Friday 9 November 2012
IVECO hosted a very select driving event at the Millbrook proving grounds in Bedford recently and Matthew Eisenegger get an invitation to drive the Strator.
Iveco are certainly not new to the manufacturing of ‘normal control’ vehicles as they marketed the bonneted Powerstar in Australia. However, this new Strator model is not a mainline-production truck, it is actually built under licence from Iveco by the Charles Feijts Groep (CFG) who are themselves a long established Iveco main dealer in the Netherlands.
Available in as many configurations as you would care to mention the operator can choose a rigid as a 4x2, 6x2, 6x2 rear steer or a 6x4, with a selection of wheelbases. There is also a choice of tractors in 4x2 configuration with hub reduction axles, 6x2 midlift, 6x2 twin steer or a 6x4.
And it doesn’t stop there. The operator has a choice of Stralis-derived cabs which includes the ADN Active Day, aimed at the short haul distribution sector, the ATN Active Time for medium to long haul operation and the ASN Active Space with either low or high roof for the long haul and international use.
However, the Euro-5 Cursor engines and EuroTronic automated transmissions are standard equipment. Even so, there are options here too. The Cursor comes with a choice of either the Cursor 10 rated at either 420 or 450 hp, or the larger Cursor 13 rated at either 500 or 560 hp.
For any owner driver or fleet which doesn’t use the traditional 13.6 metre trailer set up, and can come in on the maximum length with a bonneted truck, the Strator offers a great flagship solution. It looks good and is just a bit different to everything else on the roads.
Operationally there should be no difference in costs as the Strator uses all major components from the Stralis. The one burning question is what does it drive like? Well I can tell you.
Climbing on board was straight forward. The re-engineered steps were very wide and easy to negotiate. The cab interior is identical to the Stralis with the only noticeable addition being a TV monitor that displays a forward view from a bumper mounted camera.
Looking out the windscreen, the bonnet slopes away. And like all bonneted trucks I’ve experienced, it does take a little time to get used to them as corners are totally obscured from view and the front bumper camera is an essential addition. The driver could lose an entire car in the blind spot.
However with a little practice you do get used to driving it. The test vehicle was powered by the Cursor 10 and rated at 450 hp and the rig was freighted up to around 42 tonnes.
The route around Millbrook allowed two fast laps on the 2 mile speedbowl then on to the hill track for more general driving impressions. The first thing I noticed was just how quiet the Strator is. With the engine stuck way out in front, it all seemed a bit remote and far away.
General ride and handling were very good and although on the tight corners and extremely hilly sections we weren’t carrying a lot of road speed the Cursor 10 engine did exceptionally well.
Having driven it, I would imagine any business prepared to take the plunge and buy one, certainly in the UK, would opt for the 560 engine and the high roof Active Space cab.
On Iveco’s own admission the market for this type of vehicle is not massive, but it does demonstrate the company’s ability to read market requirements and respond with a viable and well thought out solution.
From a UK perspective, there is a definite requirement for either something different or making the vehicle personal to the driver. You only have to visit any one of the Truckfest events around the country to see that the practice of personalising vehicles is far from dead.
So with that in mind, it is expected that Iveco will put a number of Strators on to the UK roads, so keep your eyes open.
After my short road trip, I proved one thing. It’s not just a show piece, this can cut the mustard in the haulage business while making a statement on the style front.
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