Iveco Eurocargo E6: Review

Rod Chapman


Iveco Eurocargo E6: Review

A range of thoughtful updates keep Iveco's latest Eurocargo on the pace…

Iveco's medium-duty Eurocargo E6 first appeared in Europe a few years ago, and now the Italian-made product has finally made it to our shores – and with much more than a cleaner, greener, Euro 6-compliant engine.

Introduced to Australia's motoring media at Iveco Australia's Melbourne headquarters, Iveco Product Manager Marco Quaranta outlined the comprehensive raft of updates the Eurocargo has undergone, before the assembled press jumped in for a drive down the Mornington Peninsula.

Headlining the model update is the arrival of the new 'Tector 7' engine, a 6.7-litre straight-six turbo-diesel that relies solely on selective catalytic reduction to achieve its Euro 6 rating. This means it runs cooler than a typical EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) system, and requires no manual burns as may be the case with trucks fitted with a diesel particulate filter.

In fact, Iveco came up with its own take on SCR to produce a system covered by eight patents. While company executives didn't go into great detail about its operation, the HI-SCR system, as it's known, relies on combustion at a higher temperature to raise fuel efficiency and reduce particulate matter. It's also said to remove 97 per cent of harmful Nox gases.

The bottom line, says Iveco, is lower fuel consumption and greater simplicity – it's a maintenance-free system and it doesn't require an extra cooling pack.

The engine itself, now boasting an extra 800cc in capacity, is available in two power ratings, as follows:

• 250hp at 2500rpm, 850Nm from 1250rpm to 2050rpm

• 280hp at 2500rpm, 1000Nm from 1250rpm to 1950rpm

Two transmission choices are available – a standard ZF nine-speed synchromesh manual or an Allison 3000 Series automatic – as are a total of three models, the ML120, ML160 and ML180 spanning 12t, 16t and 18t GVMs. The model is only available in a 4x2 format.

It should be noted that these Euro 6 models are available now, but the older Euro 5 Eurocargo will continue to be sold, and will transition to the new-look cab.

Euro style

Looking beyond the engine and driveline and there's still plenty to talk about. Most obviously, the Eurocargo E6 benefits from a restyling exercise, with new headlights and fog lights accentuated by a new grille and new air deflectors. Improved aerodynamics is the result, as is a far more modern, sophisticated-looking package.

Step inside the Eurocargo in either day cab or sleeper form and you'll be greeted by an appreciably more inviting cabin with a greater emphasis on driver ergonomics. And once on the road, drivers can take some comfort in knowing that the new Eurocargo now boasts an extensive and comprehensive list of safety features.

Most notably, the truck now comes with autonomous emergency braking as standard, in addition to anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, traction control, stability control, hill hold assist – even lane departure warning and adaptive (radar) cruise control.

The inclusion of autonomous emergency braking is a welcome safety net, the system using a forward facing radar to pick up any impending collision, before braking to avoid or at least mitigate the accident.

The arrival of yet another medium-duty truck with stability control as standard is also good news – surely we'll see more manufacturers following suit in the near future, and truck fatalities will fall as a result.

In producing the Eurocargo E6, Iveco says it's directed plenty of effort into maximise payload, developing a wide range of ex-factory solutions for various applications and lowering TCO (total cost of ownership). The new engine is a big part of the latter, from its efficiency gains to its oil change intervals of up to 80,000 kilometres.

Into what roles will it be pressed? Metro and inter-city work, and anything from general freight to refrigerated, tilt tray, crane truck work and more. The Eurocargo E6 was crowned International Truck of the Year 2016 so it reaches us with an impressive CV. How will it fare here? Let's jump in and take a closer look…

How's it drive?

While our drive was only brief, it did at least provide a good initial taste of the Eurocargo E6 over a good range of roads, from flat and flowing freeways to slow, undulating single carriageway.

Two examples of the Eurocargo were on hand – an ML160 with 280hp engine in a day cab format, and an ML180 with the same 280hp engine in a sleeper cab (with high roof option).

Both trucks were loaded with approximately 4.6 tonnes, which equates with 55 per cent and 61 per cent of their GVMs respectively, and both came in a tautliner format. With a wheelbase of 6570mm, the day cab Eurocargo can accommodate up to 14 pallets, says Iveco.

Having previously driven the Eurocargo-based Honda Racing Team's race transporter from Melbourne to Jimboomba, Queensland, for the opening round of last year's national Supercross championship, I was eager to see how the model had improved.

That particular Eurocargo was a faithful workhorse, and one that was pushing the upper limit of its payload on trips all around the country, but the cabin was quite basic and the features list wasn't exactly lengthy.

What a difference then, in this new model. Access is still easy, courtesy of a wide-opening door and two low and large footsteps, while finding the correct driving position poses no problem thanks to the multi-adjustable ISRI driver's air suspension seat.

The large and chunky steering wheel has some integrated controls for the audio and Bluetooth and in general all the various controls are easy to reach and logically laid out.

The lane departure warning sounds an audible alert should the vehicle stray from its lane and we're happy to say we didn't put the autonomous emergency braking to the test. Nice to know it's there, though, like all various other safety systems…

Gutsy performer

On the road the Eurocargo's Tector 7 engine delivers gutsy, dependable performance. There's a kick-down détente for the accelerator and on some of the Mornington Peninsula's steeper hills this was used to knock it back a cog and maintain steady progress.

This, the most powerful engine rating, also sees 1000Nm delivered between 1250rpm to 1950rpm, providing an exceptionally broad spread of grunt.

The Eurocargo already has some solid credentials when it comes to fuel economy but we'll have to wait until we spend some more time in the newcomer before we arrive at any solid figures, although by the day's end the trip computer was reading 3.0 kilometres per litre.

The ride itself is nicely compliant, with the load riding on parabolic front springs and four rear airbags, the latter with electronic adjustment.

The braking took some getting used to. The service brakes are a bit spongy and it takes a little longer to pull up than you might initially think. However, they're adequate nonetheless, and the three-stage exhaust brake adds a good amount of extra assistance.

The Allison five-speed auto is child's play, and offers automatic or manual shifting to suit the prevailing conditions.

All-round vision is excellent, and aided by a comprehensive suite of mirrors (including a kerb observation mirror), while only a light touch is required on the wheel thanks to the responsive steering.

Add in the impressively quiet ambient noise levels in the cab and this is a comfortable place to be, whether you're tackling multi-drop distribution work around town or eating up the kays on an interstate run.

We particularly like the centre console unit, that has a 20-litre capacity and includes laptop/tablet storage, a reading light, a workspace and two USB connectors, the latter complementing the USB outlet behind the central radar unit and a 12-volt outlet. There were no USB outlets on the previous Eurocargo, indicative of that platform's age.

Hopping from the ML160 to the ML180, the extra space of the sleeper with high roof option was immediately evident. The bunk measures 1900mm long by 605mm wide so it's not massive, but with a 95mm-thick mattress it's comfy enough for a night on the road. There's a privacy curtain and a reading light, plus a cab-width overhead shelf for storage.

We liked the test vehicle's ZF nine-speed manual transmissions too. It's an 'H over H' arrangement with a range changer and it works well, also having an audible alarm in case, in a distracted moment, you forget to change to the appropriate range.

Summing up

The new Eurocargo E6 has been a long time coming but now it's here, it gives a diverse range of operators an excellent choice in the medium-duty market.

It brings the safety, comfort and features of a European prime mover into the medium-duty sphere, and if Iveco's TCO claims indeed prove correct, it presents a compelling argument for clever operators seeking an extra touch of class.

2017 Eurocargo E6 ML120 / ML160 / ML180 specifications

Engine: 6.7-litre in-line six-cylinder turbo-diesel

Power: 185kW (250hp) or 206kW (280hp) at 2500rpm

Torque: 850Nm or 1000Nm at 1250rpm

Emissions: Euro 6 via Selective Catalytic Reduction

Transmission: ZF nine-speed synchromesh manual or Allison 3000 five-speed automatic

Configuration: 4x2

Front suspension: Parabolic springs with shocks and stabiliser bar

Rear suspension: Electronically controlled airbags

GVM: 12,000kg / 16,000kg / 18,000kg

Fuel capacity: 280lt

AdBlue tank: 30lt

Brakes: Full air, dual circuit, with ABS and autonomous emergency braking

Safety: Stability control, traction control, ECE R29-compliant cab, driver's airbag, hill start assist, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning

Cab: Day cab or sleeper