REVIEW: Cat CT630S B-double truck

By: Matt Wood, Photography by: Matt Wood

Presented by

Cat’s B-double contender is finally here. Matt Wood gets behind the wheel of the new prime mover for a drive up the Newell Highway.

In a world that seems increasingly more and more complex and annoying by the day, the newly launched Cat CT630S from Navistar Auspac (formerly NC2) has a kind of simplicity; and an honesty in its execution I find quite appealing.

The S is the long awaited 26m B-double offering from Australia’s youngest heavy-duty truck brand. The Cat family boasts a slippery shape and as a consequence controversial looks that tend to polarize opinions everywhere they go.

It is also quite light with the extended cab taring off at 8,170kg dry.

This version is equipped with the standard three-leaf spring front end and is riding on a 4,800mm wheelbase, and just to ice the cake it’s also running a 200mm lead-in on the trailer pin.

 

CAT CT630S ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

The engine is a 15-litre C15 power plant that cranks out 550 healthy Caterpillar ponies and a torque figure of 1,850ft-lb (2,508Nm).

The Euro 5 compliant engine doesn’t need exhaust gas regeneration (EGR) or selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to reduce its smog output. In other words, it doesn’t have an exhaust afterburner or need AdBlue.

Clinging to the rear of the 15-litre is an Eaton 18-speed available in either manual or Ultrashift Plus automated manual transmission (AMT) guise.

The 15-litre is a very present yet pleasant soundtrack but not intrusively so and the tune played by the twin choofers out back is unmistakably a Caterpillar song.

 

CAT CT630S CAB

At this point in time the CT630S is available in day cab and extended cab form.

The curvy cab provides excellent visibility, and in the S it’s almost possible to forget there’s a bonnet out front at all. Being a bonneted truck climbing aboard the S is an easy task involving a couple of easy steps.

The interior styling is an acquired taste, but it does have to be said most things are easily reached.

The only niggle in the switch department is the headlight, which is obscured by the steering wheel, but a regular driver would settle in just fine.

Another constant complaint with these trucks for me is the lack of storage near the driver, something I hope will be addressed in the new SC model.

Another whinge would be the single power outlet. In this day and age most drivers would need at least two for charging phones, tablets, laptops etc.

There is some under-bunk storage under the cot but no exterior locker doors, which is another gripe.

Unfortunately the bed floor and locker lid feels a bit cheap and flimsy with quite a few sharp edges and I’ve been bitten by this on more than one occasion.

 

CAT CT630S CONTROLS

Having a gearstick that goes straight into the top of the tranny makes for a very sweet shifting box, especially considering the lazy revving nature of the yellow motor out front.

This also delivers a very easy drive that doesn’t have you watching the tacho.

The premium touchscreen stereo unit in the cab is actually pretty easy to use while on the move.

 

CAT CT630S DRIVE

As the highway deteriorates further, the ride and handling of the Cat comes to the fore.

The steep camber, soft rutted road surface and broken edges of our inland roads can make for a long and tiring trip when wrestling with a soggy riding truck.

Only a handful of heavy-duty trucks really nail a comfortable driving position on crap roads for hours on end.

Most of these trucks have bonnets, and if my drive in the S is anything to go by, the new Cat platform is one of them.

The three-point cab suspension also takes out some of the lateral kick from the road and the air-suspended Gramag driver’s seat did a good job of ironing out jolts from the road surface.

Foot well room is fine for someone of my stature but others may find the lack of room for their left foot a bit of an issue.

 

CONCLUSION

With the sun sinking below the horizon we roll down Cunninghams Gap with the Jake brake thundering.

On the descent and not for the first time during the trip, it really hits me just how easy and uncomplicated this truck is to drive.

It may be asking for a level of driver engagement some may not be prepared to give anymore, but it is a rewarding bit of gear to operate nonetheless.

It’s astonishing really that Cat has been able to come up with a truck seemingly so at home on Aussie roads in such a short period of time. 

For the detailed test report, look out for NewFarmMachinery magazine issue 13, on-sale September 8. Subscribe to the magazine to never miss an issue.

Find Cat trucks for sale.

Look up Cat trucks specifications.

Cat CT630S 1 The Cat family share underpinnings with the Navistar ProStar. A light tare weight makes the CT630S attractive for bulk applications. Cat CT630S 1
Cat CT630S interior Interior styling isn’t my cup of tea but it is functional. Cat CT630S interior
Cat CT630S 4 The S kept its cool while climbing, though the Horton fan was pretty savage when it kicked in. Cat CT630S 4
Cat CT630S bonnet Visibility is excellent for a bonneted truck; you can even see pretty flowers on the road side. Cat CT630S bonnet
Cat CT630S descent The old school Jake brake performed well and sounded the part running down Cunninghams Gap. Cat CT630S descent

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook