IVECO STRALIS X-WAY: REVIEW
TRUCKSALES RECENTLY GRABBED THE FIRST MEDIA DRIVE OF IVECO’S NEW STRALIS X-WAY IN AUSTRALIA – AND RETURNED MIGHTILY IMPRESSED…
More efficient, safer, cleaner and more comfortable – if they were the guiding principles by which IVECO engineers undertook the development of the new Stralis X-Way range, then the company has hit the nail on the head.
Some six weeks after a glittering national launch in Melbourne, Trucksales secured the first media drive of the biggest hitter of the new Stralis X-Way line-up: the 6x4 Stralis X-Way prime mover with Cursor 13 engine, complete with the largest 'Active Space' double-bunk sleeper cab.
We grabbed the truck from IVECO's Dandenong headquarters in Melbourne – home to the production line where the new X-Way is manufactured – and took it for a quick spin out of town along the Princes Highway. While we only spent a few hours in the truck, we came away very impressed with the Euro6-rated X-Way, which improves on the existing Euro5 Stralis in just about every respect.
The story so far…
IVECO says the X-Way is the result of four years of collaboration between IVECO engineers both here and in Italy – a process that has resulted, the company says, in a blend of performance honed for local conditions and the latest technological innovations from Europe.
The new platform has also benefitted from three years of on-road testing, also carried out both here and in Europe.
It's a point IVECO goes to some pains to point out. After all, Australian trucking history is peppered with lacklustre models developed in the US or Europe, only to succumb to Australia's testing mix of huge distances, rough roads and high temperatures…
And so we come to the X-Way, a rather curiously named range that, according to IVECO's marketing guff, represents the 'Perfect Crossing' of on-road performance with a certain level of off-road ability. To that end, the company says the X-Way has particular appeal for vocational applications, although the rig we tested was entirely appropriate for general freight duties or, in this case, a curtainsider loaded with concrete blocks.
The loaded single tri-axle Freighter trailer brought our running weight to 40.5 tonne, or 90 per cent of its GCM (gross combined mass) of 45 tonnes. The load gave us a good appreciation of the truck's performance as we crawled our way through Melbourne's outer suburbs, before settling into cruise mode on the open highway.
So what have we got here, and how has it been improved? At the heart of this 6x4 prime mover is the latest version of IVECO's Cursor 13 engine – a Euro6-compliant, 12.9-litre in-line six-cylinder turbo-diesel with a claimed maximum output of 510hp between 1600-1900rpm and 2300Nm from 900-1525rpm.
It meets Euro6, roughly the equivalent of ADR 80/04, by way of IVECO's own Hi-SCR technology, which utilises a 'passive' diesel particulate filter (DPF) which regenerates continuously and so doesn't require the driver to manually activate a burn.
IVECO says it's a relatively uncomplicated setup compared to other SCR (selective catalytic reduction) and EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) systems and that it also saves weight, while helping to reduce fuel consumption.
The Cursor 13 is largest of the available engines in the X-Way range, which kicks off with the Cursor 9 (8.7 litres) and includes the Cursor 11 (11.1 litres), with outputs spanning 310hp/1300Nm to 510hp/2300Nm.
Both the Cursor 11 and the Cursor 13 feature a new Garrett electronic variable geometry turbo (eVGT), while all three engines benefit from new rings and pistons, revised major components (like the cylinder head, block, conrods and crankshafts) and the latest generation of Bosch, high-pressure common-rail diesel injection systems.
The Stralis X-Way is available as a 6x4 prime mover with a choice of day (Active Day), sleeper (Active Time) and extended sleeper (Active Space) cabs or as a 6x4 or 8x4 rigid.
While the engines have been significantly reworked, they also work in unison with IVECO's new HiTroniX 12-speed automated transmission, which the company says offers fast shifting, more intelligent ratio choices, and vastly improved durability – up to 1.6 million kilometres, it says.
The transmission also comes with four reverse gears, a crawler gear and a rocking mode, the latter designed to help get things moving in particularly slippery conditions, as might be found at a sodden work site. This is in addition to the truck's standard power divider and cross locks.
Fuel efficiency focus
The new AMT is also key to the fuel efficiency gains claimed for the X-Way, having a number of clever features to limit fuel burn.
An Ecoswitch function sets the speed limiter at 95km/h, deactivates the accelerator's kick-down function and automatically adjusts the engine's torque output for a given load, while Ecoroll sees the transmission disengaged when coasting downhill and certain parameters are met, effectively reducing engine revs to idle. Touch the accelerator or brake and the function deactivates and the transmission re-engages.
A new 'Gap Setting' feature works with the truck's adaptive cruise control, allowing the truck's speed to deviate from the set cruise speed by up to 10km/h for more efficient use of the truck's momentum. Alternatively, standard cruise control is also available if adaptive cruise, where the truck maintains a set (and variable) distance from the vehicle in front, isn't desired.
Finally, the truck will automatically shut down the engine if left idling while stationary for five minutes – although this function can be disabled if need be.
On the safety front, the X-Way comes standard with an electronic braking system, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, daytime running lights and a reversing buzzer, while options include lane departure warning (standard with Active Space cab), bi-xenon headlights, driver attention system, tyre pressure monitor and (on prime mover models) an extended rear catwalk, affording the driver greater safety and security when connecting Suzi coils.
Electronic stability control is standard, incorporating anti-lock braking, brake assist system, and traction control. The brake assist system will automatically detect an emergency braking situation, and increase the braking power should the application of the brake pedal be insufficient to engage the ABS.
Finally, the new cabs boast a high level of comfort, with leather heated and air-suspended seats, new TFT instrument display, excellent storage and enhanced ergonomics. IVECO Australia also offers a range of optional X-Way packs, such as the Day Cab Pack, Sleeper Cab Pack, Day and Sleeper Safety Pack, Long Distance Safety Pack and Towing Pack (rigid models only).
On the road
Cab access is via three broad steps, two sturdy grab rails and a door that opens wide to 90 degrees. It's a fair way up in this Active Space cab, but once you're in you are greeted by excellent vision and quality ISRI seat with a high degree of adjustability.
The steering column features air adjustment for tilt via a floor-mounted button, and so finding just the right driving position presents no problems. We love the full complement of mirrors, too – including front bumper mirror and kerb mirror – while each of the two standard side mirrors and spot mirrors are adjusted via a menu on the central TFT display and the directional control on the door sill.
On that TFT display, it may initially look pretty busy but it's easy to read and, once you're familiar with the menu system, it's no drama to pull up the info you're after in no time – anything from air and oil pressure to the adaptive cruise settings to tyre pressure, axle loads and more.
One thing that did irk, just a little bit, was how the steering wheel – albeit a smart unit with leather wrap and neatly integrated controls – was slightly offset from the centre of the instrument display. It's no biggie though – perhaps more my OCD talking!
The cockpit wraps around the driver and all the various controls are within easy arm's reach, and we like the extensive leather treatment of the centre dash unit, which houses the Bluetooth stereo unit, climate control, 12-volt outlet and large HVAC vents, as well as the generally excellent fit and finish of all the various panels.
There's always a period of familiarisation when you jump behind the wheel of a new truck, so it's a credit to IVECO's engineers and designers that this period in the X-Way passes quickly. It really takes no time to find your way around the various menus and controls and feel comfortable.
Using the new transmission is child's play – via three large buttons (D, N, and R) on the dash just left of the wheel – and if full auto doesn't float your boat, you can also engage semi-auto and handle the shifts yourself via the right-hand stalk off the steering column, which also doubles as the six-stage retarder.
The retarder works really well as do the all-disc service brakes, pulling our 40 tonnes up with speed and security. The service brakes also offer a high degree of feel and feedback, making slight speed adjustments around town a smooth and easy affair.
The Cursor 13 wasn't breaking a sweat even with the load out back, and it really is a marvel in terms of NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). As in, there's barely any.
It's just so smooth, and super quiet too. In fact, when you're rolling down the highway the biggest intrusion upon the little cocoon of peace and quiet in the cab is the whistling of the wind around the mirrors – and that ain't exactly loud, either.
IVECO says the new transmission is 6dB quieter than the old one while the engine is 1dB quieter. Although a 7dB reduction might not seem like much on paper, on the road you'll be amazed by just how quiet the X-Way really is.
The ride is also remarkably good, with eight airbags in the rear taking the sting out of the worst of our open roads. And what shock does get past them is duly handled by the cab's suspension and the ISRI seat, which all helps keep driver fatigue (and bad backs) at bay.
Through Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs, the X-Way proved comfortable and easy to manage, with a hill-hold function, clear vision and little steering effort at the wheel proving a winning recipe for multi-drop city work. Then, out on the highway, it continued to impress as a comfy, quiet and safe mile-eater.
The transmission flicks through its ratios quickly and smoothly, skip-shifting its way from a standing start from third to fifth, then seventh and up through the cogs to 12. At 100km/h in 12th the tacho sits on 1500rpm, just at the upper limit of its green 'eco' zone (1000-1500rpm), and it was happy enough holding around 80km/h up some of the inclines we encountered.
Best of all, there's a heap of grunt available from right down low in the rev range, which came into its own in stop/start traffic.
Adaptive cruise control is a great benefit on the open road, taking a significant degree of the strain out of the driving task, and it's also some comfort knowing lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking and numerous other safety systems are there in the background to help save your backside should plans head south.
Fuel economy? This quick spin wasn't long enough to gain anything near a definitive reading, but after a few hours of mixed city/country driving, the trip computer's figure was sitting around 46L/100km – or 2.2km/lt. We'll wager that figure will improve markedly for line-haul applications, and when the driver isn't 'getting up it' to assess the engine's merits in a relatively short space of time.
Home on the road
The Active Space cab is a full 2500mm wide – 200mm wider than the other X-Way cabs – and the overnighting appointments are right on point. Both bunks are long and wide, with enough room for the most 'generously proportioned' of truckies, and there are reading lights, various pockets for oddment storage, a power socket and full privacy curtains.
There's a slight tunnel over the transmission but there's full standing room in the cab, even for taller types. There's also a hatch for additional light and ventilation, and three large overhead lockers for storage.
Add in the massive slide-out fridge and the adjacent slide-out cooler, and the logically placed cup and bottle holders, and the X-Way Active Space cab is a pretty darn compelling proposition for overnighting.
This was just a brief first taste of IVECO's new X-Way but it's definitely left us wanting more. Yes, there's still no mandate on Euro6 in Australia but it will come, and this X-Way gives operators a chance to get ahead of the curve.
Beyond emissions, however, this is a very refined and technologically advanced truck with a gusty yet smart powertrain. Add in IVECO's two-year, 500,000-kilometre standard warranty, roadside assistance and various repair and maintenance programs, and the Stralis X-Way thoroughly deserves consideration for any of a wide variety of applications.
2018 IVECO Stralis X-Way AS 6x4 specifications
Engine: Cursor 13 12.9-litre in-line six-cylinder turbo-diesel
Power: 375kW (510hp) at 1900rpm
Torque: 2300Nm at 900rpm
Emissions: Euro6 (ADR 80/04)
Transmission: IVECO HiTroniX 12-speed automated manual with four reverse gears, crawler mode and rocking mode
Front suspension: Two-leaf parabolic leaf springs
Rear suspension: IVECO 5890/D eight-bag ECAS (Electronically Controlled Air Suspension)
Front axle: IVECO forged steel I-beam
Rear axles: Meritor MT23-150/D tandem single reduction with power divider and cross locks
Fuel tank: 540lt
Brakes: Air/ ventilated discs and six-stage hydraulic retarder
Cab: Active Space sleeper (2500mm wide, double bunk)
Trailer: Freighter curtainsider
Tyres: Dunlop SP 350 (steer) / SP 431 (drive)
Safety: Electronic Braking System, Automatic Emergency Braking System, Brake Assistant System, Electronic Stability Program, Anti-Slip Regulation, hill holder, tyre pressure monitoring system, daytime running lights, Lane Departure Warning System and Adaptive Cruise Control