BCI Classmaster 43

By: Allen Matzel


BCI Classmaster 43 BCI Classmaster 43
43 seats on the BCI Classmaster 43 43 seats on the BCI Classmaster 43
BCI Classmaster 43 on the road BCI Classmaster 43 on the road
side BCI Classmaster 43 side BCI Classmaster 43
BCI Classmaster 43 rear view BCI Classmaster 43 rear view
storage BCI Classmaster 43 storage BCI Classmaster 43
wide entry door followed by three steps on the BCI Classmaster 43 wide entry door followed by three steps on the BCI Classmaster 43

Allen Matzel gives the BCI Classmaster 43 a steer and finds it stands for good solid engineering that’s uncluttered by frills.

BCI Classmaster 43
The BCI Classmaster 43 makes up for less frills with some very solid engineering.

In the last few years Bus and Coach International (BCI) has gone from strength to strength. On the back of introducing new models its sales have been hiking northwards. A big help to BCI's ascendency has been the introduction of the Classmaster - a multi-role entry-level bus that can handle school runs with aplomb, school charters with ease and basic day charters when needed.

There are Classmasters in the range. Where last month we went for a steer in the 57, this month we are looking at the smaller Classmaster 43. No prizes for figuring out the source of the '43'. Where the big brother packs 57 seats into its saloon this little 'Master makes do with 43. Though 'make do' might be a poor choice of words when you consider how good this bus is.

Classmaster 43 standard features runs to thru bins, air suspension, air-conditioning and few frills. Still, the 43 is a stylish 9.8-metre bus that can hold its own with larger, more complicated, more expensive competitors.

Much as on the 57 the 43 has a nice, wide entry door followed by three steps to the driver's floor. The first, almost always the largest is 380mm and the next two are 280mm and 275mm. There is a further two small steps (165mm and 125mm) to the flat saloon floor and a final 200mm step up to the rear seat.

Depending on what the operator wants the passenger seats can be fully ADR68 compliant or they can be metro type seats.

BCI pays close attention to the driver's areas in its vehicles and the 43 is yet another example of this. For example the driver gets a fully adjustable steering column. One stalk for each side sprouts from the column: the left stalk operates the hazard lights, indicators and head lights/high beam; and the right one governs the wipers/washers and the amount of retardation. Other features up here are a Grammer fully adjustable air-ride seat, heated mirrors, electric blinds and a radio/CD/PA system.

A Carrier CN268 heat-cool air-conditioner has also been fitted and it is certainly up to its job.

For the test drive ABC chose a route around Melbourne; leaving from Footscray and heading toward Williamstown beach for a photo shoot and then drive around through Altona, Laverton and surrounding suburbs.

Dealing with the inevitable heavy traffic on the route proves the Classmaster 43 has the power and performance to move with the cars. Special mention must be made of the retarder's sterling performance. It works exceptionally well across four stages of retardation, although stage one is a bit too light and stage four is probably a bit too strong.

Like the 57, the 43's push comes from a Cummins ISB280 EX. It is a 6.7-litre inline six that is turbocharged and intercooled. It delivers 208kW (280hp) at 2,400rpm and 895Nm (660ft-lb) of shove from 1,500 to 2,200rpm. Backing up the engine is an Allison T325R six-speed auto with inbuilt hydraulic retarder.

Full air suspension is fitted with two bellows front and four on the rear with raise-only feature. The bus has Wabco ABS dual-circuit air disc brakes fitted front and rear.

The only real criticism worth mentioning is the pillar between the driver's window and the main saloon windows. And once you're used to it - which does not take long - it no longer bears a mention.

THE VERDICT

In all the Classmaster 43 is a top bus. It combines driver comfortable, quietness and a smooth ride. It is a good basic all rounder.

If you are looking for a 43 seater give the BCI Classmaster 43 a look.

ABC thanks Ivan Furlanetto from BCI and Peter Lennon and Peter Attreed from Whitehorse Truck and Bus for giving access to this top little bus.

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