REVIEW: Mercedes Benz Arocs truck

By: Matt Wood, Photography by: Matt Wood

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The all-new Mercedes Benz truck range hasn’t officially been released in Australia yet, but MATT WOOD managed to sneak a glimpse of the heavy weight Arocs.

The current Australian Benz line-up has failed to capture much in the way of market enthusiasm. However, changes in the local management team has seen a renewed determination to claw back some of the brand’s past glories. Benz is aiming to reinvent itself as a serious player on the Australian trucking stage.

To prove just how committed Mercedes-Benz Truck and Bus Australia is to creating a new future in the local market, the company is just about to embark on its most comprehensive testing program to date.

Everything is on the table as its stellar truck line-up of Antos, Actros and Arocs are all being put out to selected Australian customers in a testing program that will span more than 12 months in a variety of applications.

The current European line-up consists of versatile and flexible platforms available in a variety of cab widths, lengths and heights.

As this is the start of the testing program, Benz Australia still hasn’t committed to any particular specifications.

I recently got behind the wheel of Evaluation Unit 146, which is a is a 6x4 Arocs prime mover before it was sent out to the back of beyond and the start of its test career.

 

Exterior and built

Mercedes -Benz Arocs -12

Through the matte black body wrap it was still possible to see the toothy grin of the rather distinctive Arocs radiator grille.

This truck has a steer axle that sits further back than the Actros so time will tell how steer axle weights are going to play out, especially with the extra 150kg of the Euro 6 driveline. But it also sits quite a bit higher off the ground.

This particular truck can be equipped to work in roles of up to 170-tonne Gross Combination Mass (GCM) which explains the extra beef of the big Benz banger. So far the local engineering team has been able to get 1,150 litres of fuel on board this truck with the target being 1,300 litres.

 

Engine and Transmission

Under the blacked out cab of the Arocs sits a Euro 6 emissions compliant 16-litre 630hp in-line 6 cylinder HDEP engine. In the new line-up, Benz has replaced the traditional V engine with the Daimler HDEP (heavy-duty engine platform) power plants.

The big six develops 3,000Nm of torque and is equipped with 475kW of engine braking. All of that circular motion gets to the back wheels via a 16-speed PowerShift automated transmission which uses a new dual plate organic clutch.

The claim from Germany is that component life on the new range has been stretched out 20 per cent further than previous models.

Another unconfirmed option is a water-based hydraulic retarder that adds another 400kW of braking power to the engine. More than 800kW of retardation is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

 

Cab

Mercedes -Benz Arocs Cab

The Arocs cab is quite imposing. This is the tallest cab in the range and this one was specced with a BigSpace sleeper cab.

Getting to the cab is a long climb as this cab is significantly taller than any Benz I’ve driven in the past. But once inside the environment is actually quite pleasant.

Euro manufacturers often struggle to provide a decent sized bed, yet this truck has a respectable 750mm-wide mattress that isn’t cut out around the seat. It also flips up to access the external locker boxes from inside the cab.

These Aussie trucks have gained an extra 50mm of cab depth, which makes a world of difference but another interesting feature that’s available on the cab is the completely flat floor.

This makes the cab feel a whole lot bigger than it actually is and of course reduces the risk of tripping over when moving around the cab, which is something I’ve never done … Ever.

There are downsides to a flat floor of course, anything you drop while on the move automatically rolls to the passenger side of the truck.

Mud also has a habit of migrating across flat floors out of the driver’s footwell; this option won’t be for everybody.

 

Controls and features

The Arocs gets a black coloured dashboard as it’s expected to play in the dirt while the Actros will get a classier looking cream coloured one.

This truck also had a rather nifty key fob that can be used to check lights, oil and coolant levels. Though I’d hate to think how much it would cost to replace.

The big Benz uses a push button start to fire the big six into life. Most other controls are fairly intuitive; my only gripe is that the transmission selector is tucked away a little too neatly under the steering wheel spokes. You have to go looking for it and gear selection is a little fiddly.

The only power outlet facing the driver at this point in time is a 24 volt one which won’t be much use in this day and age of devices that need charging on the move. A 12V outlet is currently hidden away on the passenger side of the dashboard.

 

Performance

Within minutes of rolling out of Benz’s Mulgrave headquarters one thing is very clear. This is the most un-Benz like Benz I’ve ever set foot in. The engine sound has a harder edge and had an urgency to it that the big lazy, lugging old V engines never had.

All that torque and horsepower isn’t really getting much use as we only have one loaded trailer on board but the big Benz scoots though traffic quite well. Handling seems firm and the whole cab is reasonably stable in its ride.

The in-line six appears to have better weight distribution than the old V engine, there’s less engine hanging forward of the steer axle. My experience with past Actros drives on public roads has generally seen me steering the cab through peaks and troughs like a yachtsman at sea.

The PowerShift transmission meanders through the various ratios with ease, happy to skip here and there at such a modest weight. This is also the first time I’ve used the Benz Eco-Roll freewheeling function which kicks in nicely when coasting in traffic.

There will be a steel suspension option for those who do want to drag road trains with this beast. And at this stage the trucks still use a hub-reduction drive. A hypoid drive option is currently under development.

We take the Arocs for a drive on some country dirt; this is after all where it’s meant to be driven. The cab seems well insulated with no squeaks or rattles at this early stage in its life. The Benz plants itself nicely on the road with only a little lateral sway in the cab.

The cab itself is clearly divided into work, rest and play areas. The passenger side of the cab has a little fold out desk, the sleeper is just that and the cockpit wraps slightly around the driver’s seat leaving no illusions as to what goes on behind the wheel. Given the height of the cab the view through that big screen is almost panoramic.

But it’s the performance of the driveline that holds my attention the most. Vertical integration in the Daimler family has served this beast well so far and the Arocs is a very different kind of Benz as a result.

Evaluation Unit 146 is being sent off to Western Australia where it will pay its dues in a road train role. Now that’s something I’d like to see.

 

Specifications

Make/model: Mercedes-Benz Arocs 6x4 (not finalized for release)

Engine: 16-litre Mercedes-Benz OM473 Euro 6

Power: 460kW (625hp) @ 1,600rpm to 1,700rpm

Torque: 3,000Nm maximum @ 1,100rpm

Transmission: 16-speed PowerShift automated manual transmission (AMT)

Final drive: 4.33:1

GCM: Up to 170 tonnes (specification and approval dependent).

 

For the detailed report, pick up a copy of New Farm Machinery magazine issue 23, on-sale June 22. 

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Mercedes Benz Arocs 1 The new Benz Arocs is a severe-duty model for roles up to 170 tonnes. Mercedes Benz Arocs 1
Mercedes Benz Arocs 12 It may be under wraps, but the Arocs still has a distinctive shape. Mercedes Benz Arocs 12
Mercedes Benz Arocs AdBlue AdBlue capacity is currently at 130 litres. Mercedes Benz Arocs AdBlue
Mercedes Benz Arocs bed The 750mm wide bed is quite decent for a Euro manufacturer. Mercedes Benz Arocs bed
Mercedes Benz Arocs cab A flat floor makes getting around the cabin easier and provides the illusion of space. Mercedes Benz Arocs cab
Mercedes Benz Arocs fridge There’s a fridge or two. Mercedes Benz Arocs fridge
Mercedes Benz Arocs interior The all new interior is still very Benz, the transmission selector is now mounted on the steering column. Mercedes Benz Arocs interior
Mercedes Benz Arocs locker boxes External locker boxes are also accessible from inside the cab. Mercedes Benz Arocs locker boxes
Mercedes Benz Arocs steer axle The Arocs steer axle sit further back than the Actros so steer axle weights may be an issue in some roles. Mercedes Benz Arocs steer axle

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