Features, Test Drive

Test driving an Iveco S-Way down the bumpy road to Geelong


A while back Big Rigs was invited to jump aboard the new Iveco S-Way range of trucks and take them for a spin around the AARC test facility at Anglesea, Victoria.

I walked away from that day mightily impressed with the trucks and what they offer in terms of ride, noise suppression, lack of vibration and harshness, and in the way they steered.

Of course, the AARC track is a magic carpet ride compared to the real world. In my neck of the woods the ‘sealed’ roads I have to traverse every day are abysmal.

Since the floods we experienced last year the holes they created have turned into moon-sized craters, and no-one seems to be doing anything about them.

I know our area is not alone, having done a recent test drive around the Sydney suburbs. This led me to wondering what the S-Way would be like on the moonscape we jokingly call roads.

Iveco must have been reading my thoughts because they rang and offered me a truck to take out into the real world.

Instead of pointing me to their Dandenong HQ, they sent me out to Altona North and PrixCar, who have just taken delivery of four S-Ways – their first toe in the water with Iveco in the prime mover space. PrixCar had taken delivery of several Iveco EuroCargo models prior to their S-Way order.

For those unaware of PrixCar – as was I – the company is one of the largest transport and vehicle processing companies in Australia. With over 1100 employees and offices in every state and major city, they offer a complete, end-to-end vehicle logistics service, from picking up at the docks to vehicle preparation to delivering to dealers nationwide.

To put their size into perspective, they have several hundred prime movers alone to move these cars and trucks and buses around. Then there’s all the attendant trailers – many of them designed in-house – and a fleet of smaller trucks to get the jobs done. Sound big? Well, that’s because, as I witnessed in person, it is.

The steer is confidence-inspiring and that makes for a supremely relaxed driving experience.

I’ve turned onto Kororoit Creek Rd and am greeted with the sight of cars and trucks of every persuasion as far as the eye can see. Needless to say, the security is tight, but I’m let in to meet up with PrixCar national fleet manager Goran Koviloski.

Koviloski leads me to possibly the coolest looking Iveco I’ve ever seen. Over a classy silver body with black striping to complement the black grill, are blue highlights to make the truck ‘pop’.

The ambient interior lighting is also blue to match. On a rooftop chrome bar sits a light bar and below this a PrixCar designed metal sunvisor. Moving down past the stone guard is a very classy bull bar, designed by Koviloski and the PrixCar team.

“There was limited availability for what we needed on the market at the time with the S-Way being fresh to market. We worked collaboratively with Iveco and Whitlock Bull Bars to produce this bull bar specifically for our trucks,” commented Koviloski.

The bull bar is adorned with yet another light bar and four Narva driving lights framed with a multitude of clearance lights. The overall effect is one brilliant looking truck – hooked up to an equally impressive trailer loaded with a couple of Iveco Daily vans (of course).

But this story is about the drive so I climb into the cab, sit in the leather appointed seat and re-familiarise myself with my surroundings.

There’s the indicator on the left and 5-stage retarder on the right, push buttons for D, N and R, and an unusual red steering wheel logo sewn into the carpet. Oh, right! Put your foot on that and you can adjust the steering wheel to your favoured position. Those Italians like to do some things differently. Like the mirror adjustment. Press a button below the adjuster and… which mirror am I adjusting? Look at the dashboard and it will tell you. Quirky to say the least!

Time to hit the road and a trip down past Geelong takes my fancy. ‘Hope I find plenty of ‘moon craters’ I think to myself. I didn’t have to travel far – about 300 metres I’d reckon. I could have driven around it but that wouldn’t be testing, would it?

Straight over/through/down and up it I go – and the S-Way took it in its stride. The front axle is on springs and the steering is not electric, so I’d expected some jarring back through the wheel, but not a bit of it. I wrote on the AARC drive how good the steer was in this truck and in the real world it’s still up there with the best.

Point this thing and that’s where she goes. You know exactly where the wheels are pointed and no pothole (of course I found hundreds) puts the truck off course. The steer is confidence-inspiring and that makes for a supremely relaxed driving experience.

Cruising down the Geelong Rd at 100 clicks on adaptive cruise – and why wouldn’t you? – and I’m thinking the wind noise is slightly more than I’d remembered. Staring me in the face is, of course that stone guard and sunvisor and therein lies the answer. I hasten to add that it was still minimal and I was able to talk to myself at completely normal levels.

Onto the 16-speed gearbox and the S-Way really shines. Motive power in this version is the top-of-the-range, latest iteration of the Cursor 13 litre with 550 Hp and 2500Nm. Now, there are more powerful (and bigger) donks out there but this motor, mated to this ‘box is nothing short of sublime.

The torque and power curves fit beautifully with the gear changes, which are as quick and smooth as any auto I’ve driven. 16 speeds gives an appropriate gear for any situation.

Yes, I’m only hauling a light load but I’ve tried a loaded B-double and that was equally impressive. I come to a particularly steep incline and I flick the RH gear lever down two notches to 14th. The changes are lightning quick, and the truck maintains its pace up the hill. As it begins to flatten out it moves smoothly up through 15th to top.

I’m only hauling a light load but I’ve tried a loaded B-double and that was equally impressive.

Then there’s the little things: The sun visors are excellent and with pull-out tabs on the outsides cover the entire screen. The side window shades are simple to use and effective. The Lane Departure Warning is noticeable but doesn’t scream and scare the hell out of you – as many others do – if you cross a line.

It rained a bit so I know the auto wipers work. So does the Auto Emergency Braking. Cruise control is very easy to use. The bunk is comfortable and the curtains wrap right around the cab. The Multi-Media Screen is a beaut. Intuitive to use, connects quickly to the phone and puts out a good sound through the multiple speakers. Beats the hell out of the one I had in the Mitsubishi Outlander hire car I recently had.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, I had a couple of blokes at truck stops come up and ask me about the truck and praise the way it looked. How often does that happen to an Iveco driver?

All too soon I’m back at PrixCar. As I’m handing the key back, a driver comes up to me and asks how I found it. I respond positively and he comments, “I’m driving the S-Way with one of our B-double carriers and I am loving it!”

Trucks mean different things to different people. Some people love their American trucks, others love the Euros and still others the Scandies. And there are people who love the Italian Job. Having driven the S-Way I could also easily have an Italian affair. Looking for a new truck? Put the S-Way on your shopping list. Can I take it to Brisbane Iveco?

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