Nothing Too Flashy

The DAF CF85 is one of those trucks that just works – nothing too flashy, but it gets the job done without fuss. This is why we see it in fleets around the country handling the day-to-day tasks. There is no hint of glamour, just a can-do attitude. Anyone who has done a day’s work in one will have found it a truck which functions, as it should, in an uncomplicated way.

By adding in an extra slice of power and taking the rating up to 510hp, DAF has simply made it able to handle heavier tasks in the same way. There has been an ongoing tendency for trucks to get more power year on year – there is now a 4×2 rigid available on the Australian market with 350hp under the shed. The decision to add 510hp to the CF85 seems small beer by comparison.

What this change does accomplish is the ability of a smallish, low tare truck to run around pulling fully loaded B-doubles all day with comparative ease. The industry doesn’t think 460hp is enough to haul B-doubles any more and DAF has moved to meet the market.

So, finally, the CF85 has got a bit of oomph. Diesel News was champing at the bit to get a go in the truck with the new engine. The CF has long been a favourite, due its simplicity, ease-of-use and comfortable no-fuss design inside.

The test run took the truck and a loaded single trailer out onto the only hilly road leaving Melbourne – the Western Freeway, going out to Ballarat and back into the city. But first, the truck needed to be tested in its natural environment, the industrial estates and transport depot hub around Laverton, Altona, Derrimut and Sunshine.

Taking the truck out on the road demonstrates the real strength of this design decision. The truck is a genuinely smooth performer, coupling a 510hp engine with a 16-speed ZF AS Tronic AMT makes for seamless, fast changes up through the ratios, accompanied by a gentle murmur from the engine compartment.

This is where the truck’s strengths lie. The driver is low down and can see all around the truck and this all round visibility is vital in this area, trucks seem to appear from everywhere. Being in a lower cabin also means it is more difficult for the cars darting in and out of the truck to get lost from view

The other strength of this truck which comes into play in an area like this is the AMT. Travelling through this area is constant stop and go. If it isn’t the traffic lights against you, it’s a queue at each and every one of the countless roundabouts. The AS Tronic was designed for just this type of situation – simply set the gearbox to drive and it will do the rest. Gentle pressure on the accelerator makes for a smooth and seamless journey, up and down the ratios as the traffic stops and then gets going again.

Then, when a bit more oomph is needed, the driver simply pushes harder on the pedal, gets the kick down and the 510hp (375kW) and, more importantly, 2,500Nm (1,850 ft lb) or torque come into play.