Back in the not too distant past a huge percentage of trucks on Aussie roads carried International Trucks badges.
They were everywhere, especially the ACCO variants, and the brand had a huge loyal following.
Then, at the beginning of the decade, ‘Inter’ disappeared in our local market, although Iveco and their dealer network continued to provide parts and support to owners.
Fast forward to 2016 though and it was announced that Iveco had won the Australian distribution rights to the now Navistar-owned brand.
We’ve since seen the first of potentially a number of International Trucks models return to Australia – the ProStar.
I spent the day in an International ProStar with a tipper body fitted and it was great to get a taste of the International Trucks offering.
Of course, if you’re a keen follower of the truck industry, you would know the ProStar had previously been offered in Australia with CAT badges and a CAT engine under the bonnet.
The International Trucks version though is powered exclusively by the X15 Cummins engine.
Standard output is 550hp/2508Nm, however increased ratings are available, the truck I drove boasted 600hp/2779Nm.
There’s a choice of EATON transmissions on offer – either 18-speed manual or 18-speed automated manual, the tipper tested had the self-changing box.
Whenever you jump into a vehicle for the first time it always takes a little time for you to get to know it…in this case though you have both the truck and the driver trying to work each other out.
The ProStar has a system that calibrates to your driving style, and to the load on board, and then adjusts settings such as transmission shift points and throttle control to allow for the most efficient and easiest drive possible.
So comparing my first hour in the truck to my last hour was very different – by the end I had worked out exactly how the truck liked to be driven, i.e. how much accelerator to use from a standing start etc. and it had my number too.
And isn’t that exactly the life of a tipper, and/or tipper and dog combo? These things get a hard time and are driven almost on the edge all-day in often very trying conditions.
When I talk about getting used to the truck another thing that comes to mind is the three-settings on the exhaust brake.
Naturally, the three settings relate to the amount of resistance or braking force that you get when you back off the accelerator.
I tested out all three and was happy with the spread between 1 and 3, settling mostly for the number 2 setting.
On my road test the International ProStar tipper was loaded with just a touch under 17 tonnes of sand, making for a total gross weight of just over 23 tonnes.
The Cummins engine proved to be a sweet thing, ably supported by the EATON automated manual transmission.
Remarkably, despite the load, the truck easily climbed moderate hills in the 18th ratio and maintained 100km/h.
Reflective mirror cases prove annoying
One thing that I found really annoying and distracting though was the unwanted reflections from the chrome mirror casings.
Sure, they look great, but the reflection along the inside of the right-hand mirror had me constantly thinking a car was overtaking on the right…when in fact it was just the lane markings reflecting as I traveled along.
The last thing you want when driving a truck is any further distractions, or things appearing to be moving about the vehicle, and that’s exactly what was going on here.
This could be an easy fix with some matte black paint or non-reflective tape positioned just on the inside edge, perhaps too the mirror could be repositioned slightly to cut down on this issue.
In my opinion the reflective surfaces should be kept to the actual mirrors.
ProStar Cab – Best of Both Worlds?
I have to give the designers of the ProStar cab a big pat on the back – the visibility is excellent.
The big single windscreen, thin A pillars and seating position (quite far out to the right) makes for an easy drive, while the safety benefits of the sloping bonnet can’t be understated.
In fact, the ProStar actually feels somewhat like a cab-over truck and you could say that perhaps this is the best of both worlds?
From the driver’s seat the dashboard is within easy reach, especially the centre control panel, and the main controls are all well-placed too.
The International Trucks ProStar has a typical U.S. truck style gauge arrangement and then quite a small driver info screen.
I find the array of gauges to be a bit confusing and distracting, while the driver info screen in the ProStar is fairly small, with smallish font and is located a fair way down on the panel.
Compare this with something a little more contemporary such as the simpler four gauge set-up and larger driver info screen in the Iveco Eurocargo and you might agree that this is a more usable and less distracting arrangement (the traditionalists won’t agree though!).
A clock would also be a handy addition to the cab.
Storage is never a high priority in a day-cab offering, however the International Trucks designers have managed to provide good-sized roof storage areas and a handy recessed space under the dashboard.
I thought comfort was also lifted by much better than expected sound and vibration suppression inside the cab, the extra thick rubber floor mat no doubt aiding to keep things quieter.
Twin-style sun visors and handy little quarter windows are also worth a mention.
The Australian truck market is booming at the moment with a growing population and big infrastructure projects driving a lot of the extra demand.
If you’re an International Trucks fan (perhaps even a previous owner?) you won’t be disappointed with this new offering from the famous brand.
Surprisingly easy to drive, the ProStar is modern truck that still has some of the character of the American rivals, but balances this with good driving dynamics and a comfy cab.
Backed up by the team at Iveco and their broad dealer network and I reckon the ProStar is well worth a closer look.
Check out all the specs on the International ProStar here.