel consumption saving because the oil can now be kept warmer and at its optimum low viscosity which reduces internal friction and drag.
Additionally, the cooling fan now has a larger diameter and is mounted on, and directly driven by, the crankshaft. In addition to making a contribution to improved fuel consumption the new fan design improves cooling capacity, which means the engine maintains a higher working temperature. Other changes that contribute to the fuel savings include increasing the compression ratio from 18.0:1 to 19.0:1.
A five-cylinder engine is available in 280hp, 320hp and 360hp in both Euro 5 and Euro 6 compliance.
The Scania five-cylinder family essentially uses the same technology and design as its six-cylinder, 12.7-litre sibling. The balance shafts and the introduction of asymmetric crank pin pitch (ACPP) to counteract the inherent tendency of five-cylinder engines to vibrate means that the range now runs as smoothly and quietly as a six cylinder engine.
Its natural client base includes customers who want power and low fuel consumption but, due to weight considerations, don’t want to go all the way to a six-cylinder engine.
In addition to the engine exhaust brake this truck is equipped with the Scania R3500 retarder which is so effective that the all disc service brakes are hardly being used at all in normal circumstances.
Attached to the engine is Scania’s familiar 12-speed direct drive Opticruise transmission with two crawler gears.
The driver can select from three modes of transmission control: Standard, Economy and Power.
We travel most of our combined highway and urban test in the Economy setting taking full advantage of the engine’s torque characteristics driving through the 3.08:1 rear axle as well as the Eco-roll coasting function which activates on downhill sections of highway travel and disengages the engine from the driveline allowing the truck to ‘coast’.
A large rotary switch on the dash controls the diff lock and traction control override and provides quick activation when required. Both functions are automatically returned to their normal operations once the truck is travelling above 30km/h.
A challenge for operators of this type of mostly urban delivery truck is often not knowing in advance the likely weight of the payload or how it may vary with multiple pick-ups and deliveries.
Weight across both rear axles can be adjusted pneumatically by changing the pressure in the suspension’s air bags to provide an even spread in normal circumstances or extra weight on the drive wheels if momentary traction is an issue.
This is done using buttons on the dash and can be monitored on the driver’s information screen.
This screen in the NGT models is larger than previously and has a high-resolution display.
Other switches located close to the diff controls activate the complete lifting of the non-driven tag axle if the weight of the load allows it.
Another advantage of the 8x2 configuration is the tare weight saving due to having a beam tag axle when compared with a bogie drive arrangement which would include not just a much heavier rear axle with its differential components but the weight of the axle shafts, the jack shaft and power divider as well.
The addition of the second steer axle allows 11 tonnes across both front axles and the implementation of the combined leaf spring and air bag front suspension delivers excellent ride characteristics on good and not so good roads and has the advantage of not having the need for a complex and heavy mechanical load sharing mechanism.
Practical applications are numerous for the 8x2 configuration of the Scania P Series including load capacity, manoeuvrability, exceptional driver comfort, and fuel efficiency.
Scania also offer a board suite of vehicle monitoring and maintenance contracts which will add to the appeal.