Irizar Century 3500 school bus

By: Allen Matzel

The school bus version of the popular Irizar Century 3500 is a capable bus that performs well in all sorts of traffic conditions.

Irizar Century 3500 school bus
Cool for school: Irizar's Century 3500 school bus variant is highly manoeuverable and has plenty of power to go.

The Irizar Century coaches have proven so popular the company has now introduced a basic Century 3500 school bus version.

The first school bus spec Irizar to be delivered has gone to country Victorian operator Zaffina's of Robinvale.

The Century 3500 school bus looks the same from the outside (exception being the white tail-light surrounds); it's inside where the differences are more noticeable.

There is no TV/DVD system, the air-conditioning vents over the seats are just a basic vent, and there are no reclining seats.

McConnell Seats has fitted 57 seatbelt-equipped commuter-type seats with good leg room, making for a comfortable clean interior.

There are no curtains, the blinds to the windscreen are manually operated and the driver's window is a standard sliding type (as opposed to the electric drop-down one fitted to the coaches).

Air-conditioning on the school bus is the standard Hispacool unit fitted to the coaches and the full through bins are rather cavernous (but they still have that driver-unfriendly ridged floor).

Entering the school bus is by four steps of 410mm, 210mm, 210mm, 65mm and 130mm to the driver's floor; then two small steps of 140mm and 150mm to the main saloon; and a step of 160mm to the rear seat.

The driver's area has a different dash to the coaches with space for a ticket machine, but the dash is still driver friendly and functional.

In the driver's seat everything falls easy to hand and all gauges and lights are in easy sight.

The driver's seat is a standard leather air-ride seat, which is also very comfortable.

The steering column is fully adjustable for tilt and reach. There is only one control stalk, on the left hand side of the column, which operates the horn, indicators windscreen wipers and washers, as well as the headlights.

Zaffina's Irizar school bus is mounted on a Mercedes-Benz 0500R (OH1830L) chassis fitted with automatic transmission.

Driving the 0500R is a pleasure, with plenty of power and get up and go. It is also highly manoeuverable.

While moving off first gear is a bit slow, when second gear kicks in the bus takes off and picks up speed and travels well with the surrounding traffic.

The test was a run around Scoresby and Ferntree Gully area travelling on typical roads where school buses travel on school runs and charters.

Propelling the OH1830L is a Mercedes-Benz OM926LA six-cylinder inline turbocharged and after-cooled engine.

This 7.2-litre engine develops 255kW (300hp) at 2,200rpm with an impressive 1,200Nm (885ft-lb) of torque being developed between 1,300 and 1,600rpm.

Coupled to this is a ZF 6HP 592 six-speed automatic transmission with integrated hydraulic retarder.

Gear ratios on the ZF are: 1st 3.43; 2nd 2.01; 3rd 1.42; 4th 1.00; 5th 0.83; 6th 0.59; and reverse 4.84.

The front axle is a rigid 'I' beam with a stabiliser bar, two air bellows, one leveling valve and two telescopic double-acting shock absorbers.

On the rear is a single ratio (5.857:1) hypoid axle with a stabiliser bar, four air bellows, two leveling valves and four telescopic double-acting shock absorbers.

The suspension is electronically controlled (ECAS), and is fitted with raise and kneel as standard.

All up it is a capable bus that handles and performs well in all sorts of traffic conditions. It is also good for operators that run Irizar coaches as body parts are common to both models.

Many thanks to Irizar's Regional Sales and Marketing Manager Guy Pex for giving ABC the opportunity to have a look at this wonderful new school bus.


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