Test Drive

New Mack Anthem on song

It has taken a few years, but finally the new Mack Anthem has arrived in Australia, but the pandemic has meant it will not be launched with all the traditional razzamatazz.

Instead, the truck is now out and available in Mack dealerships, and there will be a cavalcade of the new models touring Australia in the coming months.

The first thing to be said is that having seen the photographs of the truck when it was launched originally in the US, it did look a little strange, like a transformers truck, with its angular panels and bonnet. In fact, when actually meeting the truck in the metal, it looks much better than it does online.

The introduction of the Anthem is a big step for the brand, bringing Mack into the modern world. It is with these models that the latest electronic architecture, which enables all of the state-of-the-art safety equipment, telematics and other technologies to be integrated into the truck itself.

The new design is all about two items: one is the bonnet and wings in front of the A-pillar, and the second are the new sleeper cab options.

The sleepers are being introduced across the Mack range, so that not only will the new Anthem have an integrated sleeper available, but also the new Trident and new Super-Liner will also come with the option of the new integrated sleeper.

The extra overhead space in the stand-up sleeper allows for additional storage in the driver’s compartment.

Climbing up into the cabin, the truck does have that familiar Mack feel to it. The interior has been changed to a certain extent, with an all-new dashboard and new door interior design.

The first thing the driver will notice when sitting in the driver seat is the strange shape steering wheel, which now has a flat section at its base, said, by Mack, to have been designed to enable driver access in an out of the cabin to be made a little easier.

This steering wheel is the only option available on the Anthem, it includes a driver’s airbag and all of the switches for items like cruise control, radio and phone.

The steering column stalks, engine brake and information screen control on the right, with wipers and indicators on the left, are a new design altogether and unlike any other column controls seen before.

The rest of the dashboard layout will be quite familiar to current Mack drivers, but the overall design is a lot more angular with many straight lines and right angles.

Otherwise, most of the switches and controls are in familiar places, but the new LCD screen in the middle of the dash, has a new design and provides the driver with much more information, in a useful format.

Start up the engine, and the driver gets the familiar 13-litre MP8 sound. The horsepower limit on this engine has been raised to 535 hp, whereas in its predecessor, the Granite, it would only go up to 500hp.

This brings the new Anthem into the sector of the market where trucks can’t handle higher tonnage on a more regular basis than they could in the past.

In many ways, for the existing Mack driver, the new cabin will have plenty about it which is familiar, but under the skin has a lot more to offer to the driver and operator.

This sophistication is at the same level as the modern European prime movers which are making waves in the market.

This latest design has enough of the traditional Mack design and values included in its design to please the traditional but also improved capabilities to allow it to function in the most modern fleets in Australia.

The Sleeper

A 36-inch integrated stand-up sleeper cab is now an option for Anthem, Trident and Super-Liner models. The new cab features 1.8 metres of headroom in the cockpit and 2.1 metres of headroom in the sleeper compartment.

The extra overhead space allows for additional storage in the driver’s compartment; while in the bunk, above the standard inner-spring mattress features sturdy overhead storage cupboards. LED courtesy lighting, 12-volt power outlets as well as USB charging ports are also featured in the new sleeper cab.

There’s also the option of a slide out under-bunk fridge. Exterior locker boxes can also be accessed from the inside of the truck by lifting the bed.

Interior

A new interior design brings large, easy to read analogue gauges to bear along with tough, well-placed laser etched rocker switches. The mDrive transmission controls remain on the dash panel, however controlling the Powerleash engine brake is now done via a steering column mounted multi-function stalk.

A 5-inch colour digital Co-Pilot display makes navigating various digital menus and functions a breeze while on the move. The integration of the Bendix safety system now means that much of the system’s functionality can be accessed via the Co-Pilot display.

Transmissions

The mDrive automated manual transmission get some extra low gearing with the arrival of the mDrive HD and mDrive XHD transmissions. By providing options of deep reduction gearing these transmissions offer safer heavy hauling at high gross weights with excellent start ability/gradeability, eliminating the need for auxiliary transmissions.

The 13-speed mDrive HD offers a single reduction gear that not only helps for heavy lift offs, it also allows fuel conscious highway operators to specify taller final drive ratios to maximise fuel efficiency. The 14-speed mDrive XHD offers heavy haulage operators safe and flexible handling of big loads with peace of mind.

These new mDrive transmissions also bring new features such as a “Rock Free” mode to allow the driver to rock the truck back and forwards easily if needing to gain traction off-road. A “Power Launch” function for off-road low-traction starts as well as Heavy-Duty and Maxi-Duty transmission modes for high GCM operation.

Both transmissions are available behind both the 13 litre MP8 and 16 litre MP10 engines.

Connectivity

New electrical architecture across the range not only provides a smarter truck it’s also more connected, said Mack. Optional Predictive Cruise control allow the truck to record topographic data to optimise engine and transmission performance and, consequently, save fuel.

Safety

An integrated Bendix Wingman Fusion active safety system is standard equipment in the new Mack Anthem providing adaptive cruise control, blind spot alerts, autonomous braking and roll stability.

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