The new-generation of Mercedes-Benz off-road trucks is arriving in Australia and I got along for a test-drive.
Consisting of 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 variants, power to all the different versions comes by way of a Euro 6 compliant straight-six diesel engine.
There’s a 7.7 litre engine with outputs of 299hp or 354hp, along with a 10.7 litre unit offering 394hp, 428hp and 455hp.
While weights range from 16 tonnes (GVM) to 41 tonnes (70 tonne GCM).
On hand at the drive day at a very cold/muddy Werribee 4×4 Test Track was a selection of four trucks:
- Mercedes-Benz 1630 4×4 300hp/1200Nm
- Mercedes-Benz 1835 4×4 350p/1400Nm
- Mercedes-Benz 3343 6×6 430hp/2100Nm
- Mercedes-Benz 4146 8×8 455hp/2200Nm
Having not been overly familiar with the new-generation of Mercedes-Benz trucks i.e. the prime mover and the rigids, it was good to start to get to know them.
Albeit, my driving on the day was on anything but smooth bitumen.
I started off in the two 4×4 variants and was particularly impressed by the 1835 variant.
Fitted with the optional nine-speed manual transmission, the engine delivered not only plenty of power for climbing muddy ascents, but also excellent crawling ability when pointing the nose downhill.
All the trucks benefit from improved engine braking over the previous generation models.
While of the big boys my pick was the 8×8.
Surprisingly maneuverable, the twin-steer front axles help get the big Benz through some amazingly tight spots (places where you feel a bit truck doesn’t belong!).
Instead, when needing to get through the more difficult sections a push of the button for the rear diff lock(s), or sometimes front as well, was all that was needed.
You can see from the pictures that the cabs of the heavy-duty trucks, the 6×6 and 8×8, sit up really high off the ground – it’s four steps to get up there, but the ground clearance and approach angles are impressive.
Those heavy-duty offerings benefit from an all-new cab design that exceeds Euro cab standards for strength.
While the new Mercedes-Benz trucks feature a new chassis design and the flex exhibited on test was impressive.
The German truck manufacturer telling us that the new ultra high torsion steel chassis has been designed for extra robustness and flexibility.
Interestingly, all the different off-road models feature drum brakes.
The main mirrors in particular are nice and wide and offer excellent side and rear visibility. They’re electrically adjustable, however the smaller blind-spot mirrors need to be moved by hand.
The cab seemed really well insulated, there was good visibility all-round and it was a comfortable seating position.
The controls and gauges all appeared to be located in the right spots, and I was also impressed by the way the centre display screen showed you the status of the diff-locks.
A smart addition to the medium-duty trucks was a folding/flexible bottom step – this means you’re a lot less likely to rip it off when negotiating the really tough stuff.
While as you can see in the photos the off-road trucks get headlight protection, Mercedes-Benz also promising even better under-body protection on the new offerings.
Who’s going to buy them?
Mercedes-Benz Trucks say the heavy-duty offerings are likely to be very popular for mining applications, while the 4x4s are likely to be popular among off-road bus operators and for spreader applications.
Getting about 20 minutes in each of the trucks wet my appetite for the new Mercedes-Benz product, we look forward to hopefully bringing you more detailed reviews of these new trucks as soon as possible.