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Mercedes-Benz Actros Driveline 2011 Truck Review

We have a look at the new Mercedes-Benz Actros Driveline and realise it's a bit like looking into the future of transport.  With it's unique features and innovative design, the future certainly looks bright.

At this stage perhaps its best to state, or explain, how the new Actros will integrate and “live” alongside the current Mercedes-Benz Axor and Actros as this will certainly be the case for the next couple of years. Firstly Axor will not survive the Euro VI emissions requirement so the new Actros will step in with an “entry level” model called the “ClassicSpace”.

To say the range is comprehensive is a little of an understatement, there are four roof shapes, two cab widths, two floor variants with the GigaSpace at the top of the range to the previously mentioned “Classic Space”, they appeared to have covered all the angles.

Secondly, the current Actros will continue to be manufactured and sold until the eventual introduction of Euro VI in January 2014, and for the United Kingdom it will also be a little longer before we see the New Actros on our roads as the right hand drive models will take approximately six months longer to make their way to the production line.

At the heart of the new Actros is a modular system conceived specifically for long-distance transport: seven cabs, five of which have a flat floor; innovative interior ideas such as the separation of the working and living areas. although the UK will not be seeing the SoloStar cab configuration due to engineering issues in the conversion to right hand drive.

Engine / Driveline

All four initial engine powers are Euro V compliant and the 480bhp is already Euro VI compatible,  they are derived from a new family of six-cylinder in-line engines designated OM 471 developing 310 kW (421 hp) to 375 kW (510 hp) with a torque of 2100 to 2500 Nm.

Four valves per cylinder control the two overhead "composite" or "assembled" camshafts - a first for engines of this size.  A new “ X-PULSE” pressure booster system is employed in the common rail and this allows the normal 900 bar pressure in the rail to be boosted to up to 2100 bar in the injectors and can be fully varied on the engine map. Charging is performed courtesy of a turbocharger with an asymmetric turbine housing, which improves response. The three stage engine brake, a charged decompression brake, is designed to deliver maximum efficiency using braking power of over 500bhp.

For Euro VI, Mercedes-Benz has developed a combination of SCR technology with AdBlue insertion, cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and a particulate filter for the new BlueEfficiency Power engine generation in the new Actros, similar to those used in the US with Freightliner for EPA07 compliance and Fuso in Japan. Having said that they are keen to stress the configuration here is adapted specifically to comply with European emissions legislation, while the particulate filter, including its regeneration strategy, is also a special European development.

The differences between the optionally available Euro V versions and the standard Euro VI variant include the omission of the particulate filter, a reduced recirculation rate in the EGR system and a smaller EGR cooler. There are also EEV variants in the line-up based on the Euro V version and available at 310 kW (421 hp), 330 kW (449 hp) or 375 kW (510 hp).

All the engines are matched to a new version of Powershift fully automated transmission which is on its third generation and Daimler say it offers even faster and more precise response thanks to their highly sensitive shift sensors. New features include a crawler function in place of the previous manoeuvring mode allowing Actros to be driven at walking pace with a gear engaged but without the need to press the accelerator.

Chassis

To highlight the key points on the chassis / safety features the marketing team at Mercedes-Benz have come up with a “Guardian angel” analogy, and judging by it needing thirteen guardian angels to would appear it needs a lot of looking after!

They are split into three main groups loosely based around braking, safety and driver assistance and although we have touched on the engine braking aspect already, Actros also features Electronic Brake assistance, High performance braking system and a water retarder rather than oil filled helping to save weight whilst retaining the retardation effect.

Driver assistance comes in the form of four very handy and useful, some would say essential, features such as proximity control, rain and light sensors, a fifth-wheel coupling sensor system and finally mirror with manoeuvring function. Of course most of these will be found under the option list but in my view they should become mandatory but don’t start me on all that just now!

It’s also worth mentioning the Proximity Control Assist system with stop-and-go function automatically controls starting and stopping in traffic jams which I think is unique in European trucks.

Many of the above could be pigeon holed under the heading safety as are my final group of handy little features such as tyre pressure monitoring, Roll-Control Assist, Active Brake Assist in its second generation,  Lane Keeping Assist,  and finally Stability Control Assist

Total Life Costs

As I said in the introduction, new Actros is the first and to date only truck which has been developed to comply with the Euro VI emissions standard and as such inevitably fuel consumption becomes an issue. The figures in the optional Euro V variant is around six percent lower than for the predecessor model with the Euro VI version the figure is around three percent lower, combined with a reduction in AdBlue consumption of around 40 percent

The service intervals have now been extended to up to 150,000 kilometres, the precise figure depending on the vehicle type and its usage profile which could mean in some long-distance transport fleets just one annual maintenance may be required ( Excluding PMI’s etc). The generally maintenance-free particulate filter needs to be changed after 450,000 km and subsequently cleaned after every 300,000 km, finally the service interval for the air filter is likewise 300,000 km.

Daimler promotes its own in-house telematics system, FleetBoard, and according to their team as well as the potential fuel savings from the OM471 engine using their system has proven subsequent changes in driver behaviour offering potential of 5 to 15% less fuel consumption.

Summary

The New Actros is a glimpse into the future of road transport operation for the foreseeable future incorporating many innovative and unique features and designs. The obvious benefits to both driver and operator mean it should be a hit with both – we just can’t wait to try it!