Scania’s New Generation R and S-series may have more charisma, but its latest P and L-series have the qualities to deliver on the urban warriors’ inner-city drivability, safety and economy, according to Diesel’s European Correspondent, Brian Weatherley.
Top-weight prime movers have long been the ‘Glamour Boys’ of the truck world, and ever since Scania’s ‘New Generation’ R and S-series appeared in 2016 they’ve attracted plenty of attention. But as we’ve said before ‘man cannot live on prime-mover sales alone’ and it’s the bread-and-butter trucks lower down the weight-range that deliver the goods, in more ways than one.
That’s certainly not lost on the folks in Södertälje, home of the famous Griffin brand. Björn Fahlström, Scania Vice President, Product Management, says the company’s latest P and L-series urban chassis, together with their associated services offerings, represents the fastest-growing segment for the manufacturer. “We’re setting a 40% growth target within the next 3-4 years for this area.”
Diesel recently tried both P and L, and on drivability alone they satisfy at least one of the many challenges faced by urban distribution companies, identified by the Swedish manufacturer, namely how to attract and retain skilled drivers.
But before I tell you how they perform on the street, here’s a round-up of what they are, beginning with P-series. For a start it has more options you can shake a stick at, including six cabs—three day, three sleepers—all 2.5m wide, but with different depths and roof heights, and two new crew-cabs too.
Underneath there are two engines—all-new seven-litre (see tint box) and an updated nine-litre which between them deliver 220 to 360hp with several stops in-between. Close behind are eight, 12 and 14-speed transmissions equipped with Scania’s two-pedal Opticruise automated system. Put that lot together in two and three-axle urban chassis with rear-steer available on the latter and if Scania can’t make it for you, chances are you won’t need it.
Next comes L-series. Think of a P-cab, but moved 550mm forward and lowered by 220mm and you’re there. Its low-mounted low-entry cabin comes with three roof heights—low, normal and high, along with a variety of seating options. It’s Scania’s head-on competitor to the Mercedes Econic, Dennis Elite and Volvo LEC, and is aimed primarily at refuse operators who want a city-friendly truck with a low-height cab with superior direct-vision and easy kerb-side access. Only L-series won’t only being sold as a bin wagon. It’s being promoted as a city delivery truck too and in Blighty Scania has already received enquiries for tipper and prime mover versions. Power is provided by the nine-litre DC09 diesel as in P-series, rated from 280-360hp, along with the same Scania Opticruise transmissions plus a six-speed Allison auto. Typical axle configurations for urban applications are a 4×2 or 6×2 with Scania’s own electrically-steered tag.
So how do they perform on the road? With the latest seven-litre DC07 diesel set to become a popular power choice in P-series with urban operators we first tried out a laden box-bodied P220 18-tonner with a low-roof day-cab, the likely default choice on RHD chassis, above the lowest 220hp DC07 rating coupled to Scania’s GR875 eight-speed box with Opticruise.
Like its larger S, R and G-series stablemates, the P cab’s driving position has been moved 65mm closer to the windscreen and 20mm nearer to the door. Aided by lower window lines, a revised dash and slimmer A-Posts (especially around the interior trim) it ensures excellent all-round vision, which will be a boon to drivers looking to spot pedestrians and cyclists.
Scania’s optional City Safe window on the lower quadrant of the passenger door also offers extra direct vision, though a passenger’s legs or bags can end-up obscuring the view. (With the City Safe window fitted the main door glass can no-longer be lowered.)