Friday 4 March 2011
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz Axor 3240 8x4 Rigid and tipper may indeed be well placed as the purveyor of a more positive economic future.
There is ever such a slight sense of optimism in the construction industry at present. Hard hats are appearing on building sites and polished up rigger boots are starting to get dirty again. Is this just a blip, or is it a more encouraging sign? Perhaps when companies start buying new kit that will provide a more positive indication.
For instance, sales in the multi-axle market and construction industry vehicles in general were the first to be hit when the economy slowed down. On that basis, if sales start to pick up, that might indicate a sense of returning confidence. Merc’s Axor might therefore be well placed to win itself new friends as Matthew Eisenegger finds out.
Although Merc already has the Actros multi-wheeler, it could be regarded as being better suited to more arduous use, whereas the Axor offers better payload capabilities.
The Axor eight wheeler is a lighter weight, high payload multi-axle rigid, that would be used on partially made site-roads rather than in prop-shaft deep mud. In general this type of vehicle will be used for the delivery of material to a site rather than the collection of rubble from a site.
The 3240 test tipper was powered by the 12 litre OM457LA six cylinder engine with 401 hp and 2000 Nm of torque at 1100 rpm. It put its power down through the Mercedes-Benz 9 speed, range-change, gearbox with the trusted airgate ‘slapshift’. It also came complete with a Wilcox Wilcolite aluminium aggregate tipping body with HYVA front end gear and Dawbarn ‘hydroclear’ sheeting system - with wander lead to make the driver’s life a little easier!
As is common with many such trucks these days, swinging steps on the cab helps to alleviate some of the corner damage that can be all too common on site work. Headlamps are also covered by very purposeful looking protective guards.
Taking things a stage further, the engineering department have specified a heavy duty snorkel type air intake, more in line with a Middle Eastern spec than European.
Additionally, the fact that the vertical exhaust is mounted to the nearside could make life a little quieter for the driver if he or she prefers the window down, and it will certainly be quieter when reversing. Another good point is the AdBlue tank is situated beside the fuel tank which again makes life a bit easier for the driver as all fuelling and top up issues can be dealt with at one side of the vehicle.
Three well positioned and wide steps ease the driver’s way in, and once on board the driver can relax in the full air suspended seat. Seat coverings are identical to the dark grey patterned velour as found in the Actros and Axor tractor units range. Room around the cab is very good with extra storage behind the seats. The dash layout is clear and well planned and the floor is covered with hard wearing rubberised matting.
Having collected the Axor from Mercedes Benz’s head office in Milton Keynes, the first task was to get a load on the back of the truck. So off to the local sand quarry for a couple of very large bucket-fulls of sharp sand. When loaded we went over the weigh bridge at just under the legal limit of 32000 kgs at 31690 kgs which was more than enough to let the Axor show what she was really made of.
The 9 speed gear box with air gate was very precise and just needed a gentle push or pull from the wrist to engage the correct cog. However, if you tried to fight it, life wasn’t made easy. Once I got the hang of, the shifts were as smooth as silk. Even a swift downshift on hills was made very easily.
The 401 horses were well on top of the game, as you would expect running at just under 32 tonnes, and road speeds were all good. The low-down torque came in at 1100 rpm and it highlighted the flexibility of this 6 cylinder motor.
On the long climbs, it was quite easy to test every single Newton Metre of torque by letting the needle drop out of the power band, before dropping a gear. Each time, engine response and recovery was pretty much excellent. The two stage engine-brake, operated from the steering column, worked a treat and used in conjunction with well planned braking from the service brakes gave great driving confidence.
Ride and handling were exemplary, and I hate to use the old cliche, but the Axor handled as if it was on rails!
The Axor 3240 is a very well mannered truck. The setup works very well, it’s comfortable and drives well. The spec is good too, with the Wilcolite body, including the sheeting system. With 20 litres of fuel on board, it had a kerb weight of 11,700 kgs which can’t be sniffed at.
When the market does start to correct itself Mercedes-Benz is in an ideal position to capitalise with the Axor. For those who prefer an automated shift, we can expect the Powershift gearbox in the Axor some time later this year.
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