Launched at the Brisbane Truck Show in May, Iveco’s Cursor II engine has undergone a significant upgrade for the 2015-16 season, with the Italian OEM hoping to add a worthwhile alternative to the Stralis and Powerstar line-up that will reduce fuel burn and increase engine life at the same time. To meet the ambitious target, Iveco invested a lot of time and effort into re-developing the engine from the ground up, with ample bench and dyno testing being performed on top of a gruelling 12-month fleet test.
With Iveco claiming the Cursor II has already clocked up more than a million kilometres of B-double work in Australia, Prime Mover managed to secure the Ferrari-red Stralis II that was on show in Brisbane to evaluate the result. However, we were not able to organise a fully loaded B-double set in time for the drive, so we’ll have to take Iveco’s word for it that the Cursor II is strong enough to get the job done in every day life. The fact that the company offers a five-year/one million-kilometre engine warranty from the outset does at least indicate a certain level confidence – but to be sure, we’ll revisit the issue shortly and report back.
Before we take off, we take a look at the spec sheet: The 13-litre Cursor Series II in our test truck produces 560hp and 2,300 Nm of torque, with a nice and flat torque curve delivering the maximum torque from 1,000 rpm all the way through to 1,700 rpm. Engine internals that have been changed from the previous model tom include new alloy pistons designed to reduce friction and improve heat dispersion, as well as a different camshaft and rocker arms, which now have a much harder coating on their wear surfaces to decrease friction even more. A higher capacity oil pump is also fitted to keep all of the moving parts slippery and to remain fractionally apart from each other. On top of that, the designs of the manifolds have been revised – indicating that the new edition is definitely more than just a facelift.
In line with the new layout, the software for the engine calibration has been re-programmed to optimise engine torque delivery as well as operation of the engine fan to obtain what are said to be significantly lower operating temperatures and prolonged engine life. On the emissions front, the Cursor II is sticking with the standard Euro 5 rating for now, using SCR technology with the obligatory 100-litre AdBlue tank. In Europe, Iveco managed to upgrade it to Euro 6 without much effort, so the design does appear to be future-proof.
The transmission is the Iveco version of the ZF EuroTronic II 16-Speed automated manual transmission. Three large buttons (D, N and R) on the left-side of the dash are all it takes to get going, yet automated shifts can still be over-ridden by a solid stalk on the right-hand side of the leather steering wheel. Two pedal manual mode can also be selected, giving the driver full control of the shift points if desired. In auto mode, the EuroTronic will automatically select the most ideal gear according to load, road speed and road conditions while making the most of the low down torque of the engine. When driving bobtail like in our test, it is smart enough to select seventh gear for start-offs and then skips gears until the overdrive 16th is locked in.
Front suspension is a 7.5 tonne parabolic leaf spring setup, while Iveco’s proprietary eight bag Electronically Controlled Air Suspension (ECAS) is smoothing out the bumps in the rear. The rear axles come from Meritor, with the differential locks operated by a rotary selector located on the dash to the driver’s right, while braking comes courtesy of front and rear disc brakes with ABS. Due to the lack of weight we don’t get to test the effectiveness of the engine brake – another issue we will address shortly. Traction control in the guise of Anti-Slip Regulator is standard.
Our show truck is based on the AS-L (Active Space-Long) high-roof Stralis cabin, providing the driver with plenty of space (2.5m x 2.2m). The floor is flat and the sleeper section of the cabin has the space to accommodate both upper and lower bunks; with the upper one capable of being folded flat against the back wall.
The dashboard and instrument cluster are ergonomically designed and intuitively arranged, allowing easy access from the air-suspended and heated ISRI leather seat. Switches are kept to a minimum and most electrical functions are incorporated in the left-hand steering column stalk. The radio/CD MP3 player has Bluetooth connectivity, which can be operated from steering wheel-mounted controls – just like the cruise control and the driver feedback system, which has an LCD screen located centre to the speedo and tacho.
On the road, it soon becomes obvious that the Stralis II is a driver’s truck first and foremost. Even though our initial drive without trailers is quite a harsh one, with some cab pitching and yawing expected, the combination of airbag rear suspension, an air suspended cab and the self-levelling air suspension seat (the same is available for the passenger) equates to a comfortable result.
And, with the exterior having seen plenty of aerodynamic enhancements – including deflectors to take air from around the front of the cab and moulded mirrors and brackets – noise levels are also comfortable. For added efficiency, the air intake for the Cursor II engine is now recessed into the rear side-deflector on the kerb side of the truck. After all, slipping easily through the air means better fuel economy.
When parked up, the bunks in the sleeper take full advantage of the wide cab and are 2020mm long and just over 762mm wide. Curtains and roller blinds can turn day into night for a driver on a sleep break and the addition of the Vesa air conditioning will provide a comfortable environment conducive to proper rest. The main truck air conditioning has full climate control and relatively large vents for a comfortable ride. What’s more, in cabin lighting is extensive with four-swivel style map lights located at the base of the storage section located above the windscreen.
Without being able to give a final judgement, our first drive has shown that the new Cursor II does indeed have a lot of potential, especially in the Stralis body. Back in Brisbane, the Iveco team seemed extremely confident that the revisions have more than addressed the engine’s shortcomings, and our first impression is positive. However, only a fully laden road test will help evaluate whether or not the new Cursor can really live up to the hype.