IVECO’S EUROCARGO BRINGS CLEANER AND GREENER CREDITS TO THE MEDIUM-DUTY MARKET.
One thing is for sure – the new Euro 6 version of IVECO’s Eurocargo medium-duty range of trucks is a very smart looking piece of machinery. The revised grille of the updated Euro 6 model, along with standard fit LED daytime running lights as part of the headlights, further adds to the visual appeal in an otherwise crowded segment.
The Eurocargo has occupied a unique place in the medium-duty truck market in Australia over a number years, taking one of the key pillars of the Japanese truck manifesto (pricing) and the strong point of differentiation of the European medium truck offerings from the likes of MAN, Mercedes-Benz and Scania – namely driver comfort and safety. So, with Japanese-like pricing and European levels of comfort, IVECO has had a strong tool with which to hit the market. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want European levels of driver comfort (and not to mention safety) along with the pricing advantage the Japanese offerings have typically had over their European counterparts?
The standard warranty offering from IVECO on the Eurocargo is three years/250,000 km, which is pretty standard across the industry in this class of truck. However, a nice touch from IVECO is the option to extend that warranty (with an additional cost), out to five years and 500,000 km. This would be an ideal choice for most (new) truck owners, as, generally, the majority of operators can own the truck over its five-year finance term, along with the added peace of mind of warranty throughout that period.
Whilst 500,000 km may not sound a lot for a busy truck, given the type of working life of this class of truck, which typically carries out metro distribution and regional deliveries, it provides a solid foundation for any business decision. Another nice touch for owners is IVECO’s range of fixed-price maintenance plans on offer. This appeals to owner/drivers and large fleets alike, as they can fully factor in the cost of maintenance across the life of the truck, without hidden surprises!
A popular role for operators purchasing this class of truck is for the transportation of boats, caravans and water tanks across the continent. Due to the limited size of the bunks in the Japanese variants, the European counterparts with their full-size bunks, high-roof options and other creature comforts stand out for this type of work.
There is a drawback in that the ML180 is not classified to tow a trailer unless engineering approval is obtained from IVECO, because there is no general GCM rating currently applicable to the driveline. Unless this approval is obtained from the manufacturer, it precludes the ML180 from being considered for towing a pig or dog trailer, which many operations would consider to be essential for cross-continental transport of this type of freight.
The constraint on towing is influenced by the driveline weight rating of the ZF nine-speed synchromesh manual, and Allison’s 3000-Series five-speed automatic. Currently, this area is dominated by Mercedes’ Atego and MAN’s TGM. However, according to the Eurocargo product manager, Paul Hunt, IVECO is currently working on a new automated manual transmission offering from ZF, which will solve this problem and allow IVECO into this important market.
IVECO has managed what many other companies have not achieved when moving to Euro 6 emissions technology – they have got there without EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation).
EGR was almost a swear word for many operators, particularly in the early days of the new emissions technologies, with overheating problems, cracked heads, and increased fuel consumption. Instead, IVECO has made the move to Euro 6 by its HI-SCR system, which combines SCR (AdBlue) and a passive DPF (diesel particulate filter). No doubt this will be a winner with operators, as most of the competitors have had to employ all three methods of emission reduction, namely SCR, DPF and EGR, to meet the reduced levels of emissions and particulate matter stipulated by the Euro 6 regulations. It is worth noting, however, IVECO will continue to offer the Euro 5 variant in tandem to the Euro 6 enabling customers to choose their preference.
Upon opening the door of the Eurocargo and ascending the steps to the cabin, it’s immediately obvious that this truck has the best entry into a cab of any medium-duty truck on the market. The steps are wide, with good tread to reduce slippage, along with a high level of cascading, making each step easily visible when entering and exiting the cab. The grab handles are well placed, and, simply, this truck is outstanding to get in and out of. In a world where ease of operation and driver safety is paramount, the IVECO is likely to be a huge success.
Once in the ISRI air ride driver’s seat, the driver is greeted with a smart, modern looking interior. To adjust the steering column, a lever has to be pulled to the right of the steering column to release it – this lever is very stiff and not easy to operate. During the course of the test drive, the handle actually fell off completely and was found rattling around in the foot well.
The ZF nine-speed manual shift lever is dash mounted, and whilst it’s a good use of space, and makes it easier to move from the driver’s seat into the bunk area, a floor-mounted shift lever is much easier and more comfortable to use.
Driving the IVECO is by all measures a pleasant activity. The noise levels are particularly low, and the new TECTOR 7 engine performs well, with minimal fuss. This 6.7-litre, 24-valve, six-cylinder features high-pressure, common-rail, electronic injection with turbocharging, and in the ML180 it produces 206 kW (280 hp) and 1000 Nm of torque. Dependent on the application, extended oil drain intervals of up to 80,000 km form part of the recommended service schedule.
As noted earlier, the gearshift is light and positive. What is a standout is the clutch operation, which would have to be one of the nicest clutches to use in the market, due to its incremental application and its light pedal weight.
The Eurocargo tested was fitted with the optional ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) and LDW (Lane Departure Warning). To be honest, lane departure warning systems can be quite frustrating and typically result in the operator switching them off. The ACC is a very welcome addition and makes the driving experience much easier as the truck keeps an operator-set, pre-determined distance from the vehicle in front. If that gap reduces, the exhaust brake comes on and the truck will operate the service brake as required to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
Out on the road, the Eurocargo makes its progress easily, with the engine making light work of the load, aided substantially by the wide torque band that keeps gear changes to a minimum.
One apparent problem on extended driving period is the amount of space available in the foot well for the drivers left foot. It would benefit the driver if IVECO could carve a bit more space out of the engine tunnel that intrudes into the area available for the driver’s left foot.
Out on the highway, the ride is somewhat firm. However, it’s not unpleasant to sit in, with the ISRI seat with its many adjustable positions and heating function making the operator comfortable. One frustration was with the heating and cooling system. Due to the ambient temperature of 15 degrees C outside, some slight cab heating was required. However, this was difficult to achieve, as, when moving the rotary heater dial, it wasn’t possible to regulate the heat setting, even one ‘notch’ on the dial changed from either cold or hot, rather than being able to incrementally increase the cab temperature – this become quite frustrating over extended distances.
Overall, the IVECO Eurocargo is an impressive package, and with its smart looks it will appeal to drivers and owners alike. The biggest advantage IVECO is going to have in a highly competitive market segment is the ability to offer similar pricing to the Japanese, alongside European levels of comfort and safety. With both these attributes combined, it improves the chances of the Eurocargo becoming a winner for IVECO in this country.
Positives: Euro 6 without EGR, best cab access on the market (in class), ease of access to daily checks through grill and transparent fluid reservoirs.
Negatives: No GCM available with current trans offerings, harsh ride, left foot room is limited due to engine tunnel interference.