This new version of the Actros cab boasts a cathedral-like 2.13-metres of interior height, measured from the floor between the seats to the ceiling.
The impressive interior volume is well-utilised with increased storage being added including three large cupboards built into the front of the truck in the space above the windscreen.
An optional microwave can be installed in the center cupboard. There is additional space under the bunk, that can include two slide out fridges both of which are within easy access of the driver.
There’s also a drawer for the logbook; and smartphones can use the charging pad on top of the dash.
Although the GigaSpace cab is taller, it is no longer than the standard Actros cab, maintaining its versatility in relation to overall combination length regulations.
The standard Actros fixed bed provides a width of 750mm (without any foldout sections) and the locally-sourced thick inner-spring mattress will provide the driver with the makings of a restful sleep. Controls for lighting and climate functions are located in the sleeper. The GigaSpace can also be fitted with an additional second bunk bed which folds down off the rear wall for those who need to double up.
Introduced in Australia in 1998, the Mercedes-Benz Actros is now in its fifth generation and Mercedes-Benz Trucks is celebrating this 25th anniversary with the availability of a special Actros 25 Driver Edition which features a dark grey metallic paint scheme matched with Alcoa Dura-Bright wheels.
On the outside, the special model is distinguished by a European-style driving light bar mounted on the roof, stainless steel steps, large Actros branding on the rear exterior wall of the cab, and Actros 25 Driver Edition graphics and badging. Inside, the special model features leather-seats, a leather wrapped steering wheel and woodgrain trim.
A bunk curtain featuring the Mercedes-Benz logo, is also provided as part of the package. The imposing GigaSpace cab was a popular display at the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show, and customer interest has been such that it is now also available in a more “standard” version without the 25 Driver Edition package but still retaining the higher roof.
It is this model of the Actros 2663 we take for an extensive drive through Central Victoria in a single trailer configuration grossing around 40 tonnes, which as expected, the 630hp/3,000Nm 16-litre engine handles with ease.
The 3.583 rear axle ratio translates to an engine speed just over 1400rpm at 100km/h in top gear. Total fuel storage capacity on this truck is 1,100 litres comprising of a 370-litre tank on the driver’s side and a 730-litre diesel tank on the kerbside which features an integrated factory-produced 110-litre AdBlue tank.
The turbo compound OM473 engine drives through the latest generation 12-speed Automated Manual Transmission (AMT). The driveline is managed by the Predictive Powertrain Control system, which uses topographical information, including pre-mapped three-dimensional GPS data, to enable the truck to make the best, and most economical, choice of throttle application and gear selection.
The eco-coast feature disengages the driveline under certain circumstances to allow the truck to coast in order to save fuel. The Predictive Powertrain Control is able to help the truck anticipate the terrain ahead and select the optimum transmission shift pattern and engine response for maximum fuel economy.
The PPC default set-up references data for Australia’s A and B roads plus many more, and through machine learning retains the information gathered while en route. PPC can be used in conjunction with the cruise control at speeds between 25km/h and 100km/h.
As the terrain varies from steep hills to undulating roads or on flatter sections, PPC recognises impending driving situations in adequate real-time and takes anticipatory action such as holding on to a gear, rather than changing up, just before the crest of the hill, or even selecting neutral to allow the truck to coast in order to save fuel in the appropriate conditions.
A notable situation can occur momentarily prior to the actual crest of the hill being ascended when the driveline is disengaged to wrangle the most amount of vehicle momentum without having to use the engine.
The first couple of times this happens is a little disconcerting as we reach crests while traversing the Pentland Hills and the initial reaction by the driver, as the engine drops back to idle prior to the actual end of a climb, is to assume the cruise control isn’t working.
We very quickly get used to it, and what was noticible the first couple of times soon becomes readily acceptable, although we momentarily check the MirrorCam screens in case a truck behind gets too close as we roll off the throttle.
The Actros’s Active Drive Assist (ADA) feature involves an electric motor fitted to the steering box which helps to actively steer the truck and provide assistance additional to the hydraulic power system to improve maneuverability, especially at low speeds.
This electric assistance also enables SAE-Level 2 partially automated driving capability, although the driver is still required to maintain contact with the steering wheel. Visual and audible alarms activate if the driver’s hands are off the wheel for an excessive period of time.
The Lane Keeping Assist system is proactive rather than reactive and actually assists to steer the truck and keep within the chosen lane, rather than applying correction after it has deviated across the lane markings.
Once we are on the highway, it takes only the first few kilometres to become familiar with the steering system which is sufficiently refined to enable a choice of three settings on where the truck sits within the lane.
This addresses the situation found with the first generation versions where a driver may find themself continually applying some resistance through the steering wheel in order to position the truck where they think it should be within the lane. The system utilises cameras to monitor lane markings, and uses that data to help operate the electro-hydraulic steering system.
The driver can overrule Lane Keeping Assist at any time and is also able to turn off the system.
The adaptive cruise control function is integrated into the Active Drive Assist system and if the driver gets too close to a vehicle in front, the ADA can automatically brake the truck until the pre-determined minimum distance has been re-established.
The newest-generation ADA 2 is capable of initiating an emergency stop if it recognises that the driver has not been actively involved in the driving process for a certain period of time, which could be related to fatigue, inattention or medical issues. Initially the system requests the driver via visual and acoustic signals to place their hands on the steering wheel.
If, after multiple warnings, there is no response the ADA system can brake the truck safely until it comes to a complete standstill while staying within its lane. The hazard lights are activated and as the truck comes to a standstill, the system can automatically engage the electronic parking brake.
This Actros is equipped with an improved version of the optional MirrorCam system with cameras relaying the footage onto screens mounted close to the A pillars.
In addition to reducing drag and turbulence the cameras also improve visibility by removing the traditional mirrors from the driver’s field of view and the driver doesn’t need to take their eyes very far off the road ahead in order to check what’s happening behind.
The exterior camera wings have been redesigned and are now 100mm shorter without affecting the cameras’ ability to provide an expansive peripheral display, and the screen resolution has been improved. The benefits of MirrorCam are numerous and the familiarity with the screens quickly becomes intuitive.
The effectiveness of MirrorCam is further highlighted when negotiating tight turns as well as when reversing due to the automatic switching to panoramic mode providing an increased field of vision to the driver. The panning function creates the situation where the displayed image follows the trailer(s) according to input from the steering wheel angle.
The pre-trip setting up of the MirrorCam to mark the absolute rear end of any combination takes only moments using controls in the cab.
The GigaSpace cab may have interior dimensions suitable for basketball players, but it doesn’t appear misproportioned and retains a high degree of aerodynamic efficiency despite its size.