Since becoming available in Australia the Mack Anthem has been demonstrating its versatility in a wide variety of situations ranging from linehaul prime movers to rigid vocational applications.
Externally the new wind cheating Anthem cabs exhibit the unmistakable Mack style while extensive effort has been put into improving the trucks’ drag co-efficient and reducing air resistance by closing gaps between panels and minimising seams.
A flange between the bonnet and bumper directs air around the cab and even the LED clearance lights are recessed to further smooth out the Anthem’s lines.
The Anthem’s bonnet is unlocked by a single point latch at the front and assistance from gas struts significantly reduces the effort to tilt the front end to be presented by excellent access for servicing engine components. The driver’s side of the truck has a wide three step alloy staircase to provide safe and easy access.
The pressed metal stair treads have holes punched in them to provide safe grip for boots even in wet or muddy conditions and are complemented by a long handrail located to the rear of the door jamb.
The kerbside has the exhaust muffler and after treatment assembly neatly located between the steer wheels, with the exhaust exiting through a single vertical stack.
On the day cab model subject to our test drive the Sloanbuilt alloy tipping body sits on the Anthem’s 6,035mm wheelbase. Changes which come with the Anthem compared to its predecessor have not been limited to the exterior, and the interior of the day and sleeper cabs have been subjected to comprehensive upgrades.
The first thing noticed on entering the cab is the flat bottomed steering wheel.
The change of shape provides additional clearance to enhance entry and exit, as well as improved visibility of the automotive styled dash. Mack has partnered with ISRi to develop seats which are attuned to the suspensions of the cab and the truck to provide a comfortable ride without any feeling of being isolated from the truck.
The distinctive steering wheel has back-lit illuminated controls for the cruise control and phone on the left, and the audio system on the right.
The flattened bottom section of the steering wheel is similar to modern racing and performance cars and contributes to the cab’s improved access. Steering column rake angle can be adjusted by depressing a locking pedal located to the right of the accelerator. The touch button controls for the mDRIVE transmission have been moved closer to the driver.
The rocker switches on dash for items such as the diff lock and power divider are laser etched and should prove readable for the lifetime of the truck.
The Mack’s ‘PowerLeash’ engine brake is integral to the truck’s speed control and its levels of effectiveness are selected via a stalk mounted on the right hand side of the steering column.
The first stage activates the exhaust brake and moving the lever to the second stage activates the internal engine compression brake system.
The lever’s third stage is spring loaded and instructs the electronics to initiate down-shifts when possible to enhance engine braking effectiveness.
Maximum engine braking is achieved at 2,000rpm. The same stalk also manages the Mack ‘CoPilot’ driver information system which is displayed on a five-inch colour screen between the large easy to read analogue main instruments. Forward vision is first class through the wide two-piece windscreen, augmented by narrow ‘A’ pillars.
The west coaster mirrors are mounted on spring loaded mounts and their wide positioning on the cab’s doors is a boost when checking for traffic at intersections and roundabouts.
In addition to its aerodynamic benefits the sloping bonnet provides a better sight angle for objects immediately in front of the truck.
The gold bulldog on the bonnet of this test tipper indicates that the truck has an integrated Mack powertrain with its 13-litre Euro 5 MP8 engine, mDRIVE HD transmission and Mack rear axles which contain 3.40:1 gears. The Anthem supersedes the previous Granite model which had been limited to a maximum engine rating of 500hp.
The Anthem has three power output ratings of 435, 500 and 535HP available from its Euro 5 13.0-litre MP8 engine with maximum torque ratings ranging from 1659 to 1920 lb/ft (2244 to 2603Nm) of torque. In this 8-wheeler the mDRIVE HD transmission is a 13-speed direct drive with a deep reduction gear and multispeed reverse.
The availability of the deep reduction is ideal for many of the applications an 8×4 such as this will encounter, delivering excellent startability when required and also able to maximise fuel efficiency when combined with the high ratio rear axles.
The deep reduction transmissions have a rock free feature which automatically rocks the truck backwards and forwards to break free from being bogged.
There is also the ‘Power Launch’ mode which increases the engine’s rpm and torque delivery prior to engaging drive mode which helps with off-road low traction starts.
Mack’s Grade Gripper is a hill start assist function which holds the service brakes for up to three seconds after the brake pedal is released to avoid roll back.
On the road what stands out with the mDRIVE is the smooth shifting when the power is reapplied at the conclusion of an upshift and it’s almost as if it was a human applying the accelerator rather than a computer controlled electric servo.
The new electrical architecture of the Anthem opens the range up to be able to integrate the Bendix Wingman Fusion suite of safety features into the truck rather than merely being an add-on supplied by a party. Thus functions such as the Bendix ESP stability system are in the Anthem’s DNA right from the truck’s conception.
The Bendix Wingman is standard equipment in the Anthem and includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot alerts, Autonomous Emergency Braking and the Road Stability Advantage roll stability programme.
A new level of Mack telematics incorporates increased diagnostic services and the advances in the electrical system also foster the integration of optional features such GPS-based predictive cruise control which includes topography in the computations related to gear selection and throttle application.
Installing a twin steer load-sharing front suspension requires much more than just drilling holes and bolting on components.
The point of having the extra axle is the ability to carry additional payload and unless careful attention is paid to keeping the tare weight down the purpose of the exercise is defeated.
Fortuitously, as a key member of the global Volvo Group, the Mack engineers are able to supplement their own knowledge and experience by accessing the Volvo Group CAST (Common Architecture and Technology) system for many of the components required for the changes to the steering and front suspension.
The use of the CAST proprietary components results in the utilisation of proven items as well as a financial benefit as the development costs have already been amortised. Consequently Volvo-style parabolic springs are used at the front, with Mack’s 21-tonne rated AirRide suspension at the rear.
Eight wheelers continue to be found in an expanding range of applications including fuel and water tankers, roll back tilt trays, concrete agitators and in the waste industry as hook lifts and front bin lifters.
The additional steer axle gives the capacity to carry more load weight towards the front and so can be suitable for refrigerated transport and truck mounted cranes where additional weight is carried further forward.
The twin steer setup allows more weight to be carried and it provides additional benefits in stability and braking with more rubber on the ground and an extra set of brakes.
The Anthem is a sophisticated truck combining many of the best elements of its Mack heritage with many of the features we have come to expect from modern European trucks, particularly in the areas involving a high standard of safety which is integrated into the vehicle, rather than being an after-thought tacked on to appease some sections of the market.