The ninja with the heart of a viking
UD Trucks have made it no secret that their aim is to be the best Japanese truck available on the Australian market and have incorporated Japanese manufacturing expertise with European influences that extend beyond the Volvo based driveline.
UD Trucks became a part of the Volvo Group in 2007 and the two-way exchange of philosophy and technology since then is evident in the latest UD Quon. It embodies the European parent’s design and technology with the Japanese production techniques to produce a truck that is more than the sum of its various individual components.
Unlike its Japanese competition, UD doesn’t have an extensive range that covers everything from the sub-4, 500 kg gross vehicle mass (GVM) delivery and tradie trucks to B-double rated prime movers. As with its cousins Volvo and Mack, UD concentrates on the heavy end of the spectrum and it shows.
Power is from the Volvo designed, Japanese manufactured, 11-litre engine, rated at 460hp with a maximum torque of 2,200Nm from 1,200 rpm. UD was the world’s first truck manufacturer to employ SCR urea injection back in 2004 and this engine complies with Euro 6 emission standards. Also available are the 420hp/1,900Nm and 390hp/1,750Nm ratings that have carried over from the previous model. The 460 is very responsive in acceleration mode as it pulls well on grades with the 41 tonne GVM set up for this test.
A forward facing camera and radar system is integral to the Quon’s ‘traffic eye’ safety system, which incorporates lane departure and adaptive cruise control related to the speed of the vehicles in the same lane.
The driver alert system produces a warning if the truck detects a reduction in input from the driver up to the point of autonomously applying the brakes when the system detects that a collision is imminent. The numerous safety and economy settings are set at their maximum as the default setting. Systems have to be deliberately turned off to disconnect them and when this occurs, for whatever reason, the relevant indicator lights show red.
We had taken this particular truck on a very short drive a few weeks earlier and in the ensuing period it had been treated to a wheel alignment which resolved any previous impression that the steering was just a little vague. At all legal speeds and on a variety of road surfaces that are both wet and dry the Quon feels very stable and driver input and feel back through the two tone leather and walnut steering wheel are well balanced.
The transmission is the ESCOT-6 which is the UD version of the 12 speed Volvo I-Shift. This new model has a revised shifter lever which has a simple fore and aft movement rather than the dual gate of the predecessor. When manual mode is selected there is up and down buttons used to select gear via the driver’s left thumb. This can also be used when in automated mode to downshift to increase the effectiveness of the engine braking. The transmission’s Escot roll feature comes on automatically provided the engine brake is in the off position and neutralises the driveline allowing the engine to return to idle while gravity and momentum keep the Quon rolling.
The four-stage engine braking does a great job of holding the 41 tonnes of vehicle at a steady speed on the runoff of hills. The first two stages activate the exhaust brake while the next two add valve actuated engine compression braking to the mix. The Quon’s blended braking system automatically brings on the engine brake when the service brakes are applied to not only maximise safety but also to reduce wear and tear on the truck’s all-wheel disc brakes and whatever system is fitted to the trailer being towed.
This is definitely a drivers’ truck as evident starting from the additional hand rails for cab access to the layout and comfort features of the interior. The dash has benefitted from a redesign and is now lower and closer to the driver with a more wrap around effect.
The tacho and speedo instruments are large and the fuel and air pressure gauges are a series of LEDs that are easy to read at a glance in all light conditions. The dash switches are relocatable and have their own IP address so can be moved between sockets and retain their original function to provide a layout that suits individual drivers. Electrical outlets for 12 and 24 volts are built in as is a USB socket. A feature carried over from the previous Quon is the convenient hot and cold drink holders located on the centre console.
The prime mover provided for this test is a pre-production unit and subsequent production models have even more sound and temperature insulation fitted. The units available to the public must be very well insulated indeed as this one with its lower level of deadening seems equal to European cabs in terms of sound insulation.
The cab is fitted with an aero kit including a roof spoiler and extensions at the rear of the cab and the optional 200 litre additional fuel tank is fitted to the chassis so the batteries are located in a poly box atop the chassis rails directly behind the cab.
The driver support system includes the NENPI feature, which is Japanese for ‘economy coach’ and provides suggestions to maximise the fuel efficiency. Overall the new Quon is claimed to be five percent more fuel efficient than the previous model. Other new features that will help reduce running costs, include 60,000 kilometre service intervals and sealed for life wheel bearings and other than the turntable, there is nothing to grease.
The new Quon is certainly as good a Japanese truck in its class as any other and in many respects matches the equivalent Europeans as well.