Scania has persisted with its V8 engines for a long time and will continue to persist with them well into the future. The engineering involved in these big bangers is now part of the Scania tradition. The latest iteration of the top power engine from Scania is now available in three power ratings 500, 560 and 620 hp. Prime Mover tested the model likely to be the top selling of the three, the R 560, bringing it from Perth to Melbourne, firstly as a single trailer and then, from Madura, as a fully loaded B-double.
This truck, as tested, is the Scania model most likely to be regarded as the standard B-double prime mover. At 560hp it has enough grunt to handle over 60 tonnes but is not overpowered and in danger of using more fuel than is necessary. The cabin configuration with the Highline mid roof cabin and the extendable wide bunk will probably be the most common specification for this model.
The test route saw the truck heading east out of Perth before passing through Coolgardie and Norseman to head due east across the Nullarbor Plain. Into South Australia, the truck travelled down to Adelaide before taking the Dukes Highway and then the Western Highway into Melbourne.
This route is a lot longer than the normal test run Prime Mover uses to assess trucks, but the opportunity to experience the vastness of the Nullarbor and get a taste of life on the road in some of the most remote areas of Australia was too good to be missed. This also meant there was a longer period to become accustomed to the truck and the way it performs, enabling some deeper insights into its long-term effectiveness as a long-distance prime mover.
On the first leg of the trip, pulling just a single trailer, the task appeared effortless. There was no need to rush as the engine quietly handled the job at low rpm levels and with an almost imperceptible engine sound. 560hp is clearly way too much when pulling just a single trailer even at mass of over 40 tonnes.
Hitching up the second trailer and increasing the combination GCM up to over 60 tonnes did not seem to cause the truck any stress and it was only slower acceleration up to highway speed from stationary and when climbing grades, that made it more apparent there was a heavier mass being pulled by the prime mover.
Looking at the specification figures for this engine, producing its maximum of 560hp (412kW) at 1900rpm and putting out 2700Nm (1991 ft lb) of torque between 1000 and 1400 rpm, the Scania DC 1618 looks to have a performance level very similar to its competitors. However, there is a difference in the perceived quality of that power and torque when the engine is a V8. Maybe it is the combination of the power under the right foot with the sound, but the truck appears to be making good progress with very little effort.
Currently, Scania is only coupling its three pedal Opticruise transmission with the 16L engine. The newly developed two pedal version of the Opticruise is only available with the smaller engines but can be expected to come on stream alongside the big V8 in the future. Operators may prefer to keep the clutch option with the 16L engine, keeping the ability for the driver to control taking off with very heavy loads in difficult situations.
The third pedal is very rarely needed on longer hauls. In fact, it is very easy to forget that it is there when covering long distances in the outback where there are very few road junctions. The driver needs to remind themselves when they pull up to a halt after a long straight run to use the clutch as the truck comes to a stop. It is easy to forget it is there and stall the truck.
There are limitations to this design by Scania. Despite trying to come up with an EGR version of the V8 engines, the company has decided to continue with SCR as the method of achieving compliance with exhaust emission standards. This is understandable as the cooling implications of running such a big lump, just with EGR at ADR 80/03 would be enormous. The amount of extra cooling required would have been prohibitive and compromised the prime mover’s design in other ways.
Operators using this truck have to live with the compromises that come with SCR on a prime mover with limited chassis space. Yes, the SCR engine does run well and freely, the freedom created for engine programmers by using an aftertreatment to clean up nitrogen oxides means the point of combustion does not have to be retarded to keep combustion temperature low. This gives the engine mappers the opportunity to program the ECM for performance rather than low emissions.
The SCR system is bulky and does take up valuable real estate on the chassis rail. As a result, fuel capacity is limited to 970L of diesel and 75L of adblue. On a long run in remote areas, finding adblue in a service station can be problematic. Therefore, the outside storage on the truck was taken up by quite a few drums of adblue to make sure the truck made the distance. On this run, Prime Mover did not come across any adblue for sale after leaving Perth until reaching Bordertown, on the South Australia/Victoria border.
The climb out of Adelaide heading for Melbourne, through the Adelaide Hills, is a true test of a fully loaded truck. The initial climb is long and hard, followed by a series of up and down grades, ideal for assessing both pulling power and engine retardation. The big V8 passed the test with flying colours, making good progress along this stretch of road and outperforming many similarly loaded trucks.
On the big climbs the truck never dropped below 35km/h, holding the speed in seventh gear at 1400rpm or in sixth gear at 1800rpm. The Opticruise gearbox was set to power mode in order to keep the rpm at gearchanging points relatively high but this driver never found it necessary to push through the detent and kick down the accelerator to stimulate even more aggressive changing. On reflection, the truck could have probably handled the climbs without dropping below seventh gear.
Most of the time when descending, it is possible to rely upon the overrun control which is coupled to the cruise control to bring in enough retardation to hold the truck back and not let it overrun. On the steeper down grades this retardation was not enough but as the truck begins to descend the driver simply pulls the retarder control to its maximum, fifth, position to get speed under control and then lower the retarder setting gradually to find the right speed. Most of the time the truck could happily descend in the second or third position and Opticruise would select the gear to suit the conditions.
There is enough control over what the truck is doing for a driver to achieve all of this climbing and descending without touching the foot pedals at any point. Once the driver has enough confidence in the gearchanging ability of the Opticruise and the retardation properties of the retarder, it is simply a matter of pulling the appropriate lever or pushing the appropriate switch as and when required.
As a cabin to live in for several days, this R Series does quite well despite its relatively limited size, when compared to some of its larger competitors. It is quite easy to move about inside the cab and the roll-out extendable bunk is large enough and comfortable enough. Storage is well set out and the under bunk refrigerator works well, keeping this driver well refreshed after long hard days on the road.
The cab suspension did get several workouts on this journey, especially on a stretch of the Dukes Highway near the SA/Victoria border. The condition of the road is appalling and a badly suspended cab could throw the driver around wildly. In this case, it was a shock to the driver but the cab suspension was smart enough to handle the situation without disturbing the contents of the cabin too severely.
Since the release of the last model, Scania has been working on sun visors. Outside of the cabin, above the windscreen is a smoked glass visor in which two driving lights have been set. These work well but the lights have to be carefully set to avoid unnecessary glare in the driver’s eye line at night. The internal visors above the windscreen have been improved and can control difficult sunlight most of the time. On the driver’s door there is a sun visor which is very effective in cutting down glare but it does not appear to be as robust as it may have to be, especially if the truck is driven by a wide variety of drivers.
All in all, looking at this truck after covering nearly 3500km, Scania has got a lot of things right with this model. In terms of specification it does sit squarely in the B-double prime mover requirements. The driveline is very impressive and going into hilly country at over 60 tonnes with bucketfuls of torque from the V8 is a great experience.
It is the size limitations, due to it being designed originally for the European market, which has always been an issue for Scania buyers. The changes made to the R Series have mitigated these issues as much as is possible. If 1000L is enough fuel capacity and the driver is not expecting an extremely roomy walkabout cab then this truck does tick just about all the boxes.