It makes sense when operating in the hilliest region of Australia to have as much power and torque as possible under your right foot.
But, when in the NSW Snowy Mountains last week to sample the new 500hp MAN coach chassis, I asked the boss of Cooma Coaches if he’d still run it if his operation was based in a less challenging environment?
Trevor Heise answered in no uncertain terms, “absolutely”.
He believes that the extra power and torque takes strain off the vehicle, off the engine, and makes life easier for the driver.
The extra grunt means the coach can maintain a faster average speed than less powerful coaches and despite the terrain this coach can maintain car-type travel times.
This is part of the service that Cooma Coaches offers.
The headline story is that this coach chassis, the first of which to arrive in Australia, was set aside for the loyal MAN customer, and simply it has more power and torque than any other on offer in Australia.
We’re talking 500hp and 2,500Nm of torque!
The chassis is fitted with a 14.5 metre body supplied by Australian coach builders, Coach Design.
And, because it’s a special chassis, and because Trevor is also a loyal Coach Design customer, he got the 1000th vehicle put on the road by Coach Design.
Often, when handed the keys to a vehicle, big or small, that boasts big power and/or torque figures, the delivery can be disappointing.
Sometimes the extra grunt doesn’t match the vehicle, or doesn’t get delivered in an efficient way.
Not here though, the 500hp gets this coach up and running without raising a sweat.
The 2,500Nm of torque providing an equally impressive, seemingly never ending, amount of sheer grunt.
So much so that up the Snowy Mountains the big coach required never more than one gear change down – 11th proving the sweet spot for even the heftiest of gradients.
The transmission is a super-smooth ZF Tipmatic AMT unit.
The biggest thing to adjust to in the coach is the quietness of the Euro 6 compliant engine.
Sure, it’s about 10 metres behind you, but it’s quiet and refined even sitting in the back seats of the coach (I took a backseat ride for a short period on the return leg).
As impressive as the power and the torque delivery is, those attributes don’t outshine the safety and driver assist features that make this big coach an easy drive.
My favourite feature though was the Brakematic feature.
So, you’re traversing down a series of hills and want to set the cruise control at 80km/h? Don’t worry about pressing any buttons, slow the coach using the retarder, get to 80km/h, retarder off and touch the accelerator.
Yep, it will then hold you at that speed automatically – no buttons, feet off the pedals. So smart!
While the adaptive cruise control in normal mode is just as easy to operate.
So, you’re traveling along happily at 100km/h and you enter an 80km/h zone – don’t worry about hitting the service brakes, simply press the button on the right hand stalk and the system automatically gives you the 3rd (or middle) position of the retarder.
Slowed down to 80km/h, press the button again and you’re silently gliding along at the legal speed and you can manipulate the speed of the coach using the incremental speed controls (up and down buttons) on the steering wheel.
Set to primarily haul passengers between Sydney and the NSW snowfields, for the driver at the wheel of the big MAN coach it will be a cruisy run.
Not only will the coach maintain 100km/h (or thereabouts) on the up hill climbs, with the Adaptive Cruise Control and incremental speed control, like the passengers, he/she can sit back and the Hume in complete comfort.
This works at slow speeds and uses the air pressure in the airbag on the tag axle to take strain off the rubber and save your tyres.
While the coach features a huge underfloor cargo area with a 480 litre fuel tank mounted ahead to help balance out the weight of the rear engine coach.
And there’s the welcome inclusion of fully electric mirrors, mains and convex blind spot mirrors too.
Trevor, a 4th generation bus/coach operator, has made sure the coach is one of the most comfortable on the roads – it has underfloor heaters, an airplane style infotainment system and a camera mounted up front to allow passengers to keep an eye on the road ahead.
Summing it up, a 14.5 metre long super-comfy coach deserves a powertrain that doesn’t feel like it needs more power and torque.
The ability to comfortably cruise along at a consistent, easy and stress-free pace makes this coach a pleasure for driver and passengers alike.
How impressed is Trevor? He’s got his eye on grabbing another one already!