Features

Rubber hits the road with new Mercedes-Benz Actros

Driver Diego Manzo is one of those lucky truckies whose boss lets him choose the truck he drives. He’s stoked his boss bought a new generation Mercedes-Benz Actros and that he even ticked the box for the optional MirrorCam feature.

Manzo, who works for D and K Scott, delivers dump truck and loader tyres from Port Botany to mines in the Hunter Valley. The truck tows a custom trailer set developed for the monster tyres that measure up to 4.2 metres tall and 2 metres wide. 

These aren’t any old tyres, no Bob Jane All Rounders here. They feature GPS sensors that are used to monitor exactly how many times they turn; like a kind of tyre odometer.

They also feature a soft interior layer that goes hard, and effectively seals a hole, when exposed to the atmosphere.

They are not cheap either and many of the big ones each cost more than a Ford Ranger Wildtrack. Still when you consider the need for absolute maximum productivity on a busy mine site, it makes sense to use the best possible gear.

The Actros also has a decent amount of technology, which is designed to maximize efficiency, boost safety and make life easier for the driver.

The new Actros features two new iPad-style display screens on the dashboard, replacing the centre screen and speedo and tacho cluster, which Mercedes-Benz calls the Multimedia Cockpit. They are super-crisp and look very similar to the type of screen you get in fancy prestige cars that have the same big badge on the nose.

But the Mercedes-Benz truck is missing something that all Mercedes-Benz cars have. Mirrors.

The D and K Scott Actros is one of the first on the road with the MirrorCam system, which replaces big side-mounted mirrors with small camera wings and displays that mount inside the cab on the A-pillars.

MirrorCam has been designed to remove a huge blindspot in the driver’s view and can also reduce noise and save fuel.

Mercedes-Benz understands that a change like this will be welcomed by some and shunned by others, so it is keen to stress that the MirrorCam system is entirely optional.

Manzo, 47, is a big fan of MirrorCam, especially when backing into the yard on an angle.

“I have been driving a B-Double driver since the 1990s when you turn them when backing you lose sight of the back of the trailer,” he said.

“I get better visibility to the back of the rear trailer with MirrorCam because I always have sight of it when I am backing it in. I reckon this is great,” he says.

Manzo said it took him a little while to get used to the new system, but will be ordering in them on the next Benzes they buy.

Manzo says the digital mirrors are also better in bad weather conditions: “They don’t fog up and the rain doesn’t sit on them,” he says.

Safety gear that comes standard with the Actros includes the radar system that can automatically brake in an emergency and even detect and fully brake for pedestrians as well as lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.

Manzo’s boss and D and K Scott Transport Managing Director, Darren Scott, had safety on his mind when he purchased the truck.

“We are going out to the mines, where safety is paramount, so it is especially important that we have the safest equipment available,” Scott said.

“Systems like the Autonomous Emergency Braking are very important and the additional visibility provided by the MirrorCam system is also of great value.”

Scott adds that his company is committed to using the best gear available.

“We want to be at the front of the pack when it comes to technology,” he said.

D and K Scott Transport introduced a 530hp 13-litre Actros to its fleet two years ago, but decided to go for the 580hp 16-litre six-cylinder this time around.

This is the big banger of the range, which is essentially the same as the DD16 straight-six in the new Freightiner Cascadia.

It is an advanced engine, with variable high-pressure injection, asymmetrical turbo and turbo compounding for that extra pull under load.

The engine works with a 12-speed automated manual transmission.

The new Actros also uses the fuel-saving Predictive Powertrain Control system, which would have been the stuff of science fiction a few decades back.

It uses topographical data and GPS to help the transmission pick the right gear for the terrain.

What this means, is that the truck could decide to hold onto gear, rather than drop down a gear, just before the crest of the hill.

It also tells the truck exactly when it can flick into the coasting mode for optimum fuel saving, without the truck exceeding the speed limit.

Scott always adds a bit of bling to the D and K Scott trucks. They don’t go over the top, but add just enough stainless steel, a driving light bar at the top of the cab, a custom sun-visor with built-in LED lights and a tough bull-bar to make this rig stand out in a crowd.

The upgrades aren’t limited to the exterior, with Darren ticking the box for the premium sound system with factory sub-woofer.

Manzo is sure glad he did and spends a lot of his drive tome listening to music and podcasts. He and says the sound system and quietness of the truck mean that phone calls on the road are a breeze.

“It is just like having a hands-free phone conversion in a car; it is that clear,” Manzo said.

He appreciates the sound system, the touchscreen controls, the automated transmission and the comfortable ride of the Actros, which runs at around 60 tonnes all up.

“It’s so comfortable that I don’t get tired after driving it,” he said.

“The truck does a lot of the work itself.”

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