In recent years the European tipper and dog sales growth has eaten into the US trucks’ dominance in the tipper and dog market following its growth in market share in prime mover sales. Hence, at Brisbane Truck Show last year both Scania and MAN had a 6×4 tipper prominently on display.
As a result we have the Scania XT range and similar sub-ranges across its European competitors. They all feature higher clearance in front of the steer axle and beefed up suspensions, plus other extras which the construction industry prefer.
As you would expect, out on the highway this truck is a sophisticated performer. This test involved running out of Sydney to a quarry near Goulburn, loading up with aggregate and returning to the city with the load to see how it goes in real world conditions.
Climbing into the truck is no different, Scania has not gone down the hinged bottom step route for its construction range. Closing the door leaves the driver in a quiet well-sealed environment with the full array of controls and technology laid out in front of them.
Out onto the highway and into the inexplicable stop/go madness in which Sydney specialises, the reason for the European tipper and dog sales growth is obvious, as the truck performs with the poise and calmness we have come to expect from the Swedish truck maker. Once in busy traffic the least stressful strategy is to make use of all the automatic systems.
Active cruise control takes care of the stopping and starting and setting the cruise to 100 km/h means the truck will accelerate up to highway speed when conditions allow. Now is also time to set the overrun control to bring the retarder into play if the truck over-speeds on the downhill stretches.
The lower cabin of the G Series means visibility all round the truck is good, further enhanced by the decision in the latest Scania range to move the driver’s seat closer to the A pillar. The redesign also managed to get the rear view mirrors into positions which minimise the blindspots multiple mirrors can create. Once mirror cameras arrive, as they surely will, this visibility will be enhanced even further.
For a truck tester like Diesel News, there never seems to be time to work out what all of the switches and buttons do. It would take a week of driving shifts and some explanation and instruction to get the most out of this truck.
There are plenty of controls to play with and the driver has a choice between setting up the automated systems to do most of the hard work or can choose to intervene themselves as much as they like.
One of the main changes in the last two years is that automated systems which used to be very useful on long runs on the open highway drives would not be very effective when the trucks were in traffic. This has now changed, with the introduction of active cruise control there is a level of precision and intuitiveness within the system which means that the driver can leave the braking and acceleration in stop-go traffic to the truck itself.
Once the truck arrived at the quarry it was clear this is its natural environment. It was smooth enough on the rougher roads and when a wrong turn found the truck on recently wetted sloping ground, there was nothing to be concerned about. A quick turn and some smart driving on a rutted older track got the truck to its proper loading area and lined up for its load.
In the tipper and dog of old the performance and feel of the truck and dog would change dramatically when fully loaded. An unladen combination which could be jittery, especially when braking, then, when loaded, suddenly become easier to drive, but with a much heavier feel.
In the G500 XT the feel definitely changed, but the steering remained light enough and the load just made acceleration a slower process. Of course, with a combination utilising the latest electronic braking system there is no jittery movements, either when empty or loaded.