Dave Whyte




The role of rigid trucks has grown dramatically over the last ten years, with many factors contributing to that popularity. While interstate drivers used to spend their day running around town doing deliveries and pick-ups before heading out again, the multi-drop local task is now, in most cases, completed using smaller trucks.

With access to customer sites also getting tighter, the 10 to 14-pallet rigid has proven to offer decent carrying capacity along with the manoeuvrability required to service the role. Traditionally, the Japanese manufacturers have had a stronghold on this market, but increasingly we are seeing the European manufacturers making up ground.

The Eurocargo E6 is the latest offering from Iveco in the 12 to 18-tonne GVM rigid marketplace, offering all the latest safety and emissions technology one might expect from a Euro manufacturer. As the badging suggests, the Eurocargo E6 is Euro 6 compliant, with Iveco choosing to take the step well before it becomes mandatory in Australia.

There are three models in the new Eurocargo range, ranging from 12-tonne to 18-tonne GVM, and all are powered by the same 6.7-litre Tector 7 six-cylinder engine. In the 12-tonne variant, the ML120, this engine produces 250 hp (185 kW) and 850 Nm (627 lb-ft) of torque, but the two heavier models – the ML160 and ML180 – get a power boost up to 280 hp (206 kW) and 1000 Nm (738 lb-ft). A choice of transmissions is available across all models, with a nine-speed ZF manual as standard and a five-speed Allison automatic available as an option.

All models use Iveco’s unique Hi-SCR system, which eliminates the need for EGR through the use of a passive DPF and AdBlue, to achieve the Euro 6 rating. This works by increasing the combustion temperature (through deletion of EGR), which results in reduced particulate matter. The increased exhaust gas temperature is then sufficient to burn off the particulate matter that is trapped in the DPF, while the AdBlue takes care of the NOX levels. All of this takes place in the same muffler unit, taking up less space on the chassis and reducing tare weight. It also eliminates any issues caused through the use of EGR.

Rear air suspension is also standard across the range, with the ML120 offering a two-bag setup while the heavier models are fitted with a four-bag system. Interestingly, all models have dual height levelling valves, one each side of the chassis. This is a great feature, especially in the multi-drop role where removing a pallet from one side can make the vehicle lean to the heavier side. Anyone who has driven a truck in this situation will know how uncomfortable this can be. With this system, the truck will remain level under uneven load conditions, improving overall vehicle stability and keeping the remaining freight in an upright position.

Other safety equipment available on the Eurocargo includes disc brakes all around, with ABS, ASR (traction control), ESP (stability control) and active emergency braking. Lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control are also available as an option across the model range. The driver also gets an airbag, and daytime running lights are fitted as standard.

The latest Eurocargo cab takes on a new look, but retains a distinctly Iveco look about it. The front grille panel is easily accessed for daily checks, and improved grab handles below the windscreen make cleaning the glass a simple affair. The external sun visor has been removed, with a “diffusing strip” being added to the windscreen in its place. This is similar to the blue strip across the top of a car windscreen, and provides the same level of shading as the old plastic visor would have without the associated wind noise. It also improves the aerodynamics of the cab, along with a number of other aero improvements. These include new front corner panels, aimed at keeping the lower door and door handle clean in wet conditions.

Three cab variants are on offer, with a standard day cab, low-roof sleeper and high-roof sleeper cab available on all models. All sleeper cabs come with full curtains, a reading lamp in the bunk and plenty of extra storage space, including an external toolbox-style compartment.

While many buyers won’t be looking for the sleeper-cab configuration, it does make the model more attractive to those who work longer-distance roles, such as removalists. The day cab has a spacious feel about it, with good storage, plenty of USB and cigarette lighter style power outlets and a number of places to put your coffee cup. The optional Central Office Box, which sits in the place of the centre seat, adds to the storage space, and includes additional USB and power outlets. All cabs sit on four-point spring suspension and come with electric cab tilt for easy access to the engine bay.

The layout inside the cab is neat and clean, with easy to read and reach controls. The driver is treated to an ISRI air-suspended and multi-adjustable seat, with the option of having the same on the passenger’s side. The dash layout is clear and simple, with a good view through the steering wheel to all gauges. A large multifunction touchscreen media system, which incorporates the audio, sat/nav and reversing camera display is also fitted as standard, with audio controls built into the steering wheel. Vision is excellent, with plenty of mirrors to assist in the tight spots.

I recently had the opportunity to drive two Eurocargo E6 models – an ML160 with the Allison automatic transmission and an ML 180 with the nine-speed manual gearbox – at an Iveco drive event that took in various road conditions around the Mornington Peninsula, south east of Melbourne.

The first thing to strike me was the ease of entry into the cab, with wide doors and only two steps up to the cab. This is important when you are getting in and out many times a day, and not only makes life easier, but also safer. Good step positioning also made it simple to exit the cab, with the steps being easy to see, and spaced so as not to scrape your shins on the way down. Getting comfortable in the cab is facilitated by the controls available on the seat, plus the adjustable steering column that allows plenty of scope for drivers of all sizes to feel at home.

The Tector 7 provides smooth and ample power, with very low noise levels in the cab. Both the automatic and manual transmissions made good use of the available power, with the silky smooth auto working well with the engine brake to provide the right gear for retardation when required. The manual was a full synchromesh transmission, and took very little time to get acclimatised. The shift was short and sharp, providing a quick gear change and good acceleration from a standstill. With only 5.0 tonnes on the back, the ML180 was far from fully loaded, but second gear made for a good launch off the lights with plenty in reserve for a heavier load. First gear wasn’t used at all during my drive, but would likely come in handy on an uphill start with a good load on board.

Overall, the Eurocargo E6 performed well in all conditions, which included some local roads, freeways and urban streets. The fact that both models were just as comfortable on the freeway as they were in urban areas showed that they are not limited to one role and really highlighted the model versatility. With Euro 6 as standard on the range, it would also seem that the Eurocargo has the environmental credentials to satisfy the big fleets, many of which are now starting to rate environmental impact very highly in their purchasing decisions.