Taking this new International model for a road test, Diesel News tries answering the ProStar question. The contemporary truck market poses a brand like International different questions than those posed in its heyday near the end of the 20th century. This is the most 21st century International yet.
Looking at the International ProStar as it re-enters the Australian truck market, there are some parts of the truck which are classic, from a bygone age, and some which are very much of the now. This could be a good combination as long as the designers get the balance right, between the latest thinking and older style designs.
This is not a truck with massive pretensions. it has not been introduced onto the market with massive claims about gaining a high market share or revolutionising trucking in Australia. This is a truck which Iveco hope the Australian truck buying public will warm to, because it ticks all of the boxes and makes operators money.
Making money with trucks does have a long history for International. There are lot of highly successful transport operations which made a lot of money running Internationals from the sixties through to the nineties. That market dominance has gone, but there are some long memories out there and a certain amount of affection for the Inter name.
Diesel took the ProStar, with the high roof sleeper option, and pulling a B-double set tipping the scales at just over 62 tonnes, down the Pacific Highway from Brisbane to Sydney. This is a route for which the truck was designed, long inter-capital running at highway speeds, or it will be when the never ending road building program is completed.
Along with the package come a few more long time favourites in Australian trucking, a Cummins engine, an Eaton transmission and a Meritor back end. This a potent mix which has served a number of truck makers well over the years. Australian operators know the product and have been dealing with these particular suppliers for decades.
On the ProStar model used in this test the Cummins ISX engine fitted is rated at 600 hp (447 kW) with the torque set at 2780 Nm (2050 ft lb). This is the kind of setting many B-doubles run at and one which is popular with drivers. For the more fuel conscious customer the power would probably be set a little lower, while retaining the kind of pulling power this level of torque provides.
Coupled to this engine is the Ultrashift Plus AMT, which is gaining market share behind US engines at quite a rate. Although based on the faithful Roadranger, the driver experience is completely different with the box now smart enough to be left to its own devices, much of the time.
Getting the best out of this truck requires keeping an aye and an ear on things and intervening just when it’s needed. The experience is not like the modern European one where it is possible to let the computers controlling all of the systems talk to each other and decide on the best course of action and do it, much faster than a human can.
The driver needs to be engaged, knock off the cruise control just before the top of the rise, cut the engine brake just before the bottom of the dip or grab that gear manually just to get those extra rpms needed to get the job done right.
Ergonomically the ProStar does get it right with a comfortable driving position and the main controls well within reach. In fact, all of the controls are well within reach with the central binnacle quite close.
With the binnacle in this position, this means the controller for the Ultrashift gearbox is actually in the way when the driver tries to get up on their feet and walk into the cabin. There is a neat solution to this, and one developed here in Australia, the controller is on a hinged mount and can be swung round out of the way and up against the binnacle itself.
Driving the ProStar is in some ways like looking back in time, but in other ways is like driving a truck which is right up to date. It is a mix of styles see-sawing from contemporary to traditional.