The Stralis is a good looking truck even though its cab design is 15 years old, it was quite a futuristic looking truck when first launched, but in the intervening time the look has matured. Gone are the garish interior colours preferred by the Italian truck importers, at the time. The colour scheme is now more conservative, but stylish.
Diesel News took the current model up and around NSW’s Blue Mountains before battling through the traffic of Western Sydney, and then returning the truck to its Arndell Park base. This is an ideal way to get to know just what the Iveco Stralis is all about.
The basic prime mover is a 6×4 with the 500 hp version of the Cursor 13 engine. This puts out 2300 Nm (1696 ft lb) of torque between 1000 and 1700 rpm, exactly the kind of output needed to keep up momentum in a truck pulling a single trailer in the mountains and the city.
This engine did have some issues in earlier models, but Iveco have both improved the engineering strength and are targeting more suitable applications when selling the trucks. The engine calibrations have been altered to optimise torque and fan operation. This has seen engine life prolonged, reportedly, due to lower engine working temperatures.
New aluminium pistons dissipate heat further within the engine.At the same time, the camshaft design has been improved to enhance durability. All of this is coupled with a higher capacity oil pump to improve lubrication and as a result lengthen engine life.
All of these changes are part of the process of Iveco learning how much different conditions are for trucks in Australia, when compared to those running around in Europe. This is a lesson learnt the hard way, with the early Cursor engines gaining a less than satisfactory reputation for lack of durability in some applications.
All of this is behind the engine now and it is possible to enjoy a very smooth running torquey little unit which couples low tare weight with a willingness to get up and go.
On the steep climb up the Bells Line of Road out of Windsor, into the Blue Mountains, you can simply select a lower gear by pushing the right foot through the detent at the foot of the climb. Then the truck holds 45 km/h at 1600 rpm. Even with the right foot firmly planted, the 16 speed Eurotronic ll AMT still lets the revs die down to 1200 rpm before making a down change.
On the steeper pinches the speed drops below 30 km/h to eighth gear and senses the angle of ascent to be higher, changing at 1300. This is a killer climb and really will put an engine and a gearbox combination to a severe test. Simply pushing through to the floor, telling the control system you want to go hard, means the truck will go hard up the grade.
Transmission control is simple, for such a sophisticated bit of equipment. Iveco were pioneers with the Eurotronic AMT. It was the first gearbox based on the ZF AS Tronic released in a truck. As the gearbox has developed, Iveco have always been close to the front of the curve and the smoothness and good anticipation of the computer control tell us, it is still a frontrunner.
Three buttons on the dash do the job, D, N and R, drive, neutral and reverse, it’s all you need. Fine control when manoeuvring can by be modulated from the way you use the accelerator. The system can tell whether the driver needs to crawl when picking up a trailer, or get up and go when setting off from traffic lights. Manual override is possible from the right hand stalk, if needed. This feature was only used a few times, to hold a gear over the top of a rise and to get revs up, to get the best out of the engine brake.