The DAF of Luxury

PACCAR is a company renowned for its extensive test programs and what better place to put heavy vehicles to work and gauge reliability and performance than Australia. Our country, with its unique conditions, is known globally as one of the toughest transport environments, so when DAF Trucks wanted to put the XF 105, a highly successful model in European markets, to the test in an entirely different climate and operating arena, some select customers here were selected to throw tough haulage tasks at the big cab over.

One of those is Kelvyn and Shirley Fuller Transport Pty Ltd, trading as K&S Transport, a strong DAF buyer and operator of refrigerated and dry freight services. The family company is a big user of PACCAR products in a fleet known for top of the range service and reliability, with a highly professional team of drivers.

The company has trialled a number of new DAF trucks, in fact it has been at the forefront of some of the most intensive testing of new developments coming from the Dutch truck manufacturer. It has had units in operation where the cab has been locked down and all results of trials sent directly to Eindhoven in Holland, including complete engines.

There are a number of Kenworths in the fleet accompanying the DAF truck model variants that include rigid units, and according to K&S Director, Kelvyn Fuller, they have been a good choice for their intended haulage roles. When the opportunity arose to become involved in Australian trials of the DAF flagship XF 105, K&S jumped at the chance.

The big cab over is extremely popular in European trucking operations and offers a host of luxury appointments designed for long haul duties. The Super Space Cab is one of the most spacious on the road, offering an extremely comfortable working environment for the driver. In addition to this, the truck with K&S is equipped with the DAF safety package including Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning and the new DAF Camera System delivering a high level of driver awareness by providing information on what is happening all around the vehicle.

While driver safety and comfort is of importance, the package is judged on performance and reliability in any transport operation and the DAF XF 105 is, as Kelvin Fuller reports, doing an excellent job regardless of route or terrain.

It is powered by the PACCAR MX375 engine as badging on the vehicle attests, with 375kW (510hp) of power on tap between 1500 and 1900rpm and 2500Nm of torque delivered between 1000 and 1400rpm, but there is some discussion about the actual power rating on the test truck due to performance in tough haulage conditions. Perhaps it has received a power boost to around 550hp.

The PACCAR MX is a 12.9 litre engine meeting Euro 5 emissions standards. With the SMART injection system, SCR technology and being fitted with a particulate filter, it also complies with EEV (Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicles) conditions.

PACCAR engines have been put through extreme testing under Australian conditions, in fact they have been subjected to some of the harshest haulage duties to determine engine performance and life plus economy in our climate and ultimately to provide a long wearing product for the rest of the world, and this truck will play a role in enhanced research and development for DAF.

The engine drives through the AS-Tronic 16-speed automated transmission, one of the best in the business, and from day one in the K&S fleet impressed drivers who tell of smooth changes and optimum power delivery regardless of terrain. The XF 105 has been a hit, establishing it as a true driver’s truck.

“The driver in the vehicle absolutely loves it,” says Kelvyn Fuller. “It is smooth, has more than adequate power and is extremely comfortable with low noise levels, great ride and handling, good vision and plenty of storage spaces for essentials. The safety package is something he really appreciates and we see great value in that.”

The one thing Australian conditions throw at drivers with monotonous regularity is errant animals, and a suicidal kangaroo made contact with the left front of the truck on its latest trip, causing some minor damage and not impressing the driver who takes considerable pride in his truck.

The truck will be in service with K&S for a full 12 month period and during that time will cover in excess of 200,000 kilometres on runs to mainly country centres, over some less than ideal road conditions, and it is under these arduous runs that comfort is a priority.

From behind the wheel everything is at the driver’s fingertips despite the generous cab dimensions and when it comes time to take a break from the road the truck offers plenty of room to move. Storage compartments allow stowage of a huge amount of gear in compartments above the windscreen, in the dash, doors and under the lower bunk. The double bunk arrangement features large and deep mattresses, 15 centimetres on the lower bunk, for comfortable sleeping and the upper bunk has a full two metre, one-piece mattress.

A table extends from the centre console to allow meal preparation or the completion of ever-present paperwork and moving around the cab is a simple process due to the low engine tunnel and cab height that allows a person to stand upright for changing.

Cab design is the result of constant discussions with drivers to get the picture of what they need in a long distance truck to achieve comfort, productivity and safety. The curved dashboard contains a full range of controls and an LCD information panel integrated into the centre of the instrument panel delivering data on all vehicle functions.

This really is a truck for the driver and the units under testing in Australia give a thorough taste of what the result of operation in varied applications has on the life of a vehicle and its components.

The XF 105 in service with K&S Transport is not afforded any manner of kid glove treatment, rather it is expected to perform its duties as reliably as all other trucks in the fleet servicing customer needs, and with a few months and thousands of kilometres under its wheels, the DAF is doing as it should.

Kelvyn and Shirley Fuller have based their business on ultra reliable service and customer satisfaction and that is demanded of the big DAF as it covers the highway network.

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