It has been a long time coming, but the International ProStar is now on the street in Australia. As the pioneer of the return of International brand to the trucking market, the ProStar model keeps it simple, with only a few specification variations and a no-nonsense set-up.
The ProStar is not a dumbed down truck but it does come with a pretty slim options list. There is only one engine. Luckily, that one option is the Cummins X15, normally rated at 550hp (410kW) and pumping out 2508Nm (1850 ft lb) of torque, but it can be optioned up to 600hp and down to 485 and 525hp.
In the gearbox stakes it’s a very similar situation, Eaton or Eaton. That’s the classic 18 speed Roadranger or its automated manual brother, the Ultrashift Plus. What would a North American driveline be without an 18 speed Eaton in one form or another?
Meritor axles front and back join with a Dana driveshaft and Hendrickson Primaax air suspension to give the model a consistent feel beneath the bonnet and under the chassis. This is a familiar layout to anyone who has looked up from the pit in an Australian truck workshop.
This driver’s initial perception is this really is an American truck and it makes all of the right noises and does all the right things. On the first leg of the test – with the driver’s window down to get the full effect – the driver gets the full big engine brake roar in their right ear as they feel the Cummins engine brake kicking in. Even with the windows shut there’s no doubt it’s a big Cummins under the hood.
The trucks rounded front profile helps with aerodynamics and there is a good slope on the bonnet, which makes for improved visibility. If you can’t see the bonnet then you can see pedestrians in front of the truck. Even with this drooping bonnet, International have still managed to get the cooling system set up with the charge air cooler sitting on top of the 1000 square inch radiator, so everything is getting fresh air.
Climbing into the truck in the first place, the door only opens to 60 degrees, less than we would normally expect. International explain this is part of a deliberate design to make the handles on the door part of the three points of contact when climbing up in.
As with many North American trucks the engine cover was originally designed to suit left hand drive and can impinge on the right hand driver’s left foot. The updated engine cover fitted is OK, in terms of foot space, with Ultrashift and no clutch, but it would probably still be a little tight with a clutch fitted in the space.
One of the aspects of this design is relatively new to Australia and this is the ADEPT powertrain technology that can be included in the package when an Ultrashift is specified. This sees drivetrain technology moving to another level.
Much improved data communication sees the driveline delivering quicker, more precise and fuel saving gear changes plus better engine brake performance, when both the transmission and engine work together to maximise retardation.
It was this improved feedback between the engine and transmission that struck this driver in the first few minutes of the test drive. There is a lot more thinking going on behind the scenes so the driver doesn’t have to intervene so often to get good engine braking or feather the accelerator to get an even and fuel efficient acceleration when fully loaded.