Horses For Courses

Scania has had the edge in the horsepower rankings for a long time in the Australian market, at least. Now it has surpassed its own previous rating with a 770 horsepower V8.

The predecessor Scania R730 has been available in Australia for the past decade and the new R770 capitalises upon its predecessor’s solid reputation and delivers a significant range of small and macro improvements without any apparent compromises.

As it has done in the past, Scania took what was already a very good thing and made it better. Although the engine’s maximum power has been increased by 5.5 per cent over the preceding 730hp, in engineering terms it’s still relatively under-stressed.

Heat is a byproduct of all that power and in marine applications where there is an almost infinite supply of water in which to transfer the heat and cool the engine, what is essentially the same 16.4 litre engine can be specified to deliver 1000-plus horsepower. The biggest limitation for road going engines is the ability to maintain their temperature using conventional liquid-to-air radiators and crank driven fans. With an output of 770hp this doesn’t seem to be a problem for this latest Scania R model.

The all cast iron 16.4 litre V8 is the beating heart of the machine and its maximum 770hp is achieved at 1,800rpm and its stump- pulling 3,700Nm of maximum torque is sent down the tail shaft to the wheels at engine speeds between 1,000 and 1,450 rpm. The additional power is not at the cost of fuel economy and the various engine enhancements and the use of a 3.07:1 rear axle ratios makes best use of the prodigious amount of torque while at the same time delivering fuel efficiency which Scania say is two per cent better than the current 730hp trucks.

Scania’s attention to minimising fuel consumption continues unabated, and the new V8 range, including the 770 hp variant, offers improved fuel efficiency derived from extensive fine-tuning and development by Scania’s engineers. Within the engine there are more than 70 new parts, collectively contributing to the higher outputs through significant reductions in internal friction while at the same time utilising higher compression ratios.

Improved exhaust after treatment-systems and a new powerful engine management system (EMS) translate to the emission control process being able to meet the Euro 6 standards without the need for Exhaust Gas Recirculation, by utilising instead Supplementary Catalytic Reduction (SCR) in combination with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF).

The additional power isn’t due to just a single factor, instead from a combination of subtle changes including bigger injectors and a fixed geometry liquid cooled turbocharger incorporating low friction ball bearings. The combined results are faster engine response and improved combustion, which lowers emissions and increases available power. The incorporation of the revised components delivers a bonus in managing to remove 75kg of weight, most of it from over the front axle.

Air suspension is used front and rear incorporating a load transfer system. On board weighing readouts are displayed on the information screen in the cab.

The extra stiff anti-roll bar means there is no wallowing through medium and high speed corners as can be sometimes experienced with air suspended front axles on big trucks. In common with most European prime movers operating under Australian regulations, the wheelbase necessary for optimum axle loads in cab over configurations precludes the fitment of extra-long range fuel tanks, and the 770 makes do with a 710-litre alloy tank on the kerbside and a 320-litre on the driver’s side. The AdBlue tank has an effective usable capacity of 112 litres and is also mounted on the driver’s side.

The Scania’s handling has been further enhanced by the fitment of an electric-over-hydraulic power steering known as Electric Active Steering (EAS) which provides the driver with a road feel that is precise without being too sensitive. The steadiness of the steering function translates to the lane departure warning system remaining silent for most of the trip and watching the mirrors for any twitching of the rear trailer shows just how stable the steering can be.

On the open highway 100 km/h is achieved with the engine just ticking along at around 1,250 rpm, pretty much smack in the middle of its peak torque range. Loaded to gross 62 tonnes, it requires a significant incline for the Opticruise transmission to even think about downshifting more than one gear.

It was anticipated that this test drive was to be all about the engine, and to a certain degree it is, but the seamless integration of the entire driveline, coupled with the outstanding steering and handling add up to a rather remarkable prime mover.

The power aspects are balanced by Scania’s renowned safety systems including Adaptive Cruise Control which integrates with an engine exhaust brake and the always impressive Scania Retarder. The brake blending in combination with the four-stage retarder is impressively effective and smooth and the driver has the confidence of the Advanced Emergency Braking system doing its job if an imminent collision is detected by the electronics.

The overall braking system is so good that even an occasional driver such as your correspondent is able to achieve scores of 95 per cent braking and 96 per cent ‘anticipation’ on the Scania Driver Support System. This is achieved by simply setting the Opticruise to ECO mode and letting the Scania’s sophisticated wizardry handle the rest.

Climb into the cab and the initial observation is this unmistakeably is a Scania. This particular unit is the first example of the 770 to be brought to Australia for evaluation by local Scania engineers, operators and media, and the cab meets every expectation to provide a great working environment.

The ergonomics are typically Scania and the wrap-around dash provides easy access to all controls and instruments. A tasteful mixture of black and sand coloured interior finishes with bright red trim and stitching and, in case you missed it, plenty of V8 logos.

There’s a double fridge unit under the bunk which is extendable to one metre wide and has pocket springs to ensure the resting driver is as comfortable as when they are sitting on the heated and very adjustable seat and holding the flat-bottomed steering wheel. In-cab safety is further enhanced due to the standard fitment of the Scania driver airbag and side air bag curtains.

Scania has persevered with the V8 configuration instead of the big in-line six which has become the universal layout for almost all other engine manufacturers.

However, Scania continues to be at the forefront of alternative fuels and power sources such as gas and electric technologies and by delivering this diesel powered 770hp engine is shown to be acknowledging that, at least in the ultra-heavy payload landscape, diesel will continue to be the energy source of choice for quite a few years yet.

As with most of its other engines, the Scania 770 can be operated effectively on biodiesel.

In the Australian market the Scania 770 probably won’t be restricted to the ultra-heavy loads requiring over-mass permits and escorts.

The fastest way to increase transport efficiency is to implement bigger combinations such as A-doubles and roadtrains where practicable and in applications such as these the 770 will eat up the distances.

The Scania cab is very driver focused and with the V8 driveline commercial factors such as payload and fuel efficiency are consistently impressive. A 770-horsepower prime mover is not for everybody, although there may be a few out there who will invest in one for bragging rights. For more pragmatic buyers, this truck brings to the table its renowned ease of operation, a comprehensive suite of safety technologies and a driveline offering unrivalled performance for shifting heavy loads.

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