Scania Trucks P420 video review

By: David Whyte


Euro 5-compliant engines promise less harmful exhaust for the same, if not better, performance. David Whyte tests the claim with Scania’s greener prime mover

 

The engine is greener, but does Scania’s Euro 5-compliant P420 still perform?

The manufacturer claims equal or even better performance from its new range of prime movers, fitted with the latest-spec low-emission engines. A run over the hills was required to see just how it shapes up.

The P420 is Scania’s offering to the local/intrastate market, available with a variety of cab sizes including roof height and sleeper options. Our test vehicle was the low-roof day cab, which fits in between the short cab and the sleeper cab offerings.

It has no bed and offers plenty of storage space on the floor behind the seats. The low roof height simply means there is less overhead storage, but still leaves plenty of headroom for drivers of all sizes. It also makes this truck ideal for low clearance work.

Engine and Transmission

Scania offers both of the latest pollution control measures, with some of their engines using exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and others select catalyst reduction (SCR) to keep exhaust output to a minimum.

It’s interesting to see a manufacturer offering both technologies, and will be more interesting still to see which one takes preference among operators. At present it seems people are going for the ‘just add diesel’ simplicity of the EGR option, but this should change as the AdBlue liquid becomes more widely available.

From a driver’s point of view, AdBlue should be available from a bowser near the diesel pumps at major service stations to make filling more convenient.

The truck as tested was fitted with the DC12 15, 11.7-litre SCR engine, which produces 420hp (309kW) at 1,800rpm, and 1,550 lb-ft (2,100Nm) at 1,400rpm. These numbers are very similar to those quoted on Scania’s Euro 3 version of the same engine.

The SCR technology works by injecting a urea-based liquid (AdBlue) into the exhaust stream, creating a reaction in the catalytic converter and reducing NOx levels.

Questioning whether the newer engine, given its increased environmental friendliness, would perform as well as its predecessor we headed for the hills.

For this test, the main objective was to assess whether the next level of emission control, in this case SCR, has had a detrimental effect on performance.

To do this, a route was chosen to give the engine, and Scania’s 12-speed gearbox with Opticruise autoshift system, a real workout.

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Cab and Controls

The Scania cab is very driver-friendly, with easy access via wide-opening doors and well-placed grab handles. The two steps are well positioned and offer good grip, making for safe entry and exit in wet or dry conditions. Once in the Isri seat there are numerous adjustments available, including air-operated lumbar support zones, adjustable shock absorber and even two-stage heating to make your ride more comfortable.

It seems more manufacturers are opting to fit Isri seats, and with good reason. This seat, combined with the adjustable steering column, should make it easy for any driver to find a comfortable driving position.

A curved dash makes for easy operation of all switches and controls without having to stretch. The gauges and trip computer are clearly visible through the steering wheel. Because of the angle and recessed position of the glass they don’t suffer from glare or reflection.

The only negative in the cab is the placement of the drink holders — right at the rear of the cab and quite a reach behind you. They are neither convenient nor easily accessible while driving.

Vision from the driver’s seat is great, with the exception of the blind spots created by the thick pillars each side of the windscreen. The mirrors are large, giving great rearward vision, with a rearward convex mirror and downward convex mirror on the passenger side (but only a flat mirror on the driver’s side).

Spotter mirrors are a safety feature and, I believe, should be fitted to both sides of a truck as standard. The lack of a driver-side spotter mirror is surprising on a truck with so many other safety features.

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Controls for the radio and cruise control are mounted in the steering wheel, meaning less time with your hands off the wheel and greater convenience.

Also fitted here is the downhill speed control function and controls for the trip computer/information display. The trip computer can display such things as fuel consumption, boost pressure, oil pressure and, importantly, AdBlue level. It also allows you to check your brake pad wear and axle weights on the drive group (this will also show information for trailer axle weights if your trailer is fitted with the correct ABS system).

Engine noise in the cab is confined to a reassuring but quiet rumble under acceleration, and a slight turbo whistle at cruising speed. With the exhaust on a separate chassis-mounted gantry there is virtually no exhaust noise inside the cab, even with the window open.

Access to the rear of the cab for trailer connection is easy and safe. The rear wing on the passenger side simply folds forward, giving access to a grab rail and steps incorporated into the battery cover. It is a clever way to make life easier for a driver.

There are also dummy connections on the rear of the cab for the air and electrical lines, to stop them rubbing or falling through the chassis when running bobtail. It’s another nice touch to keep things neat and tidy.

Performance

The route took us west out of Melbourne, up the Pentland Hills to Ballarat, and involved long stretches of uphill running while loaded to around 40 tonne gross.

This in itself is a good test of power, the long constant climbs mixed with steep pinches test a truck’s mettle. The P420 handled these beautifully. The truck only dropped as low as ninth gear and maintained 50km/h at 1,500rpm on the long climbs, and 42km/h at 1,300rpm on the pinch at Pykes Creek.

That’s not a bad effort given the truck was held at the 100km/h limit and did not run off the hills to get a run-up.

During these climbs I was surprised by the lack of heat coming through the floor. Even under full load the floor was cool to touch. The engine fan did get a bit of a workout, but the temperature gauge never even got close to the red zone.

With the Opticruise selector in the H position (hill climbing), the gear selection was fantastic — from full speed right through to the top of the hills.

The hill climb mode keeps the revs up a bit higher, giving power over economy. This makes the engine more thirsty, and so should only be used for its stated purpose.

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From Ballarat we turned off the freeway and headed towards Daylesford. This involved more climbing, combined with tight corners and oncoming traffic. This stretch also has some good downhill running, again with tight corners.

The finesse of the Scania’s steering and cornering ability really came to the fore here. It also showed the value of the hydraulic retarder working with the Opticruise.

This is where these systems really come into their own. Even with all that weight pushing from behind, the five-stage retarder worked a treat, leaving the brakes fresh and the driver confident of stopping ability should anything untoward happen.

Being a country road, the less-than-perfect surface also provided a test for ride quality. The cab suspension combined with the Isri seat gave a good ride over even the roughest patches. Although there was a little sway on rough corners, its not uncomfortable or unnerving.

From Daylesford it was on to Kyneton, through undulating countryside and over average roads. After two-and-a-half hours of climbing hills, I was still at ease in the seat with no signs of being uncomfortable. In all, it was a relaxing drive, with the truck doing everything asked of it with ease.

Given the terrain covered, you would expect the fuel consumption to take a beating. This makes the actual result all the more surprising.

Over the 213km covered, with the vast majority being uphill, a total of 120 litres of diesel went through the engine — roughly 1.8km/L.

This was on a route specifically chosen to test the pulling power, with complete disregard for fuel consumption and without any real attempt to drive efficiently. Add to this about 10 litres of AdBlue, and you still have a very good result for such a punishing drive.

Concerns of excess fuel consumption or loss of power have been dispelled, without raising a sweat.

The two small fuel tanks (at 200 litres and 300 litres capacity) seemed a bit odd — especially given the sticker on one which told the operator to ‘fill the other tank first’. Maybe one 500-litre tank would be better, perhaps this is optional.

The smaller (about 100 litres) AdBlue tank was well situated, right beside the fuel tank on the driver’s side. The position made it easy to check and fill while fuelling up. Just remember to take the small blue insert out of the tank fill point first.

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Verdict

As a local/intrastate prime mover, this unit really fits the bill. It has a great driving environment, is quiet inside — and outside — and has the manoeuvrability required to deal with city traffic and roads.

With features like ABS, EBS, Opticruise and Scania’s hydraulic retarder it is also exceptionally safe.

The Scania brand is well represented in many local fleets, and should continue to be if this truck is anything to go by.

Here European comfort meets environmental awareness.

The end result is a very capable unit that’s willing to work.

 

Specifications

Make/Model: Scania P420 low-roof day cab

Engine: Scania DC 12 15 SCR Euro 5 11.7lt in-line 6 cylinder

Output: 420hp (309kW) @ 1,800rpm; 1,550ft-lb (2,100Nm) @ 1,400rpm

Transmission: Scania 12 speed with Opticruise Autoshift and five-stage hydraulic retarder

Suspension: Front: Parabolic springs with 7,100kg rating;

Rear: four-bag air bag with 21,000kg rating

GVM: 26,100kg

GCM: 70,000kg

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