The next-generation Scania has earned the ultimate international accolade: that of International Truck of the Year. Now it’s arrived in South Africa. And, as GAVIN MYERS and CHARLEEN CLARKE report, it offers a whole bundle of benefits to local transport operators…
It was a case of lights, camera and action, as the who’s who of the South African transport industry gathered recently in a mammoth marquee erected at Montecasino, north of Johannesburg, for the launch of the next-generation Scania.
A total of 600 guests – transport operators, members of the media, Scania staff members as well as friends and associates of the company – joined countless numbers of people around the world, who enjoyed a live cast of the black-tie affair.
Scania South Africa had truly rolled out the red carpet on the night and, after sipping champagne and munching on canapes, the evening’s formalities began. Hosts for the night, former Miss South Africa, Jo-Ann Strauss, and Survivor SA host Mark Bayly, added glamour and pizzazz to the evening as they called Raimo Lehtiö, MD of Scania South Africa, to the stage to formally welcome guests. He revealed that the launch was extremely significant for the company. “This is our single most important event in 20 years!” he noted.
Lehtiö added that the next-generation Scania offers operators many benefits. “It is the safest and most fuel-efficient truck available in South Africa,” he noted.
Stefano Fedel, regional executive director Europe Middle-East and Africa, was the next person to take to the stage. The world of heavy transport stands on the brink of a fundamental shift towards sustainable transport. Digitalisation and connectivity will play a pivotal role in enabling this shift – and Fedel tackled this important issue.
“Connectivity has been an integral part of Scania’s customer offering for many years. Scania has 340 000 connected vehicles around the world. Smart transport allows us to create efficient transport,” he told the audience.
Like Lehtiö, he stressed that the next-generation Scania is tremendously good news for South African transport operators, who are feeling the pinch of fuel price increases. “The next-generation Scania has won every global fuel test in which it has participated!” he enthused.
After a spectacular performance by dancers and musicians, the real stars of the evening – the trucks themselves – were revealed. It was obvious that the audience wanted to get up close and personal with the actual trucks – but first they listened to three other speakers.
Ahmed Al-Mayahi, area sales manager Africa, and Anders Friberg, general manager, truck sales and export, told the audience about all the innovations in the truck range – which comprises the S-series, which offers the ultimate driver comfort; the R-series, a premium workhorse; the G-series, which is right at home in construction applications; and the P-series which is well balanced for inner-city needs.
Mark Erasmus, general manager services, was the final speaker, and he revealed that the new trucks come with a three-year/600 000 km warranty, accessible through 37 service and repair points in the region.
He also noted that the truck recently won the prestigious International Truck of the Year award. This was in 2017 and, at the time, International Truck of the Year chairman Gianenrico Griffini noted that “with its new range, Scania has delivered a truck that represents a real state-of-the-art offering in the heavy-duty segment, capable of satisfying not only today’s, but also tomorrow’s transport needs”. (Even today, we cannot help but concur.)
Getting behind the wheel
Once the speeches were over, guests were invited to view and climb into the trucks; it was clear that this was the real highlight of the evening for them! They’d have to wait till the following day to get behind the wheel, though. There were, in fact, two days of test driving at the Gerotek vehicle testing facility outside of Pretoria.
Driving this range of former International Truck of the Year winners on local soil was a personal highlight for us, too. Indeed, we’d been itching to do so since that time; and the wait was well worth it!
The day started off with the smallest in the range – the P-series. Powered by a range of engines from 250 to 460 hp (186 kW to 343 kW), Scania has designed the P-series to combine low weight with great visibility and drivability – making it “the most versatile cab range, which is ideal for urban and regional operations and is well proven for construction and other demanding conditions”.
With normal- or low-height day cabs as well as low-height short cabs, the P-series can be had in a range of truck-tractor or rigid chassis configurations (either normal or low height) with 4×2, 6×2 or 8×2 drive and front, twin or rear steering. The new P-series also introduces the CrewCab variant, which offers seating for six in a flexible cab layout.
The models we drove were all 6×2 rigid chassis cabs, some with raised tag axles. Putting them through their paces in a series of manoeuvrability tests, the P-series proved exceptionally nimble and easy to place – primarily aided by the clear sight lines from the driver’s seat. This was mainly thanks to the comprehensive electrically adjusted side mirror arrangement and large windscreen ahead of the low-set dash.
In fact, the low-set dash is a feature we appreciated in all the models we drove on the day…
Speaking of which, next up was the G-series. This range of mid-sized cabs is the true all-rounder in the next-generation Scania offering; designed for use in just about any application from long-haul with its high-, normal-, or low-roof sleeper cabs to distribution work with its normal- and low-roof day cabs or construction with its low-roof short cab.
Engines on offer cover the 360 to 460 hp (268 to 343 kW) range and chassis configurations go from 4×2 to 6×6 truck tractors and 4×2 to 10×4 rigids. Most of the models we drove, however, were the most common we’re likely to see on South Africa’s roads – the G460 6×4 truck tractor, coupled in our case to a range of tippers and tankers loaded to around 20 t.
The G-series offers enhanced levels of comfort and storage space and it’s here, when one notices the lack of wind noise at these higher speeds, where the advanced aerodynamic properties of the next-generation Scania are most notable. Indeed, all the next-generation cabs are designed for low air resistance and include roof and side air deflectors.
It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want for anything more in a line-haul application than the well-rounded G-series, but, for those who do, Scania’s luxurious R- and S-series cabs will surely knock their socks off… Immediately, the stand-out feature of these cabs is space – and lots of it.
Sure, the R-series come in normal- and low-roof sleeper cabs and day cabs, but it’s the high-roof sleeper cabs we’re really interested in here! With a full 2 070 mm of height, it would take a seriously tall driver to feel cramped in these quarters. Even the lower bed of these luxurious sleepers measures 1 000 x 2 175 mm (upper beds in three choices of width are optional).
The S-series, with its flat floor and extended storage facilities, takes this a step further, but both are packed to the brim with luxurious fittings and convenience features. Soft-touch dash material and high-quality fittings abound.
The standard seven-inch touch-screen infotainment system is complemented by an elegant, unique set of gauges that flank another seven-inch multi-function colour driver information display. The seats and steering wheel are trimmed in leather while automatic climate control keeps the cab environment comfortable.
While these luxury long-haulers start at 410 hp (305 kW), we know what it is you’re waiting to hear about… Yes, the famed six-litre Scania V8 remains in the 560 hp (417 kW) application – and it’s now even better than before! Scania has optimised the V8 with a Miller camshaft for better engine breathing; a relocated, fixed-geometry twin-scroll turbo that saves weight and improves the robustness of the system; as well as a new single-piece exhaust manifold per bank that boosts turbo efficiency.
With vehicles laden near capacity, we hauled up and down the challenging Gerotek ride and handling track without a sweat (oh the V8 rumble); the combination of exhaust brake and five-stage retarder allowing for easily managed progress.
We also felt safe in the knowledge that the next-generation Scania features the likes of a hill-hold system; Electronic Stability Programme; Advanced Emergency Braking; Lane Departure Warning, and steering wheel and side curtain airbags. As Friberg noted earlier, “these are the safest (and most fuel efficient) trucks in the market”.
The day’s fun wasn’t over yet, though, as our final stint involved getting muddy while tackling a challenging off-road track in the XT range of off-road/construction trucks. Based on either the P- or G-series, the XT features significant enhancements for work in challenging environments. Take for instance the one-piece steel front bumper that provides protection for components under the cab; the 40-t towbar; and heavy-duty powertrain.
The XT offers exceptional capability with a range of drive and axle options, as well as engine, flywheel or gearbox-drive power take-off (PTO) options. Like the rest of the range, the XTs make use of Scania’s Opticruise eight or 12-speed transmission for smooth, uninterrupted gearchanges. In the XT Scania has also introduced Clutch on Demand, which provides the driver with a clutch pedal for when he needs additional control.
While the base range of next-generation Scania vehicles surely covers most needs of the market, one thing that came up time and again was that “one application does not fit all operations”, as Friberg mentioned. “We’re introducing TMA – Tailor-Made for your Application. Our trucks and related services will be made to suit our customers’ needs,” he said.
Earlier in the week, at the gala banquet, Lehtiö revealed that the company already had hundreds of orders for the next-generation truck – despite the fact that operators had neither yet seen nor driven the vehicle. Now that we’ve driven it, we can confirm that they won’t be disappointed…