Denning low-floor city bus

By: Allen Matzel

Denning’s new low-floor city bus is a dream to drive, delivering fantastic performance, ride and handling...

Denning low-floor city bus
The Denning low-floor city bus is simply a pleasure to drive. This is due to its easy manoeuvrability, superb mechanical access, almost complete lack of blind spots and many more features.

In another first Driver Bus Lines has become the first Melbourne-based operator to take delivery of a complete Denning low-floor city bus.

This unit is one of a growing number of Denning vehicles in the company's fleet.

The new Denning will be used on Driver's route services that radiate from Box Hill, Glen Waverley, Chadstone, East Kew, Elsternwick, East Brighton and St Kilda.

The Denning body has a European look to it with clean crisp lines, which has been well finished and provides a clean uncluttered interior.

Leaving the Driver depot in Mt Waverley we headed off for a quick spurt down the Monash freeway (where the Denning made fast work of reaching 100km/h); we exited at Bourke Road for a run through the streets of Camberwell.

This gave a good idea as to how the Denning handles heavy city traffic and some of the smaller streets in the area.

Driving the Denning was a dream, with light but positive steering that gave good road feel, a smooth gear change from the Allison automatic transmission and a very comfy Isri suspended driver's seat.

Internal noise has been kept low, even up the back, and the interior is bright and cheerful with plenty of room.

Denning's new city bus body gives excellent vision for the driver with next to no blind spots, which makes driving a much more pleasurable experience.

The ride on the Denning was up to its usual high standard. The ride was smooth with no body roll even over speed humps and on rough roads.

All suspension components on the low floor are the same as those for the school/charter bus and the coach.

Denning's Mike Dempsey says the rear part of the chassis is the same as that on the lowest floor option on the school bus.

The Denning low-floor chassis is built using the same tubular steel space frame construction as the coaches, and also uses a lot of the same components, making it easier for bus operators who run a mixed fleet of low-floor buses, school buses and coaches.



Entering the Denning low floor is via one easy step of 430mm. This leads to a flat floor and then two steps of 250mm and 255mm to the rear saloon, which has a ramped floor, then a further step 255mm to the rear seat.

The interior is clean and uncluttered with the passengers sitting on 38 Reatex-covered metro seats.

A Thermo King LRT heat/cool air-conditioner is fitted (this worked very well and kept the bus cool and comfortable during the test).

The driver's area has been well set out with everything falling easily to hand. All the gauges are easy to see as are the warning lights. There is a stalk at the top right-hand corner of the dash that controls the amount of retardation on the transmission (this worked exceptionally well).

A stalk on the left-hand side of the steering column (which is adjustable for height and rake) operates the indicators, headlights and wipers.

One thing I am not in favour of is the stainless steel dash insert; it may be practical but it doesn't look right.

Another negative is the driver's side mirror cannot be adjusted from the driver's seat.

Denning says the city bus body normally has electric mirrors fitted as standard and the normal Metagal-type mirrors were the operator's choice.

Other body features include Clarion radio/CD player and a Southport LED destination sign.

Mechanical access is brilliant with the rear wheel arches hinged and large access panels on the sides and rear for engine access.

This Denning has the heart of a Cat, a C9 Cat to be exact, 8.8-litre inline six-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that complies with ADR80/02 (US EPA 2004, equivalent to Euro 4).

This engine develops 250kW (335hp) at 2,100rpm and produces a massive 1,420Nm (1050ft-lb) of torque at 1,400rpm.

This beast is coupled to an Allison T350R five-speed automatic transmission with an integral multi-stage hydraulic retarder.

Gear ratios on the Allison are 1st 3.49; 2nd 1.86; 3rd 1.41; 4th 1.00; 5th 0.75; and reverse 5.03.

There are two fuel tanks of 150 litres each mounted on the chassis sides forward of the drive axle.

A Meritor drive axle is fitted rated at 10,400kg and a Dana forged steel double-drop beam axle rated at 7,300kg is used at the front.

Brakes are a dual-circuit system with spring brakes to drive, Knorr SB7000 discs are fitted to the front axle and Meritor 'Q Plus' drums to the rear.

Suspension is Denning full-air with four torque rods, two air bellows and one levelling valve on the front, and four torque rods, four air bellows and two levelling valves on the rear. A fast response kneeling device is fitted to the front axle.

All up the Denning low floor is a dream to drive, delivering fantastic performance, ride and handling.

Many thanks to Gary Driver and Ben Magalotti for allowing ABC access to this superb city bus.

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