As we’ve said before ‘man cannot live on prime-mover sales alone’ and it’s the bread and butter trucks lower down the weight-range that deliver the goods, in more ways than one. In Europe, as is true in Australia, top-weight prime movers have long been the ‘Glamour Boys’ of the truck world, and ever since Scania’s ‘New Generation’ R and S-series appeared in 2016 they’ve attracted plenty of attention.
Next from Scania comes L-series. Think of a P-cab, but moved 550mm forward and lowered by 220mm and you’re there. Its low-mounted low-entry cabin comes with three roof heights—low, normal and high, along with a variety of seating options.
Driving round Södertälje’s busy streets, the 220hp DC07 proved extremely well-matched to the eight-speed GR875 box. With 1,000Nm of torque available from 1,050-1,500rpm it pulls particularly strongly around 1,400rpm while the latest version of Opticruise ensures rapid, smooth changes. Even when working hard it’s quiet inside.
Frankly, unless your delivery route includes motorway running, or tough hill climbs, we don’t see the need for more power, or gears. Whether it’s keeping-up with the traffic or accelerating away from lights, the 220hp DC07/GR875 combo is perfectly adequate for Europe’s 18-tonne diminishing-load delivery-work. So it should be more-than enough for 15 or 16 tonne work down-under. And, being 360kg lighter than the DC09, you’ll have more loading-latitude on your front-axle.
For a reality check we next drove an 18-tonne P-series 4×2 tipper with the highest-rating 280hp DC07 and a GRS895 12-speed box. Not surprisingly its extra power and 200Nm additional torque meant a more brisk journey. But in congested city streets where you can only drive as fast as the vehicle in front, any advantage in power is easily lost.
Along with offering an optional electric park brake Scania has revised its hill-hold system. Previously, once you’d applied the foot-brake the service brakes remained on for 3-5 seconds before automatically releasing.
With new ‘Auto Hold’ (available on all Scania models), once applied on a gradient the service brakes remain permanently on until the driver presses the throttle and the system senses the clutch is fully-engaged. We like it, especially as it provides more control when restarting on a slope.
If you remain stationary for slightly longer, it automatically transitions from Auto Hold (which uses the service brakes, when a green parking brake symbol is displayed) to the parking brake (which uses the spring-brakes and displays the usual red parking brake symbol).
Our P220 was fuelled with HVO (Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil) biodiesel, one of the five alternative fuels currently being promoted by Scania. However, we couldn’t detect any difference in drivability or performance to regular diesel, not least as HVO’s calorific is virtually identical. What you get with HVO, however, is a big reduction in CO₂ —of up to 90% according to Scania, while NOx and particulates levels remain very similar.
Mounting the smaller seven-litre engine under the P-series cab means a significantly-lower engine hump (by 95mm) compared to the engine tunnel above the alternative nine-litre DC09. Consequently, it’s easier to slide over to the nearside door. The P-cab’s durable light/dark grey trim is also well-suited to intensive delivery operations too, but without compromising driver comfort. Indeed, for a delivery vehicle P-series has much of the strong driver-appeal found in its bigger G, R and S siblings.
We next tried a low-entry L320 6×2 rear-steer chassis with Scania’s updated nine-litre engine coupled to a six-speed Allison box. On the back was a refuse collection body. If the latest P-cab has already opened up a driver’s sight-lines considerably, lowering the driving position places you even closer to the action at street-level. And while low-entry chassis aren’t the only solution to avoiding collisions with vulnerable road users, there’s no denying the L-series cab’s terrific all-round view from the driving seat.