Re-thinking the Coronado design to create a truck that suits Australian trucking and the country’s unique working conditions is a bold move by Freightliner. To date, most US OEMs simply tweak North American designs to bring them to Australia, although this method naturally limits the options for some operators back here.
US company Freightliner has gone a different way and adjusted its portfolio to suit the local reality. The Argosy, for instance, is only sold here, in New Zealand and South Africa. It is solely built for right-hand-drive southern hemisphere markets and has been adapted as such. But it was originally designed for the US market as well – before they fell out of love with cab overs – so it remains a North American truck by definition.
Coming up with the 114 is a different kettle of fish; it is a dramatic reconfiguration of the truck to fit within our legislative envelope. It is aimed for the major segments of the heavy-duty trucking fleet – the unique B-double prime mover, the tough truck and dog combination, as well as the full-length semi. This is a move by Freightliner into the conventional trucking heartland. They may have supplied trucks into these segments before, but now they have something tailored to suit Aussie truckies.
To see how the 114 performs, Prime Mover took the truck for a trip out of Melbourne along the Western Highway to the truck stop at Ararat and back into the city. Pulling a B-double at close to GCM and pushing through the heavy Melbourne traffic gave us a chance to see what a normal day's work may be like in the new truck working in a modern fleet.
The truck itself is the B-double specification model, with a 34-inch sleeper, an 18-speed Roadranger and a DD 15 Detroit engine. This is the kind of standard model we can expect to see out on our highways. At this specification the truck is also ideally set up for operation as a semi prime mover pulling a 48-foot trailer, another standard combination on Australian roads.
In that sense, it’s no surprise that the truck looks like an Australian truck when first walking up to it. It has the short punchy bonnet favoured by all of its conventional rivals in the market. The look is still definitely Freightliner – but with plenty of cues telling us it is an Aussie.
Climbing up into the cab, it has the familiar Freightliner look with the white (ivory) instruments and wraparound dash. The ignition key is down low by the driver's right knee, as usual. Fire the engine up and the sound is definitely from Detroit. It is different to the Series 60, but they did manage to create an engine note familiar enough to our ears.
The Detroit DD 15 fitted into the truck is rated at 560hp (418 kW), as it should be for B-double work. There is a high degree of responsiveness from the engine with torque and power on tap, as and when required. Maximum power arrives at 1800rpm, but 500hp are available down at 1400 rpm already to ensure the kind of flexibility needed is there.
Torque will max out at 1200 rpm, reaching 1850 ft lb (2510 Nm), but hangs on to be still 1635 ft lb (2217 Nm) as it gets close to maximum power at 1800. These figures suggest this engine has the characteristics of many modern engines, to keep revs low and change at points much lower than were used in the past.