DAF CF 85 460 truck review

Tim Giles puts a DAF CF 85 tipper with the new SCR Paccar MX engine through its paces on the roads of north-west Victoria


Since DAF’s return to the Australian market a few years ago under the Paccar umbrella, the most successful model has been the CF 85. Its specifications seem to fit neatly into Australia’s dual need for a small distribution prime mover and a rigid in a truck and dog combination.

The truck as tested here is the CF 85 460 model using the Paccar MX 340 engine as a power plant and fitted with a tipper body and fully equipped for tipper and dog work. On this trip terminating in Mildura on the Victoria/New South Wales border the truck was running solo but loaded to its normal GVM.

This is also among the first trucks on Australian roads using the SCR system to reduce exhaust emissions to meet ADR 80/02. As a result it is fitted with an Adblue tank and the SCR unit itself where the Adblue is added to the exhaust stream as a catalyst for a chemical reaction to reduce the levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) at the exhaust stack.

These trucks sell in big numbers in Europe, with DAF a clear number one in both Holland and the United Kingdom. Their strength in a right-hand drive market like Britain means the design does take account of our preferences.

This means the DAF organisation here has a long list of options to tick or flick and it is possible to option everything from a relatively simple truck right through to a very sophisticated rig with all of the bells and whistles available to the modern European operator.


This driveline is one that may become very familiar to Australian truck buyers in the next five or six years.

The combination of a Paccar MX engine, Meritor drives and Airglide 200 suspension should be available on Kenworth trucks after the next emissions rule changes and the introduction of ADR 80/03.

Most of the driveline used here has been pretty standard for DAF in recent years: Meritor 46.6 rear axles with 3.9-to-1 ratio diffs, Airglide and AS Tronic gearbox with overdrive. Paccar recommends prime movers use 3.73-to-1 diffs for the MX as it is a lower revving engine.

Maximum torque sits at 2,300Nm (1,696ft lb) all the way from 1,000 to 1,410rpm with maximum power at 460hp (340kW) coming in at 1,500 to 1,900rpm.

DAF,-CF-85-tipper ,-Paccar -MX-engine ,-truck ,-review ,-ATN2



The gearbox used on this particular model is the AS Tronic 12-speed built by ZF for DAF. The DAF product should act as a useful test bed for Kenworth engineers here if it considers the option of this highly sophisticated gearbox instead of the Autoshift and its lower level of technology.

The AS Tronic is fully integrated with the trucks control systems and MX engine, and is picking up information from many more parameters than the Eaton auto, which simply checks road speed, engine revs and throttle position.

Cab and Controls

This DAF model rates quite highly in the ease-of-use stakes making life simple for the driver. Access is excellent with wide steps up into the relatively low-set cab aided by a large semicircular grab handle around the end of the dash and a smaller handle mirroring it to the left.

The seat is firm but comfortable with an integrated seat belt. A useful feature is the symbols indicating what each seat adjustment control does being clearly visible when the driver is seated. There is no need to open the driver’s door to find out what the levers do.

The fully adjustable steering wheel comes with an array of controls situated on the two bars at quarter to three on the wheel. There are three multiple position switches on either side of the wheel controlling integrated telephone, retarder, cruise control and radio.

The dash wraps around to a large central console, topped with a wide flat tray to store odds and ends. This central console also includes a series of switches and the hand-brake.

The position normally used for the hand-brake facing the driver on the wraparound is taken up by the trailer brake hand-piece. This configuration would vary depending on buyer specification.

Below the hand-piece is the gearbox switch, in its simplicity sitting next to the air-conditioning controls.

DAF,-CF-85-tipper ,-Paccar -MX-engine ,-truck ,-review ,-ATN3


Above and to the right is another simple DAF solution. The driver interface with the onboard computer consists of a single wide knob, able to be turned or pressed to navigate through menus. Each screen consists of a list, scrolled through by turning the knob and items are selected by pressing, as required. This is so much simpler than other European offerings in this department which often confuse drivers.

Storage is well-placed and close to hand with a large deep tray fitted to the engine cover which includes two drinks holders and a small tray to put small stuff like mobiles, cigarettes etc. There is also a large door pocket with enough room to store a large water bottle.

On this model there is a better place to keep a water bottle, a pull out fridge under the centre of the bunk. The bunk is not large but big enough to be used occasionally rather than every night of the week. When the bunk is lifted there are two large storage compartments behind both seats.

The area where the manual gear stick would normally sit to the left of the driver’s seat could be useful with a little customisation to create some good sized storage in the space. It would fit a good sized tray for bits and bobs.

There are some unusual door handles with a kind of quarter circular shape that feels odd when first used but actually works quite well and when using it to open the door actually makes it easier to open the door and get out all in one movement.

DAF design is always practical but can be a little too sophisticated for Aussie tastes. It has learnt the lesson from other European importers and offered a choice of options from very simple to the fully complex European spec.

The pragmatic Paccar organisation has taken a good European product and picked out the aspects of the brand which will work down under and run with them.

This DAF CF 85 is a prime example of this approach with a truck that could include all of the latest add-ons like EBS, hill start aid, lane departure warning, airbags, reversing cameras and stability control but also come with a Roadranger box, Kenworth suspension and Meritor axle in the driveline.


As a driveline it is an excellent mix of US and European technology. The MX engine is smooth and flexible. It may not be really impressive but this is probably because it goes about its task with no fuss and not a lot of noise.

It pulls the fully loaded tipper up to cruising speed very quickly and without hesitation. The auto box is a set-and-forget system. Stick it into drive and press the go pedal. The gear controls are simply a dial on the dash near to the left hand. It only has five positions: neutral, drive and reverse, plus an inching reverse and forward marked by a turtle on the control switch. These last two would be necessary when involved in tight manoeuvring and when reversing onto a dock.

For the more traditional buyer there are a further two options. The ZF manual 12- and 16-speed can be chosen plus the Eaton Roadranger 18-speed if the operator wants a very familiar Paccar driveline.

The new engine includes a compression brake developing good retardation and controlled by a stalk on the right of the steering column. Simply push the stalk away and the gearbox changes down to get the revs up to get effective retardation.

On this trip there were not enough hills to give this driver a chance to explore all of the options and speed control capabilities of this system.

The previous DAF engine did not have this engine brake option and many were sold with a transmission retarder to reduce brake wear. The retarder is still available as an extra but on the evidence of this drive would probably be over-egging the pudding.

From the outside the CF 85 looks little different to the models on sale for several years. One give away is something looking like an oversized windscreen washer bottle fitted just in front of the fuel tank on the driver’s side.

Made from black plastic with a blue lid, this is the Adblue urea solution tank supplying the SCR unit fitted directly in front of it on the chassis. The SCR unit looks similar to the normal muffler box fitted in the past; it is the tank which gives away the fact this is an ADR 80/02 compliant truck.

DAF,-CF-85-tipper ,-Paccar -MX-engine ,-truck ,-review ,-ATN4


The filler in the neck of the tank is shaped to fit Adblue dispensers and avoids costly mistakes like putting fuel, water or coolant into the urea tank. The Adblue is introduced into the exhaust system upstream of the SCR unit and acts as a catalyst enabling the SCR unit to break down harmful nitrogen oxides into harmless nitrogen and oxygen.

The third element to the system is the NOx sensor keeping an eye on the levels of NOx making their way to the atmosphere. If levels above those laid down in ADR 80/02 are detected then a sequence of events is commenced.

The driver is alerted with an alarm on the dash. The engine will be derated to 60 percent torque as soon as the vehicle comes to a halt for more than two seconds. It will remain derated until the Adblue tank is refilled and dosing recommences bringing NOx levels back down to the acceptable limit.

Running without Adblue is, therefore, impossible and situations like coming to a halt at traffic lights before a steep hill when fully loaded could prove to be problematic for the truck. Operations managers could be very unforgiving if trucks ran low on Adblue.

In fact, the driver would have no excuse as there is an Adblue gauge right in the middle of the dash between the speedo and tachometer.

The capacity of the tank means a simple top up procedure once or twice a week when back at base should suffice. These trucks are unlikely to operate for long periods away from home and the major cities where Adblue can be accessed from any dealer selling a truck brand offering SCR in 2008.

In practice, the urea level will just become another of those daily checks before commencing work and in the applications this truck will come across, the inconvenience should be minimal.

Problems may arise, however, where the driver is unfamiliar with the truck or in a mixed fleet where a driver may drive both SCR and EGR trucks.



Make/Model: DAF CF 85 460

Engine: Paccar MX 340

Emissions: SCR

Gearbox: AS Tronic 12-speed

Axles: Meritor 46.6 rear axles with 3.9-to-1 ratio diffs

Suspension: Airglide 200

Max torque: 2,300Nm (1,696ft lb) from 1,000-1,410rpm

Max power: 460hp (340kW) at 1,500-1,900rpm


Send this to a friend