The DAF CF85 has been the most successful DAF model brought into Australia in the past twenty years by Paccar. It is also successful for the company in Europe. The size and shape of the truck fit neatly into a lot of intrastate or around-town type applications. The truck is simplicity itself to drive, climb in and out of and get into tight corners – and it doesn’t look bad at all.
The driver position is just right – far enough forward to make every area around the truck visible, with all of the controls are close at hand and easily accessible. The driver sits low in the cabin surrounded by the instruments and controls, with a complete view around them. There’s even a small under-bunk fridge accessible to the left hand from the driver’s seat.
The ride itself is as one would expect from a truck that succeeds well in Europe and is brought into Australia by an organisation that has engineered a good ride into the Kenworth range. This truck sits down well on the road and gives the rider just enough feedback and plenty of comfort.
Of course, the sheer size of this cabin does come with some restrictions. The high engine cover makes getting out of the seat and accessing the rear bunk a bit of an exercise. The roof feels low when trying to move about in the cabin – there is storage space under the bunk and overhead, but not a lot.
This cabin design does give the truck some advantages, mainly a tare mass 480kg below that of the bigger, bulkier XF 105 at the top of DAF’s range. There you have it, a truck with a big enough heart to pull a B-double, but capable of an increase in payload closing in on half a tonne.
It is possible to see this truck as a tipper and dog with a four- or five-axle trailer, also a fuel tanker with a 19-metre B-double in the local servo, or perhaps delivering full loads of steel around sites in regional areas. The flexibility of its size, tare and power make it one of those trucks that will fit the bill in a large number of applications.
Playing with the buttons
Heading out onto the highway in a modern truck gives this driver an opportunity to just play with the buttons – it’s often the only way to find out what they do. One button activates the hill-start aid, to stop the truck trolling back at the countless traffic lights in the Sunshine/Altona area.
Next we have the array of six buttons on the steering wheel, two on the left control the Bluetooth-connected phone and the other sets descent speed using the engine brake. The three on the right are for the cruise control and prove to be simple to use. On the top of the drivers door we have five buttons controlling windows, mirrors and central locking.
One of DAF’s great ideas, at an early stage, was the controller for the data screen and system. It has remained unchanged in the DAF product for over fifteen years and has now migrated across to the latest Kenworths here in Australia. It is simply a round knob on the dash near the left hand. Just turn the knob to scroll up and down and then press to select.
This controls what drivers can see on the small LCD screen right in front of them. What we see here is also simple and straightforward; no complex menus, just clear concise lettering in a large font. The transmission controller is similarly unfussy, simply a dial twisted around to move from neutral to drive, reverse, etc.
This is not a glamorous truck, and if you want pizazz, go elsewhere – that is not what a DAF CF85 is all about. However, if you want something to do the job with a certain amount of ease and comfort, then it is certainly worth a look.