Stralis a quiet ride

MY FIRST ever drive in an Iveco Stralis was wa-a-a-y back in 2007, at least a couple of models ago. I was running a B-double from Eastern Creek up to Kempsey as part of a B-double fuel economy comparison. At that stage the UD GW470 was the leader in the fuel stakes, beating the Hino 700 and Mack Trident, even though it had the least horsepower and wasn t really aimed at the interstate B-double market. It also had the gong for the best cab set-up.

But that was before the Stralis had its turn. The biggest Italian impressed from the start, but worried me as I hit the freeway around the Hawkesbury. I found myself adjusting the steering constantly, until the factory driver along for the ride pointed out hat the truck was tracking straight and true – it was just the gusting wind that was catching the tall Iveco cab and making me think the truck was wandering. As soon as I figured that out, all was well and I very quickly settled into what was the most comfortable prime mover I d driven.

The latest model is no less comfortable, but some aerodynamic changes appear to have eased the buffeting I felt back then. Looking closely at the exterior, the Stralis cab doesn t appear to be as aerodynamic as some of its Euro competition. It must be effective though, because on the road there is almost no wind noise, and with a super-quiet engine the only thing to disturb the peace is tyre whine.

The test truck even had an external sun visor and insect screen, neither of which whistled and rattled as they often do. It took me a while to get used to the latest 16-speed ZF transmission. There s a strong indent at about three-quarter throttle, and if I kept it there the truck kept the changes in the green zone between 1000 and 1500rpm, skipping shifts where possible.

But if I pushed through the indent it skipped even more gears while running the revs through a wide range between 1000 and 2100rpm. This new Cursor engine is probably at its limits of 13-litre power and torque at its maximum rating of 560hp and 2300Nm, but the test truck was the 500hp version and had no trouble delivering consistent acceleration right through the working rev range. The auxiliary brake is a two-stage unit operated from the steering column and complements the all-round disc brakes and Wabco E 4-channel ABS with EBL and ASR.

It automatically drops gears when it reads heavier braking is required. Stralis has excellent vision, helped by an electric full width sunvisor and individual side window blinds to manage the early morning or late afternoon glare. The new Stralis is well suited to regional or interstate work where driver fatigue is a critical issue.

Using the left armrest on the driver s seat and resting my right arm on the wide door-sill, I could have driven for many more hours than this relatively short test allowed. My remaining suggestion would be to make sure you have a drive of one before signing on for your next truck. The comfort and quiet will impress anyone behind the wheel, and if you do your own service, the two-year, 500,000km/6000 hours warranty, with 100 percent parts and labour covered will ease past concerns of some operators.

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