REVIEW: UD Quon GW 26420 truck

By: Matt Wood

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NFM reviewer Matt Wood took a 420hp UD Quon for an 880 kilometre round trip from Sydney to Dubbo the Central West of NSW and back again.

The UD Quon has been the top selling Japanese truck over 350hp for the last 7 years running in Australia.

That being said, it’s also fair to say that this part of the market isn’t exactly brimming with competition or big numbers.

I decided to challenge the notion that a Japanese manufacturer can’t make a decent heavy duty truck.

Being a part of the Volvo group has had its advantages for the East Asian outpost of the Volvo Empire and the Quon has gained a Volvo group sourced 11 litre engine and transmission package to give the utilitarian heavy a level of sophistication that has been lacking in the model to date.

While the engine may have Scandinavian roots it is actually assembled in Japan at UD’s factory in Ageo, Japan.

 

UD QUON GW 26420 ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

UD Quon GW 26420 Engine

In Australia the Quon is available in both 11 and 13 litre guise. The ageing GE13 engine is based on a Nissan Diesel design that can trace its roots all the way back to Hino.

The 470hp 13 litre Quon has been faithfully dragging B-doubles around our capital cities for a while now.

 The 13 litre relies on Eaton for transmission duties with a choice of either manual Road Ranger or Autoshift.

Launched last year, the GH11 has its roots entirely in Volvo Powertrain and is backed by the 12-speed ESCOT-5 automated transmission, which is essentially Volvo I-shift.

This gives the Quon a proprietary integrated driveline for the first time, power ratings range from 380hp to 420hp with torque peaking at 1476 lb/ft (1990Nm) at 1800rpm.

The GH11 uses Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) to handle emissions, which means it need AdBlue as well.

A four stage engine brake means that the truck now does more than just make farty noises out its exhaust when going downhill; it actually provides retardation as well.

The 11 Litre Quon range is available in wheel bases ranging from 3.9 metres on air bags (CW 26380), 4.4 metres on steel 6 rod (CW 26380) and 6.5 metres on air (GK17 420) and all are standard with the new AMT ‘box.

This leaves the GW 26470 at the top of UD’s horsepower tree in Australia with the GE13 engine.

We stayed in Dubbo overnight before heading back to Sydney.

What was interesting was the fuel economy that the Quon managed, just over 2.2km/litre, which is pretty respectable considering the weight and terrain, and the fact that I kept fiddling with stuff like the transmission.

 

UD QUON GW 26420 PERFORMANCE

UD Quon GW 26420 1

The drive to Dubbo and back over the Blue Mountains is to give me a mix of city traffic, steep mountain climbs and descents as well as some good old fashioned country highway driving.

However, both the route taken and the weight carried are not the norm for this spec of prime mover so we had in effect pushed the UD into a heavier and more demanding role than it would usually carry out.

The Quon is pulling a loaded single trailer which gives a gross weight of 38 tons.

As I rolled along the streets of Sydney’s inner west it’s easy to see why the Quon has made so many metro friends.

Visibility is great with mirror shrouds kept to a minimum size, and it handles well around town.

The steering feels very direct and it gives you a sense of confidence as you carve through the traffic.

It was easy to forget the Quon’s modest displacement at times, though the engine braking department was found wanting on a few occasions.

The first real test of the GH11 was descending the pass on the Western side of Mount Victoria.

This grade is a really tough test of heavier metal than our Quon, however a shift into manual mode and selection of the appropriate gear made sure our descent was a controlled one.

The four stage engine brake helped keep slow things down as well, but the modest size of the Scandinavian donk underneath meant that a few stabs of the brake pedal were needed to keep the tacho needle from getting too high.

 

UD QUON GW 26420 GEAR

The gear shift uses a traditional stick and H pattern but only requires a shift to the left then a forward movement to select a forward gear.

As it’s an automated box there’s no clutch pedal and the drivetrain will do the rest as you accelerate.

Pull back on the stick and you’ll get reverse, a small button on the side of the stick lets you select manual mode.

The splitter button on top of the gear stick allows you to select whether you want the tranny to change up in whole gears or to split each one.

On level ground I might opt for the whole gear function but really giving the transmission a chance to grab the right gear every time is the best way to go performance wise.

Once out on the highway towards Bathurst and then Orange the terrain went from divided road to rural highway with plenty of ups and downs in between.

 

UD QUON GW 26420 COMFORT

This is where some of the gloss wears off to a certain extent.

The front end of the Quon seems to be lacking a little finesse in the ride department as it had a tendency to judder and skip on the road surface and it feeds this all back through the wheel.

There were a few rattles and clunks emanating from underneath the dash board at times as the road got a bit bouncier.

The air suspended seat rode well but the padding was a bit firm which made for a numb bum after a few hours in the saddle.

 

UD QUON GW 26420: INSIDE THE CAB

UD Quon GW 26420 CONTROLS

Cab dynamics are simple yet pleasant, it’s well laid-out and easy to use; there was very little reason to reach for most buttons.

The ADR42 compliant bunk is only really appropriate for a snooze during the day or to lose your newspaper and sandwiches in.

The four bag Hendrickson suspension on the rear of the Quon stood up well on the rough stuff and provided excellent stability in fact, that’s probably what made the rattle and clunk of the front end stand out so much.

Between the smooth performing and civilized drive train and the well sprung rear end, the average front end ride probably stood out more than it should have.  

Batteries, air tanks and spare tyre are mounted on the cold side of the chassis away from the turbo and exhaust which does help on the maintenance and longevity front.

And, the battery box does have a neat little gantry for walking up onto the catwalk behind the cab to hook up and disconnect the suzy coils.

 

UD QUON GW 26420: REAR ACCESS

The problem with this is that it’s on the left hand side of the truck, and while this may be considered safer, the reality is that many drivers will just try and spring up on to the fuel tank or after treatment box rather than have to walk around the front of the truck which could result in damage to both the equipment and the driver themselves.

A small step and grab rail of some sort on the right hand side of the prime mover wouldn’t go astray.

 

UD QUON GW 26420 ENTERTAINMENT

Like many of its Japanese contemporaries the Quon uses a multimedia touch screen radio unit.

This unit is very easy to use with large icons, heaps of connectivity, and also features Bluetooth streaming, and as the Quon is so quiet on the road it’s one of the few trucks out there that you can use the hands free with any degree of success.

The head unit itself may be fine but the Quon’s speakers are terrible, barely adequate for AM talkback and not up to the task of music.

The tinny, washed out sound from the speakers made it very hard for me to pretend I was 25 years younger and getting my boogie on in a club somewhere.

It’s hard to ‘drop da bass’ when there isn’t any to start with! 

 

THE VERDICT

On the way back to town I considered the Quon’s many talents; it’s smooth, quiet, and punches above its weight when putting power to the ground.

Cab access is easy with plenty of grab rails so you are less likely to plummet to the ground in an undignified manner.

The stereo sound quality is woeful and the driver’s seat gets a bit firm after a couple of hours.

But the new drivetrain behaves extremely well .

When climbing back up Mount Vic it hung onto 6th gear and 1500rpm for most of the climb, much better than I was anticipating.

The Quon is a good prospect for those wanting a robust heavy duty Japanese truck and it will find favor in local distribution, local government, construction and mining fleets as well as agricultural roles.      

As the entry level heavy duty prime mover of the Volvo Empire the Quon makes for great value, in fact I’d go as far as saying that it’s the best Japanese prime mover that I’ve driven to date.

It’s a great performing, cohesive package.

 

UD QUON GW 26420 HITS

  • Great performing engine and transmission package
  • Easy cab access
  • Excellent visibility

UD QUON GW 26420 MISSES

  • Front end doesn’t like rough surfaces at highway speeds
  • Woeful stereo sound
  • No catwalk access on right hand side

 

UD Quon GW26 420 Specifications

Engine: 11 Litre GH11TC with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR)

Power: 308kW (420hp)@1800rpm

Torque: 1990Nm (1476lb/ft) 950-1400rpm

Transmission: 12-speed ESCOT 5 Automated with ESCOT Roll function.

Rear Suspension: Hendrickson HAS460

Final Drive: 4.333:1

Gross Combination Mass: 55,000kg

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UD Quon GW 26420 2 The Japanese word “Quon” means “Eternal flow of time” and I have had to show great restraint and not make anything funny out of that…much...at all. UD Quon GW 26420 2
UD Quon GW 26420 ACCESS Cab access is fantastic, low to the ground and grab handles everywhere. UD Quon GW 26420 ACCESS
UD Quon GW 26420 BADGE The badge may say 420 but it often felt like more. UD Quon GW 26420 BADGE
UD Quon GW 26420 CONTROLS The cockpit is plain but well laid out, the AMT shifter is intuitive to use. UD Quon GW 26420 CONTROLS
UD Quon GW 26420 engine Fuel, Adblue and the exhaust box occupy the right hand side of the chassis, but without a right hand side step drivers are likely to risk climbing over them to get to the suzy coils. UD Quon GW 26420 engine

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