A test drive of an Iveco prime mover demonstrates the simple Stralis instrumentation strategy. Driving a modern truck involves a lot of time watching flickering LCD screens in the cabin. The Iveco Stralis cab design is 14 years old, it was quite a futuristic looking truck when first launched, but in the intervening time the look has matured.
The dash is interesting and, at its centre, is, probably, the LCD screen which is easiest to see and understand, on the Australian market. The images are clearly visible, even in direct sunlight. The controls do not confuse with too many options, either.
Top right hand corner tells us which gear we are in. Then you get the mode you are in and how many gears up or down can be accessed manually. In the middle is more general information. If the radio is on it will tell you the station.
To the left of this are the two speed limiter and cruise control figures. Cruise control is set on a right hand stalk, press the button to activate and then use the up and down buttons on the end of the stalk to control the set speed, simple.
The layout of the screen can be changed to suit the driver. A fuel consumption read-out would be useful. It shows the basics like oil pressure etc. Unlike the LCD screen, the speedo and tacho do not have the clear visibility in bright sunshine. Sometimes it can be quite difficult to see speed with a quick glance.
While the design of the cab exterior has aged well since its initial launch in 2002, the controls on the dash board do look a little dated and clunky, they do not seem to have been modernised. The space inside the cabin is tall, but not very deep. Locker space is well designed and other storage is quite good. More space would always be useful, but European prime movers all suffer from the same dimension restrictions in European law.
There are no frills with the Stralis, all of the sophistication is out of sight. The simplicity of some of the controls mean Iveco have restrained themselves to only having five buttons on the top of the driver’s door. This is much less than any other European truck on the market.
Climbing in and out of the cab is simple with well placed steps and grab handles with some thought going into their positioning. A lot of the features have been set up precisely, the seats are comfortable and the cabin is air suspended with well-adjusted dampers on the rear.
The mirror position controls are a smart solution to a problem every truck brand solves in a different way. Press the button and on the dash LCD screen appears an image of the front of the cab with one of the four mirrors highlighted. Click away until the correct mirror is found and use the single adjustment button to position it correctly.
The climate control system is easy to use, with bright numbers telling the driver what it is set to. There is a very useful pocket above the radio, which just so happens to be the perfect size to hold the Australian work diary. It was probably designed to take a laptop, but finding a place to keep the diary handy and secure can often be problematic in the modern truck.
The radio controls are simple and straight forward. This design sums up the whole truck. The designers have thought about it and reduced complications in the controls of, what is, a sophisticated device.
Steering wheel adjustment can be activated by pressing a button on the floor, not obvious to this driver when a different mat has been placed under foot, we got there in the end. The drinks holder does not appear to be either as big or robust as many drivers would like.