The last few years have seen an increasing heavy duty market share going to European cabover prime movers. That means this is probably just the right time for the Paccar organisation to ensure it has a genuine contender in the part of the market which prefers European trucks. The traditional US dominance is waning and truck buyers are looking for fuel economy and high level safety equipment on board.
There are three cab options in the new DAF XF range. On this test Diesel News took out the middle of the three, and the one most likely to be the top seller. The Space Cab has a raised roof that is high enough for the driver to walk about in the cabin, and has an overall roof height of 3.56 metres. The other cabin options are the Comfort Cab, without a raised roof and a height of 3.26 metres and the much higher Super Space Cab at an overall height of just under four metres.
The bulbous panels on the front of the cabin give it a distinctive look and also help with a much improved aerodynamic performance. There is an improved design of the sun visor which is claimed by DAF to also improve fuel consumption.
The latch to open the front panel on the cabin is inside the door by the steps up into the cabin. This is a security feature. Opening the panel reveals a couple of small panels inserted into the design behind the front grille, which look quite insignificant, but are said to provide incremental help in improving airflow and cooling.
The basic layout is little changed from previous models, but it has improved over every iteration and has a modern look. There are a few giveaways of the older design, the slide out tray at the top of the binnacle has not changed in nearly thirty years.
Two clever and good looking fold out drinks holders on the central binnacle are nothing like as fragile as they are on some trucks. The size is adjustable to take a larger bottle or smaller coffee cup with a an adapter which swings out of the way when not needed.
There’s a slide out fridge under the bunk, with the fridge on one side and a bin on other. There is an option to include a slide out fridge and a separate freezer.
Overall, this is a very easy to drive, smooth riding and quiet, European truck which should be capable of mixing it with its European rivals. It also has the advantage of being sold through the very capable Paccar network.
In the past, this network gave the impression it didn’t quite understand what was going on with the DAF product. However, the combination of increasing truck sales for other European brands and a brand new product which can match them toe-to-toe should be enough of an incentive to get these new models out there and competing hard. In fact early signs in the truck sales figures in the first half of 2020 suggest this is, in fact, the case.
There is also likely to be more to come from DAF here in Australia, especially if market share continues to lift and with a bigger share of the heavy duty market share going to European cabover. The one thing holding the DAF back from total acceptance is that lack of an engine over 13 litres.
On this score, there is a suggestion that Paccar are already considering engineering the ubiquitous Cummins X15 engine into this top of the range prime mover. Add to this the fact that the Paccar AMT used in the Kenworth product here, is already being coupled with the X15 in some applications in the US. We shall wait and see!