If we look at the fundamentals of the Mack Anthem, as it is sold on the North American market, we can also get a good idea of how the innovations will flow out when the model is introduced, down the track, to Australia.
In the US, the Anthem currently comes in three options: a day cab, a 48 inch flat roof sleeper and a 70 inch stand up sleeper. The engine options are the MP7 and the MP8 up to 445hp. The mDrive AMT is number one transmission choice, but a Mack manual, an Allison and a Roadranger are options. In terms of axles and suspensions, the choices remain the same as they have been in the past.
The bonnet no longer uses side straps. Instead, there is a latch mounted under the front of the bonnet. Simply release it and then tug on the Mack dog at the top of the bonnet to open up the engine compartment. The wings of the truck are virtually flat-topped and include the very different LED headlights enclosed within the overall shape.
Inside the cabin, the first element of surprise is the flat-bottomed steering wheel. At first it looks and feels odd, but a little bit of experience with it, proves it’s easy to use. The steering wheel itself now includes a number of switches and buttons, such as cruise control, radio and phone. It has a more modern styling, but retains the metallic look.
The instrument panel has changed radically with a much more modern styling and a large, clear and useful information screen with all of the vital statistics on show. The two stalks on the steering column are also radically different. There are a lot of functions to handle, but again it is clear and concise.
US truck makers have a habit of hiding the light switches on their dashboards. Not Mack this time. The clearly illuminated switch sits erect and easy to reach just between the steering wheel and the driver’s door. Window and door locking switches adorn the top of the driver’s door.
The rest of the dashboard stays close to the driver. The ergonomics are an improvement on the design of the current models in Australia. The buttons for the mDrive are much closer to the steering wheel. Therefore, if the driver does need to intervene with the transmission, it is quick and precise.
The rest of the controls are well laid out and include the interface with the Mack Connect product. This is an advanced telematics system for monitoring the truck remotely and also able to run diagnostics and update software while on the road.
Once off the road, the rest of the design comes into its own. Stand upright at the wheel and there is plenty of headroom. The overhead lockers at the front of the cabin do not project past the dashboard. Turn around and walk into the sleeper, where the modular storage solutions create an effective home away from home.