Tailor-made solutions designed to give operators the lowest possible total cost of ownership for the effective life of the vehicle or fleet is a priority for many trucking businesses. Scania, as a truck manufacturer reckons that it has done its utmost in recent years to provide its customers with this kind of solution.
Diesel News Contributor, Paul Matthei drove the P 360 8×2 rigid, which is a great example of this philosophy. Acutely aware of the need to negate the vagaries of early lazy axles, Scania has designed the rear air suspension with a driver-controlled load transfer system that during low speed manoeuvring simultaneously increases the air pressure in the drive bags while decreasing that of the tag bags.
This combined with the standard diff lock is designed to provide sufficient traction in any tricky situation likely to be encountered during regular urban distribution driving.
Blue Mountains Bound
There were certainly no traction issues on the clear sunny day I tested the P 360 8×2 rigid from Scania’s Prestons branch in south west Sydney.
First up, I received a comprehensive rundown on the operation of the P 360 by Scania’s Tony Wall. Tony was a truck owner/ operator for many years prior to his appointment at Scania Prestons and really knows his stuff when it comes to trucks.
After explaining the various functions and features, Tony makes mention of the comprehensive maintenance programs offered by Scania which are tailored to individual requirements and enable owners to accurately ascertain the facts about what Scania call the lowest possible total cost of ownership.
“The maintenance packages Scania offers are exceptional,” says Tony. “A mate of mine just bought a new R 620 with a maintenance package and he knows virtually down to the dollar what he’s going to spend over the next five years. The only variable expenses are tyres and fuel.”
With that it was time to get the tyres turning and the fuel injectors firing (sparingly), and upon negotiating the chicane out of the dealership I was struck by the remarkable manoeuvrability of the 8×2 P 360.
Admittedly, prior to this I hadn’t driven an eight-legger for many moons, I seem to recall needing close to a Titanic-sized paddock to turn the thing around.
Conversely, the P 360 responded swiftly to the tiller, pointing its nose out the driveway onto the road in a fashion that belied the existence of the second steer axle. In fact, during the entire test, from a driver’s perspective it simply felt like I was steering a 6×2.
I put this down to a number of factors: Having one drive axle means under acceleration there is significantly less tractive effort working to push the vehicle straight ahead when the steering wheel is turned.
My second theory is that having air suspension on the steer axles rather than leaf springs may allow for greater wheel cut angles and a correspondingly tighter turning circle.
This is an important factor due to the vehicle’s lengthy 5950mm wheelbase which naturally creates a larger turning circle than a shorter wheelbase would.
It’s also worth mentioning that the rear axle load transfer system is a useful aid during tight low-speed turns as it reduces the scrubbing effect on the tag axle tyres which engenders easier turning and reduced tyre wear.
Before long the P 360 is humming along the M7 northbound with the tacho registering just 1350rpm at 100km/h. In common with other European trucks I’ve driven recently, the sensationally quiet cab interior has to be experienced to be believed. Scania and other European truck brands have made great strides in this regard and the result is close to passenger car noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.
It’s a similar story with the all-round air suspension which delivers outstanding ride regardless of road surface quality. Along with the supple ride comes well controlled damping making for sure-footed cornering and general road poise.