It all happened so quickly I climbed up the 4 steps to heaven and it was all over in a flash……….the test drive that is! All I can say about the whole couple of hours is; Very Very Impressed….Amazing….Car Class Comfort….actually I would bet if you blind fold some one they wouldn’t be able to tell the car from the truck, the comfort was very lounge like. For those who don’t believe, I drove a well know Dutch truck to Orwell Trucks and it was all to easy to note the new bigger seats on the New Actros and with the 2 large padded arm rests, I was about ready for a doze never mind a test drive!
On arrival when you first see the New Actros you really are greeted by that huge grill, which actually gets more attractive when you see it in the flesh. I think it’s fair to say it’s not as huge as you think it is looking at it in the magazines. Open the door and there are 4 steps up into the cab, which for some is bizarrely a bit of a problem, but until you try it, you don’t realize how little a problem it is. If your planning of spending all day getting in and out the cab then you will probably build your leg muscles fairly rapidly, but it really isn’t an issue. Into the cab, close the door and you hear a solid car like / Swedish truck like clunk. This cab is the biggest of all 7 available, the Gigaspace. This cab is far bigger than the old Megaspace Actros, in fact the next one down the list, the BigSpace is also bigger inside than the old Megaspace. For stat lovers the actual interior height from floor to ceiling in the Gigaspace is an incredible 213cm / 2.13m / 6ft 11inches & 7/8th’s!! If you can’t stand up comfortably in that space in the morning and put your trousers on, you really shouldn’t be driving a truck for a living. There have been plenty of rumours and comments that the truck range will now use the same interior kit as the car range. This to an extent is true. It has been set up to make the interior of all Mercedes vehicles use the same components and unify the whole lot. The dashboard is very easy to use, as you’d expect everything is easily within reach no matter how you have your big seat set. You now have 2 full size bunks in the Actros, as opposed to the old cab which had the big top bunk and the smaller lower bunk with the bulge in the rear of the cab. Actually you can spec the lower bunk with a fold up end section so you can sit up in bed. Along with the usual big pull out draws under the bunk, 3 big lockers and 3 cubby wholes above the windscreen, under-bunk fridge options, bunk options, etc etc you can spec so much stuff it’s pretty endless and makes for one of, if not the comfiest cab on the market.There is also a single occupancy cab, which you’ll have to ask your dealer about, as I forgot to ask mine! Actually just to finish on another brochure fact, the Gigapsace has got an amazing 920 litres more space than the old Megaspace. Big. I would love to do an over night test, Mr Dale if your listening!
As for the driving of the new big German, it felt so different from my old Megaspace. The chassis is wider which deffinately gives a more stable ride. The gear shift is a fully automatic box which is very smooth but quick, with a manual overide if you feel the need. One of my pet hates with auto boxes on trucks is that you can sometimes feel like the truck doesn’t know what gear it wants to be in and you feel like you have a distinct lack of control. I regularly drive one autobox that will only change itself down to 10th from 12th when you have almost stopped at a junction. To me that’s all wrong you feel the truck is just coming to stop on nothing more than the foot brake, you know what I mean. Naturally I was sceptical of the Merc box in case it was something similar. Why did I worry. Up-shifts are gentle but quick so no momentum is lost. Downshifts are regular and keep the revs high to aid the engine break if required, unlike others I have previously mentioned you feel the engine is slowing down, which restores your confidence and reduces the need for foot braking. After a bit of dual carriage way driving to get used to the Gigaspace, Rob Dale of Orwell Trucks, gently persuaded me to take the truck and trailer back through Ipswich town on a Saturday morning. Surprisingly or not, I was completely comfortable going through the heavy traffic into town, even with Mr Baker undertaking me on the one way system, I didn’t loose him in the big mirrors. I think a few of the shoppers were a little surprised to see me in their way, but luckily for them I wasn’t about to parallel park any where. With the excellent vision you get from the low dash and windscreen I would give it a go, the wife always said I can park an artic anywhere but can’t park her Audi in a field! Driving was a sheer joy and it really does give a similar ride to the big Swede beginning with an S.
All in all, the €10 Billion that Mercedes Benz have spent on this all new truck range, the first in over a decade, may just be worth it. A ride to rival the Swedes, a cab to match/better the Dutch, winner of the International Truck of The Year Award for 2012 and now Truckblog have given it 10/10, what more could the Daimler folk hope for! I know loads of you aren’t fans of the 3 pointed star, but you really can’t knock it until you have tried and tested it. Please take your local dealer up on their offer and get a demo for a week. This particular truck is the mid range 450hp straight six. There is a currently a 420hp, 450hp and a 510hp variant of the Detroit Straight Six in Euro 5, there will also be a 480hp option at Euro 6. Before my jaunt on Saturday morning AV12 DFF had spent the week on containers with DRS Logistics out of Felixstowe. Rob Dale tells me at the beginning of the week the driver wasn’t keen on trying the new Merc as it was like the old one, how wrong could he be! By the end of the week he didn’t want to move out. 100% converted. Also with Mercedes Benz Fleetboard system programme it tells how how well the truck is being driven as well as all the fuel figures and the like. During it’s week on containers, it had pulled over 20 tons every day, with and assortment of 20ft and 40ft boxes on a variety of trailers and by the end of the week the truck had returned an average of over 9 MPG, not bad at all as the truck is only a month or so old. There are also bulk tippers that have been returning over 10 to the gallon, so why not give it a try after all Mercedes claim it’s at least 6% better on fuel than it’s predecessor. Ooo I nearly forgot, Rob Dale did want me to note 2 small inconveniences drivers have found. The 2 big external lockers are a bit of a struggle for the shorter driver and it can be possible to catch the heated seat switch with your feet. Thats it.
That’s it from me, in short, I was more than impressed. I reckon most of you would be too. Don’t think back to when you last tried a Merc, this is ALL new. So make a date with the new German super model, you might just fall for it.