It’s brand new with just 1,070km on the clock when we take over the MAN TGS in Wyong on the NSW Central Coast to return it to Brisbane via the coast highway. Everything is expected to be tight, with no body squeaks or rattles, and we are also surmising that the engine will ‘loosen up’ once it’s well and truly run in. We are hooked up to the company’s own set of Vawdrey Titeliners, which are ballasted with a well-travelled load of concrete blocks to a realistic GVM of 58 tonnes for our road test.
As soon as we hit the road, we realise that the TipMatic 12-speed AMT transmission, supplied by ZF, is able to take full advantage of the MAN’s torque delivery. And with a gross of 58 tonnes for this trip, it is even smart enough to skip a gear on the up-changes when accelerating away from a standstill, which should contribute to the unit’s fuel economy.
The occasional manual override is achieved using the shift wand on the right-hand side of the steering column. It comes in handy when attacking the first incline: By toggling back two gears to keep the momentum steady, we manage to keep fuel usage low. Similarly, up-shifting early towards the apex of a hill keeps the tacho in the green zone by grabbing the higher gear a few seconds earlier than if left to the electronics.
What we’ll later realise is that the transmission has a crawl mode for first and reverse gears that slips the clutch more than usual to permit precise low speed control to enable smooth docking or trailer coupling. In this mode, even if the driver pushes a little too hard on the throttle, the truck will not lurch and instead moves smoothly from the standstill.
Cruising down the highway, we reflect on the MAN’s impressive spec. The front suspension is handled by 8,000kg rated parabolic springs and shocks, with a very effective stabiliser bar that takes care of body roll without adding any harshness to the ride. At the rear, MAN’s eight-bag electronically controlled air suspension (ECAS) can be adjusted by the remote control pad located beside the driver’s seat and is rated at 11,500kg per axle.
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