The Green Mile

Scania’s new 540hp engine shows that 13 litres can deliver similar performance to many larger engines.

Scania’s 13 litre 500hp R and G cab models have been very successful since their Australian launch and the addition of this latest 540hp specification engine offers even more performance combined with impressive fuel economy.

The long stroke engine delivers 540hp (397kW) at 1800rpm which is an additional 40hp and 150Nm over the previous maximum output 13 litre Scania engine.

Significantly this six cylinder engine provides the same maximum torque characteristics of 2700Nm as the 520hp version of the 16 litre Scania V8.

The 13 litre’s maximum torque output is available between 1000 and 1300rpm.

In applications where front axle loadings are critical the in-line six cylinder engine saves around 300kg over the front axle compared with the 520hp version of the Scania V8.

This latest Euro 6 engine has a fixed geometry turbocharger fitted with a waste gate and has ball bearings supporting its shaft and uses its own spin-on oil filter to extend component life.

Different inlet and exhaust manifolds and a revised turbo housing enable a faster engine response due to the turbo’s improved utilisation of the pulse energy inherent in the engine to achieve quicker spool-up times. Internally, the pistons, rings and cylinder bores are treated with friction reducing coatings to minimise drag and free up power and maximise fuel efficiency.

To achieve its Euro 6 emission rating the Scania uses a Supplementary Catalytic Reduction system in conjunction with a Diesel Particulate Filter.

We haven’t performed an exhaust gas analysis but a quick peek at the inside of the exhaust outlet reveals an almost surgical cleanliness despite this being a truck which has already covered almost 36,000 kilometres.

The transmission is the 12-speed overdrive Opticruise equipped with an additional two crawler gears.

The ratio of the rear axles is 3.42:1 which encourages the transmission control software to maintain higher gears as much as practicable in order to deliver maximised fuel efficiency.

On the northbound leg of our journey out of Sydney we are not concerned with fuel burn, instead we are intent on putting the Scania through its paces which involves a driving style not necessarily conducive to fuel efficiency such as ‘driving on the throttle’ instead of maximising the time spent using the truck’s intelligent cruise control.

However, on the return leg we consciously toggle the cruise buttons on the lower left of the steering wheel to enable the truck to do what it does best at minimising fuel consumption.

The Sydney to Newcastle and return route involves a number of hills with some long grades as well as some challenging shorter grades on each side of the Hawkesbury River, and again on each side of its tributary Mooney Mooney creek.

On the return leg we are baulked by a couple of fools with a mutual death wish riding pillion on a tiny capacity ‘postie’ bike taking up the left hand lane on the climb up from the Mooney Mooney Creek bridge towards Calga. Heavy traffic holds us in the left lane losing valuable momentum until we can safely overtake.

The negative effect on fuel efficiency by the interrupted momentum which required the Opticruise to drop a number of gears, was thankfully countered later in the trip as we roll through the recently opened Northconnex tunnel which avoids the hills, traffic lights and multiple speed zones which afflicted the notorious Pennant Hills Road link between the M2 Motorway and the Pacific Motorway.

Entering the nine kilometre long south bound tunnel at 80 km/h the Scania is actually able to maintain that speed in eco-roll mode until the last few hundred metres where the tunnel rises to re-join the surface, the resulting fuel saving becoming a generous offset against the toll charge.

The improvement in overall fuel consumption, brought about by the combination of the driveline enhancements, is claimed by Scania to be up to 2.5 per cent.

The weighbridge ticket for our test B-double combination shows we are grossing 58.46 tonnes and at the end of the 356.5 kilometre round trip it takes 174.5 litres of diesel to top off the tanks.

A few moments with a calculator computes the fuel consumption to be 2.1 km/l at an average speed of 71 km/h, with that result confirmed by the electronics on the dash.

The 540’s revised cooling package incorporates a ‘smart’ coolant pump which contributes to fuel savings due to its reduced engagement during low load cycles.
Similarly, the power steering pump also undergoes reduced engagement when demand is low, providing an additional incremental contribution to fuel efficiency by reducing the amount of power required to drive it.

The test vehicle features the spacious and well-appointed Scania R cab and the 540 spec engine is also available in the mid-size G cabs and as a special order for Scania S cabs.

In line with the rest of Scania’s New Truck Generation vehicles, the R 540 has a high level of active and passive safety systems fitted as standard equipment including side curtain roll-over protection airbags.

The list of standard safety features is impressive and includes driver and passenger seat-belt pre-tensioners, driver’s airbag, Adaptive Cruise Control, Advanced Emergency Braking and Lane Departure Warning.

In recognition that getting down a hill is as important as climbing it, the Scania has a number of braking features which operate seamlessly with the Opticruise’s functions including Eco-roll which calculates which is the most fuel efficient: whether to roll down hills with the driveline disconnected and the engine idling, or to use engine braking with the fuel supply switched off.

The exhaust/engine brake provides 242kW (325hp) of holdback at 2,400 rpm and is complemented by the Scania R 3500 Retarder in controlling downhill speed.

Initiated by the driver simply selecting the chosen speed and tapping the brake pedal, the combined effects of the Scania Retarder, the Opticruise transmission, the exhaust brake and the conventional disc brake system all working seamlessly in conjunction with the Adaptive Cruise Control, enable the vehicle to maintain a stable speed regardless of the downhill grade.

Should even more braking power be necessary, Scania Opticruise changes down to increase engine speed with a resulting increase in exhaust brake power. The brake blending feature maximises the amount of retarder braking and therefore minimises wear on the wheel brakes.

The Retarder itself operates silently and even the activation of the engine/exhaust brakes makes very little difference to the already low noise levels inside and outside the cab.

Manual activation of the non-wheel brake systems is achieved using the control stalk mounted on the right hand side of the steering column. This multi-function stalk also provides the driver’s control of the Opticruise transmission.

By pressurising fluid, the Retarder converts kinetic energy to heat, which is dissipated through the cooling system. The transmission has its own oil cooler to counter any heat soak coming from the attached retarder mechanism.

The operation of the computer controlled viscous hub engine fan serves to keep the entire driveline package within the correct temperature parameters in addition to its own modest contribution of reducing engine speed by providing additional engine load.

The Scania’s hill hold braking function now holds truck and prevents roll-back until the accelerator is pressed, not just the three seconds after brake pedal is release on previous models.

The 540 has been in the global Scania line-up for some time so arrives here as a proven package with the reliability of any ‘new’ components already established. In Europe the 540 combined with the Scania S Series cab has excelled in two prestigious comparison tests taking place in Germany during October 2020.

The European Truck Challenge and the 1,000 Puntke Test (1,000 Point Test) address cab-related qualities such as the driver environment, sleeping comfort and noise levels, as well as other aspects such as road handling, gear shifting and serviceability.

The trucks are also driven more than 300 km on different types of public roads, while fitted with calibrated fuel-measurement equipment to accurately confirm the true fuel consumption.

Horsepower ratings can be fudged as easily as changing the numerals of the shiny badges on the side or front of the cab. But you can’t fool torque.

The 13 litre Scania engine (actually 12.7 litres displacement) can be rated down as low as 370hp.

Driving this 540hp version we have to remind ourselves that it’s ‘just’ a 13 litre as we don’t get passed by any other loaded trucks during the trip despite the grades we tackle.

The power and torque expected from a larger engine combined with the fuel requirements of a 13 litre makes a sensible equation for both drivers and owners.