Taking somewhat of a back seat at the launch of the latest versions of the heavy-duty DAF CF and XF models earlier in 2020, the DAF LF range competes mainly with Japanese brands in the 12 to 24 tonne category.
A number of innovations has been added to the DAF LF model range, which includes significant driveline enhancements, an upmarket new interior, a contemporary exterior design, a comprehensive instrument panel and improved visibility for the driver. Despite the additional features the LF has managed to retain its low kerb weight and provide efficient payload capacities.
The external design provides the LF with a distinctive look and there is no mistaking the manufacturer’s identity due to the large DAF logo at the centre of the grille. Front corner air deflectors help fuel economy by directing airflow around the sides of the cab as well as keeping road grime off door handles and mirrors.
The new adjustable roof air deflector and side fenders improve aerodynamics and lower fuel consumption especially at higher speeds. Three cab configurations are available: a day cab, a sleeper cab with 700mm bunk, and the extended day cab which is essentially the sleeper without the bunk and retains the three good sized storage lockers in the floor. The LF cab offers many other storage options for documents and personal belongings including door pockets and two large compartments located above the windscreen.
The LF has good accessibility with doors that open to a wide 90 degrees, well placed grab handles and convenient illuminated steps. Most drivers involved in urban distribution drivers are frequently in and out of the truck and the considerations in the design of the doors and steps will certainly be appreciated. A minor trade-off for the low entry is the need for an engine tunnel but it is by no means intrusive.
Urban distribution trucks typically don’t exhibit too many considerations for the driver so the DAF LF’s driver-friendly ergonomics are quite exceptional, starting with the easy cab access and egress. Once in the cab the air suspended seat has ample adjustments and combined with the pneumatically locked multi-adjustable steering wheel and column, any sized driver can be accommodated.
The driver is treated to ideal mirror positioning and a clear range of visibility to the front and sides. There is an option for an additional window in the lower section of the kerbside door to increase the identification of the presence of other road users such as cyclists.
In recognition of the fact that much of the distribution task is carried out during the hours of darkness, the DAF engineers have opted for halogen headlights enclosed behind protective Lexan covers. Fog lights combined with cornering lights are also available as options.
The LF hasn’t missed out on the ‘high-end’ trim which has earned significant appeal in the larger CF and XF cabs. The flat angled dashboard provides ease of use and functionality with all controls readily within reach and logically grouped by function.
The Driver Information Panel provides more information to increase comfort and efficiency and is the window to the DAF Driver Performance Assistant (DPA) which employs state of the art technology and encourages the driver to get the best overall performance and efficiency out of the LF.
The electronic analysis package is similar to what is fitted to the CF and XF ranges and is a good response to the market’s ever-increasing demand for vehicle data.
Regardless of the aerodynamic and driveline efficiencies a crucial factor in fuel economy is the way in which any particular driver operates the vehicle.
The DPA records the driving of individual drivers, benchmarks this against an ideal, and gives useful tips for efficient acceleration and braking, as well as optimal gear selection.
The LF’s multifunction steering wheel includes finger controls for the cruise control, engine brake and the audio system.
State-of-the-art inclusions extend to the LF’s safety systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Advanced Emergency Braking System, Lane Departure Warning System and Vehicle Stability Control.
If, despite all of the electronic aids, a collision is unavoidable, the occupants still have DAF’s Protective Cab Suspension Construction, seatbelt pre-tensioners and a driver’s airbag.
The Protective Cab Suspension Construction is a PACCAR proprietary technology which, in the case of a collision, helps to absorb a significant amount of the collision energy, thus protecting the occupants and enabling easy access for emergency services.
The LF is powered by the Euro 6 PACCAR PX-7 engine which displaces 6.7 litres and is available in the LF range in two power ratings with the models referred to as the LF260 and the LF290.
The engine in the ‘260’ version produces 194kW (264 hp) at 2,300 rpm and 1,000Nm of torque at 1,000-1,700 rpm. The ‘290’ specification delivers 217kW (295 hp) and 1,100 Nm at the same engine speeds as the 260. To meet the Euro 6 emission standards the PX-7 engines use a combination of EGR, SCR and DPF technologies.
PACCAR claims its PX engines are designed to simplify maintenance and minimise operational costs and this is confirmed by tilting the cab and observing the excellent access to service components such as filters. Daily checks of essential fluids are easily performed via the lift up front panel, which also provides convenient access to the numerous electrical relays.
These engines are programmed to automatically shut down after five minutes of idling. Relative engine quietness is achieved in part due to various component and brackets being integrated into the engine block and cylinder head which reduces vibration and harmonics.
A six speed ZF AStronic automated manual transmission is standard in the LF260 and the 12-speed AStronic is standard equipment for the LF290. Transmission options include the ZF Ecolite six speed manual as well as an Allison five speed full automatic.
Front suspension is provided by parabolic springs with the rear featuring two or four bag (on the 6×4) DAF Electronically Controlled Air Suspension.
Ride is enhanced and body roll reduced due to the fitment of effective shock absorbers and front and rear stabiliser bars.
Ventilated disc brakes are fitted at each wheel, complemented by the engine’s effective exhaust brake.
The LF260 has a GVM of 12,000 kgs and the standard GVM of the 4×2 LF 290 is 18 tonnes, and a GVM of 23,500 kgs is possible in 6×2 format due to the factory fitted, air suspended and lifted rear tag axle.
The 6×2 is only available in sleeper cab format.
The LF boasts the smallest turning circle in its class thanks mainly to the tight wheel angles possible with its front steering geometry.
Available in a number of practical wheelbase lengths, the chassis frame incorporates several innovations which will appeal to body builders and consequently dealers and customers, such as Body Attachment Module (BAM) programmes and pre-drilled chassis rails, which contribute to quick and easy installation of bodies.
By positioning various components such as air tanks and braking system components on the inside of the rails, the LF’s chassis is completely flat which provides for extra flexibility for different configurations.
The chassis rails continue in their full size all the way to the rear in order to maximise the support for the fitting of tailgate loaders which will be a typical addition for the type of work the LF can be expected to be involved in.
The XF and CF DAF trucks have defied the 2020 downward market trend and have maintained similar sales numbers to those achieved in the previous year. The DAF LF, with its standout features including driver-focused design, excellent mechanicals and fuel efficiency, and state of the art electronics, can be expected to perform well in the medium to light heavy category.