Scania A30 school bus

Gary Worrall finds the new Scania A30 school bus is particularly friendly to the first-time operator.

The initial impressions of the A30 are of simplicity, although that’s not to say things feel ‘dumbed down’ to meet the needs of an industry that is constantly searching for new driving talent.

Instead, the driving position presents as being very car-like, and that should diminish the nervousness of first-time operators.

Settling in the first time driver will find the steering wheel offers stepless adjustability for height and reach, even the tallest or shortest drivers will be able to get comfortable. All of the main controls are well within reach.

With the 8.9-litre five-cylinder DC9 engine running there is a barely audible thrum from the engine compartment. The Scania engineers have done a good job on the design and soundproofing.

The seat is comfortable and supportive, so even a full day shift will not be too taxing. The forward view out the curved windscreen is panoramic.

Typically broad European side mirrors, with spotters, allow a good line of sight down both sides, again providing drivers with a peace of mind when it comes to ensuring that all passengers have safely moved away from the bus before it takes off.

The six-speed ZF transmission provides a silky smooth drive, with enough slurring of the shift to eliminate the driveline shock that can send passengers sprawling, and insurance premiums spiralling.

Making use of the full loops at the DECA facility in Anglesea, Victoria, the A30 showed itself to be a smooth and quiet operator under a variety of conditions, including cruising at 60km/h, 80km/h and right up to 100km/h.

The only wind noise comes from the driver’s sliding window and only then at above 80km/h.

 There was also the chance to try out the retarder on the 5-percent gradient side track. What a powerhouse of braking it turned out to be. By itself it gives more than enough retardation to pull the bus down to a standstill from the far side of 60km/h.

Just as impressive is the lack of noise generated by the retarder. It was audible within the bus but wasn’t any impediment to regular conversation, despite engine revs peaking at well over 2,000rpm.

The gradient loop also included a stretch of washboard corrugations, designed to test out the handling and suspension. The A30 sailed through without breaking stride.

To test the steering we executed a series of left and right swerves at 60km/h, which showed a level of stability that would not be out of place on a top-level passenger car.

The engineers have removed body roll from the equation. So the A30 flowed through the direction changes completely unruffled, and certainly without flicking our photographer out of his seat as he attempted to get the best ‘action’ shot.

While there is still plenty more to be learned about the A30, which will be revealed in a later edition of ABC when a full test can be carried out, the first impressions are of a quietly efficient school bus that can be ordered, with full Euro 4 compliance, complete from the manufacturer.

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