Pulling B-doubles From Sydney to Melbourne

pulling B-doubles from Sydney to Melbourne

The new Scania models are now in Australia, and Diesel News tried out a couple of the new models on a drive, with the Scanias pulling B-doubles from Sydney to Melbourne. This is a route over which many of the new models will ply their trade, and it has the right combination of undulation and flat running to get a feel for how the new trucks perform.

The trucks tested were: a G Series with a 500hp 13-litre power plant pulling a B-double at around 55 tonnes gross combination mass (GCM), and an R620 with the V8 16-litre on board, this time loaded up to 61.5 tonnes. Both engines are Euro-5 compliant.

Out on the highway, while the driver is playing with the buttons, adjusting following distances and the point at which the retarder kicks in, the driveline is burbling almost imperceptibly below the cab. This is where we have come to, a point where we don’t have to take much notice of the driveline, as it can look after itself. However, the 16-litre V8 still sounds and feels like a V8, there is something about that sound!

As it is with the seamless integration of control systems, so it is with the integration in the engine compartment. The gearshifts on the latest version of the Opticruise automated manual transmission (AMT) are barely noticeable. The power and torque are smoothly – and seemingly effortlessly –transmitted to the drives. 


pulling B-doubles from Sydney to Melbourne


On this test drive, the R Series’ 620hp 16-litre V8 has 3,000Nm (2,213 ft lb) of torque available from 950rpm all the way to 1,400rpm. In fact, the revs rarely got above 1,400rpm. If the truck buyer prefers the Euro-6 version, the power rating will be 650hp and the torque is pushed up to 3,300Nm, between 950 and 1,350rpm.

When climbing hills, the system lets revs die down below 1,100rpm before grabbing a gear. This is probably 100rpm below the point at which many drivers would make the change. Of course, the Opticruise knows how much torque is in its back pocket and acts accordingly. 

The smaller prime mover, the G Series with the 500hp 13-litre, pushes out 2,550 Nm (1,881 ft lb) of torque and it handled the rolling country from Sydney to the Victorian border with aplomb. Driving in tandem with the more powerful 16-litre, it lost very little time to its big brother on the road.

Where the difference in power came into play, to a certain extent, were long downhills where the brakes needed to be applied more often, and on short sharp climbs where the transmission rushed to find the lower gears. This is no more than would be expected from the gap in power and torque. 


pulling B-doubles from Sydney to Melbourne


Cab Interior

On the dashboard we have the now obligatory entertainment/navigation system. The touch screen makes it easy to switch between modes. The controls for the air conditioning look good with a modern crisp LCD image telling the driver what’s going on.

The park brake control can also be used as a hand-piece in the event of an emergency. It knows the truck is in drive mode, so it acts like a trailer brake, or it knows the truck is parked and acts as a handbrake. There are also functions like hill hold, lane departure warning and the like.

The AEB system uses a forward-facing radar to identify vehicles in front of the truck which are getting too close, too quickly. It starts to function at over 15 km/h and will start with a collision warning, followed by brake applications which are sufficient, if not necessary, to bring the truck to a halt.

It is normal, these days, to have an array of buttons on the steering wheel. On the new Scania trucks we have radio controls, telephone answering, cruise, adaptive and descent controls, plus the buttons to access the large LCD screen directly in front of the driver.

The stalk on the right-hand side of the steering column controls braking and retarding functions. Brakes can be blended, the retarder can be pulled on to one of five scaling positions. On the end of the stalk is the manual button. Press this and the lever can be pushed up and down to make gear changes. Twisting the stalk takes the transmission from park, to drive, to reverse, to neutral. 

The Scania designers have broken a world record for the number of switches on a driver’s door. Not only are there switches for window opening, mirror adjusting/heating and central locking included, but also all of the switches for the truck’s lights. It’s quite an array.


pulling B-doubles from Sydney to Melbourne