Test Drive: Iveco Eurocargo

As befitting its name, the Eurocargo’s distinctly European styling sets it apart from the predominantly Japanese competition in its class. But this truck’s beauty is more than skin deep. Among the reasons the Eurocargo won the 2016 International Truck of the Year Award are its advanced efficiency and safety features, some of which have only been offered in trucks at the heavier end of the scale – in Australia at least.

To test the features, Prime Mover drove the Iveco Eurocargo on a 900km tour of the Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney. To ensure that the driving experience is realistic, our test vehicle’s curtain-sider body is loaded up with some “important cargo”, read: concrete blocks, providing 5,658kg on the front axle and 8,070kg on the drive – a total of 13,728kg.

The Eurocargo handles the weight with ease, though. The 6.7-litre Tector 7 engine is currently available in two power ratings, developing 250hp (185kW) and 627 ft/lb (850Nm) in ML120 models, and 280hp (206kW) and 738 ft/lb (1,000Nm) in ML160 and ML180 models.

The Euro VI Eurocargo’s 6.7 litre Tector 7 engine has an increased capacity over the one found in Euro V examples (up from 5.9 litres). In order to meet the more stringent Euro VI emissions standards, the new engines use Iveco’s latest ‘HI-SCR’ system, which involves a single AdBlue after-treatment application combined with a passive no-maintenance DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter).

The Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) process has a number of advantages over exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) including reducing the need for a larger cooling system, which lowers the tare weight especially over the front axle, adding the twin benefits of marginally increasing payload capacity and reducing fuel consumption. The Iveco HI-SCR system uses fewer components than EGR or EGR/SCR hybrid systems and provides increased simplicity and Iveco claims the DPF does not require driver activated ‘regeneration’. Another benefit of getting away from EGR is the greatly extended oil change intervals of up to 80,000km (depending upon the application), which can further reduce the total cost of ownership.

The Tector 7 engines specify low viscosity oils, which reduce friction for even more improved efficiency. Another new fuel efficiency feature is an electronically controlled, two-speed electromagnetic engine fan that is automatically engaged or disengaged according to cooling requirements and is something else that cuts noise.
Wind noise is reduced by the redesigned cab panels, which also improve the aerodynamics thanks to revised front air deflectors that channel air around the front corners of the cab, and there is no external sun visor to upset airflow. The internal ‘sun filter’ is effective except when driving directly into the sun when it is low on the horizon. The smoother look results in the Eurocargo presenting a quite stylish and non-aggressive appearance that helps cheat the wind and save fuel, if we accept the formula that at highway speeds a two per cent improvement in aerodynamics can deliver a one per cent reduction in fuel consumption.

Due to initial concerns that the standard 280-litre fuel tank would be sufficient for the trip, we make a pit stop at Marulan to be sure that we have enough fuel to cover the final 150km to Western Sydney. In the final analysis we need not have worried as the 888km trip used a total of 225 litres. Keeping in mind, Prime Mover test drives aren’t necessarily aiming to maximise economy, rather we put a truck through various driving situations that may not be conducive to frugal fuel economy. The average for the trip was 3.95km/litre, with the Eurocargo delivering between 3.32km/litre on its journey across Melbourne in quite heavy traffic to a best of 4.74km/litre on the mostly gentle downhill run from Marulan.

The driver and passengers in the Eurocargo are kept comfy on the trip as both the driver and passenger seats are air suspended ISRIs and have a durable cloth finish and integrated seat belts. Most of the interior is trimmed in a dark grey material, with the main dash featuring a charcoal surface. Some of the switches located in the centre of the dash, including climate control, are a bit of a stretch but they are the ones seldom used and the controls that matter are readily located on steering column stalks or on the steering wheel itself.

The transmission is a ZF eight-speed all-synchro with an additional crawler gear. The ratios are ideally spaced to suit the engine’s torque and power and the shifter is mounted to the dash, which gives extra room for moving about within the cab. The shift pattern is ‘H over H’ with the split between the ranges accomplished by a twist knob on the lever. A lift up collar located below that permits the selection of reverse or crawler and protects the transmission components from inadvertent grinding. An illuminated tortoise on the dash shows when low range is selected but there is no corresponding rabbit for high range. If the truck comes to a stop while still in high range, a warning light on the dash combined with an audible alarm warns the driver to shift to low range for the consequent take off. The Allison Series 3000 five-speed full automatic is available as an option.

This particular truck has been optioned up with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and a Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), a Hill Holder function, and Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs). ACC has had a steady take-up by the Australian heavy truck market and its availability on a mid-sized truck such as this Eurocargo is still somewhat of a novelty but it certainly proves itself applicable as we head into the setting sun towards the end of the trip in Western Sydney.

The Eurocargo eats up the trip averaging 86.6km/h over the entire distance and we never drop more than one gear on any of the hills, which is impressive considering the gross weight. We choose to mostly change down at 1,500rpm and could actually have allowed the engine to lug lower as the ‘green’ band stretches from 1,100 to 2,100rpm. In top gear, 100km/h is at 1,900 rpm.

The sun filter windscreen and the flip down visor do a reasonable job of allowing forward vision but it’s comforting to know that the adaptive cruise control will act as an electronic sentinel should the traffic ahead suddenly stop or slow unexpectedly. The ACC provides a dash readout of the distance and speed of the vehicle in front, which assists the driver in making decisions about whether slowing or changing lanes is absolutely necessary. The LDWS is not set too fine and the truck has to be very close to line markings before the alarm sounds. This means that the truck is able to move completely within its lane and not be restricted to a narrow corridor right in the centre, and false alarms are few.

Getting into and out of the cab is safe and easy thanks to the noticeably deep steps as well as doors that open up to a full 90 degrees. This is the high roof sleeper cab with a skylight/safety hatch and massive overhead storage above the screen and bins with mesh retainers above the windows. It is a true stand-up cab  at 1.9m long and 506mm wide, and the feeling of spaciousness is palpable. The big cab makes it feel like a bigger truck and the high roof may seem a bit much for running around town and there are day cab and low roof options available for short haul applications, but for running from capital cities to regional centres such as Orange, Toowoomba or Shepparton, it’s great to have the extra space.

The Eurocargo functions in a very competitive sales sector in Australia that is dominated by Japanese brands and this latest model’s specifications and performance should give Iveco confidence that it has a contender.

Fast Fact
At its media launch of the Euro VI range earlier this year, Iveco’s Australian Sales and Product Manager, Marco Quaranta, said that a 320hp version backed by the AStronic 12-speed AMT from ZF would be added to the lineup later in 2017 in Eurocargo models rated up to 22.5 tonnes GVM. Iveco Trucks Australia has since rescinded the statement.

Fast Fact
All of the new Eurocargo variants feature front and rear disc brakes with ABS, Anti-Slip Regulator (ASR), Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and Advanced Emergency Braking System (AEBS).


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