Walking across the yard before road testing the T610, it was a hot summer morning at Brown and Hurley’s Yatala dealership, the question is does it feel like a Kenworth? Is it still a matter of climbing up into the cab, smelling the familiar interior and turning the key to hear the familiar Cummins roar, to get that feeling?
Heading out onto the road in the T610 gives the driver a familiar feeling. The engine and gearbox here are known quantities. The Cummins X15 is not one the new engines being used in the US, but the ISX we are used to with some some small changes, essentially a new naming convention. Of course, the Eaton Roadranger is more than a little familiar and helps to keep the look and feel right.
Another of the things which have not changed is the chassis set-up. One result of the consistent Kenworth philosophy of making only incremental change is the ride you get in recent models. The suspension and dimensions have been fine tuned over a long period to end up with a prime mover which is sure footed and much more comfortable than many of its predecessors.
So the new model sounds like a Kenworth, smells like a Kenworth and has the road feel of the Kenworth. The only question remaining, does it look like a Kenworth, like an Australian Kenworth? The answer here can be found by comparing these new trucks to the current Kenworth range in the US. If you go through the exercise, it is clear the new models have more in common with the T6 and T4 models than with the T680, T880 and W900 from North America.
Out on the highway the Cummins gets the loaded B-double up to speed quickly and then holds cruising with ease. The highlighted economy band on the tachometer tells me I have to stay between 1,100 and 1,500rpm and it’s easy to get the kind of performance I am looking for within these brackets, gear-changing by ear is a thing of the past.
The climb of Cunninghams Gap is one of those which shows us just how capable a truck is. After hooking into the initial grade, the first surprise is the need to change back up a full gear as the grade eases. This is a 600hp engine with 1850 ft lb of torque on tap and it uses all of them to the max.
Changing gear at 1,200rpm saw the revs straight back up to 1,500rpm and doing it easy. It just kept on pulling, holding close to 70km/h for most of the climb. A perfect run up and over the top, and a chance to see how well the torque pulled on the last steep click on the Gap, was baulked in the last 500 metres by a slow B-double with an ageing prime mover struggling on the steeper grade, it was down into the bottom box. Perhaps, next time.
The single windscreen is one of those indicators of US influence and all of the launch trucks are fitted with them. However, the split windscreen has not gone away and Kenworth promise it will appear sometime soon. The question has to be, is the single windscreen really a step too far?
The big issue for the truck designers, and one which they have carried off with some aplomb, is creating a conventional truck which fits into the B-double dimension brackets and also has enough living space for the driver.