Test Drive: Scania R560

The appeal of 700+ horsepower is undeniable. Yet while Swedish truck manufacturer, Scania, holds the Australian championship belt in the horsepower race, practicality dictates that the 620, 560 and 500hp-rated engines power most of the R Series Scania prime movers operating on Australian roads.

Scania now remains alone in the provision of high horsepower V8 diesel engines for road applications, following Mercedes-Benz’s move to the ‘Detroit-family’ based in-line six engines and MAN’s development of its 15.2-litre overhead cam six-cylinder. Scania has been upfront in its commitment to the V8 and it is the higher horsepower specification for the upcoming S series (see breakout box).

The rationale of sticking with the V8 makes sense: it’s a proven piece of engineering that delivers reliability and economy, and it is the platform for much of Scania’s off-road applications, including marine and electricity generation where much higher power ratings can be achieved.

In the current R series Scanias, maximum power is produced at 1,800rpm and the peak torque levels – 2,500Nm from the 500, 2,700Nm from the 560 and 3,000Nm from the 620 – are available from 1,000rpm through to 1,400rpm. The application of those copious amounts of torque is through the overdrive 14-speed Opticruise automated manual transmission (AMT), which is a standout feature of the current Scanias.

This transmission has been refined to the point that it seems to be in the correct gear in any circumstance. Even purposely attempting to confuse it by overriding the electronics with inappropriate input through the control lever or the accelerator pedal is likened to playing chess with a computer – the artificial intelligence wins every time. However, in the rare instances when it is worthwhile selecting manual mode, it can be readily achieved by a twist of the stalk mounted on the steering column.

The Scania isn’t just all about forward momentum, and the multi-faceted braking system involves more than just the disc brakes fitted to each corner. When braking is required on a decline, the Opticruise changes down to increase engine speed, with a resulting increase in the effectiveness of the exhaust brake. The retarder and the wheel brakes work in conjunction to maintain a stable speed during these down changes when the back pressure on the exhaust brake is released in mid-shift. This also assists in achieving quicker shifts as the road speed and engine speed are almost seamlessly matched.
The Scania retarder works with the rest of the brake system and delivers a driver-friendly situation that reduces stress, improves efficiency and doesn’t take very long to master. The Scania Retarder interacts with the cruise control, exhaust brake and the service brakes to provide automatic downhill speed control at the press of a button or a touch on the brake pedal. The retarder can also be controlled manually with the lever on the steering column.

When the retarder is set to work automatically with the exhaust brake and the wheel brakes, service brake applications are reduced by up to
75 per cent and brake wear is minimised. One operator has told Prime Mover that he has 75 per cent wear left on his brake pads after travelling more than 700,000km. The in-dash driver support system can be utilised to measure brake pedal applications and with some concise advice from a Scania expert, even a driver with little experience of the system can regularly score a braking result of 100 per cent, indicating that everything other than the service brakes is doing most of the speed control.

If all of that braking power weren’t enough, the Advanced Emergency Braking (AEB) system has been standard equipment on Australian Scania P, G and R models with 440hp or more since early in 2016 (see breakout box). The AEB system is a component of an integrated package that also includes Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control. AEB works with the radar and camera functions of those two systems to provide autonomous emergency braking warnings leading up to full intervention to prevent two moving vehicles colliding or for the Scania to run into stationary traffic.

Active at speeds over 15km/h, the AEB system is able to slow the truck or even bring it to a full stop if the driver fails to respond to the warnings of situations that may lead to a collision. When activated, the AEB provides three stages of protection. Initially, when the system detects the possibility of a collision with a vehicle in front, it will activate a warning light on the dash and sound an alarm buzzer. If the driver does not react, and the collision risk remains, the AEB begins to gently apply the brake system. If there is still no response the AEB applies the brakes with full force in order to avoid an impact.
The driver can interrupt the warnings or the braking by pressing the AEB switch on the dash, or by applying the brake pedal. Alternatively, if the driver judges that it is safer to take positive action, they can apply the accelerator pedal and change steering direction.
Standard fuel tanks have a combined capacity of 1,030 litres, with the 710 litre kerb side tank sporting a cunning kick forward to maximise use of space between steer and front drive axles – critical for the Australian interstate B-double applications.

Also critical for the long haul, the Scania R cab is comfortable in all aspects, from the bunk mattress to the premium quality suspended driver’s seat. The driver’s seat is fitted with a fold down microphone, similar to those used by coach drivers, that delivers crystal clear voice sound to the listener on the other end of the Bluetooth connected phone. A fridge/freezer is located under the bunk, providing ready access for the driver and passenger. Modern truck cabs are expected to have various storage facilities and the Scania R doesn’t disappoint. In addition to the expected cabinets and bins, there is a slide out drawer for paperwork and logbook and a fold out table on the passenger side similar to an airliner’s tray table.

It shouldn’t be a factor in purchasing decisions, but the subtle throb of the V8 when it’s under load is very pleasing to the Australian ear, yet the cab is so well insulated that it is necessary to lower the driver’s electric window to fully appreciate the V8’s symphony.

Fast Fact
Scania has invested more than $3 billion in its next generation S model, which the Swedish company released in Europe late last year and teased at the Brisbane Truck Show in May this year. However, the tight-lipped company has yet to reveal an Australian launch date.

Fast Fact
Fitting Advanced Emergency Braking (AEB) systems in Australia meant Scania had to work with local suppliers to develop new designs for bull bars that are compatible with the functions of the radar system.

Fast Fact
Scania is a strong promoter of its repair and maintenance contracts and it is in its best interests to make servicing as efficient as possible, which also benefits owners who organise their own servicing.  To do so, factors such as easy access to vital components are built into the overall design and even simple features such as clip on mudguard sections can contribute to less time spent in the workshop.


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