Economy is key with Actros 2658 – Customer Review
Words and photography by Howard Shanks
Mount Buller Alpine Area Transport owner Evan Lowing cites exceptional fuel economy as the standout feature of their new Actros 2658 6×4 that joined the fleet six months ago.
Northeast Victoria was sweltering in a heat wave that had engulfed the state for the past three weeks. There was some relief from the stifling heat inside the cabin of the 2658, which was giving its air conditioner system a thorough work out.
You might remember senior driver Paul Thomas, from the Frightliner Coronado FL114 review we did about 12 months ago. You might also recall he suggested we come back and check out their new Actros 2658 when it arrived. So in the middle of one of the hottest Victorian summers on record we dropped into see how the new Actros was travelling.
“The first thing you’ll notice with the 2658 StreamSpace cabin is much wider at 2.5 metres,” Paul began. “There is plenty of room to move around in the cabin.”
The overall stance of the Actros is dynamic, muscular and finished with four roof mounted driving lights. The imposing grill is traversed by five horizontal stripes, finished with the optional chrome flashing, while the three-pointed star takes center stage and dominates the flat front.
The side view is also very catchy as there is a beautiful flow between the front section and the flanks. The bumper, door wind deflector and the entrance particularly impressed both Paul and me as they merge seamlessly into one another to form a single unit.
At the model’s launch, we were informed that most of the exterior modifications were made to improve the truck’s aerodynamics and that the Actros was extensively tested in a wind tunnel.
Paul and MBAT owner Even Lowing can testify that the new aerodynamic design, the overall efficiency has also improved fuel economy significantly over the previous model.
Paul says, hop inside and you’ll quickly find one of the best-kitted European truck cabins available on the market. There is also ample space inside and thanks to the flat floor, the driver can move through the cabin effortlessly. To maximise the ergonomics, the dashboard features a wrap round design and is fitted with all the necessary controls, which are within easy reach and have a logical layout.
The instrument panel design, materials and layout are class leading. When equipped with all the ‘toys’ of the superior trim levels, the truck’s ambiance is impressive, with big, clear gauges, an uncluttered center stack and tasteful trims spanning the dashboard. Combine that with the classy leather, complete with contrast piping, and you’ll see why this Actros cabin is nothing short of excellent.
The functional area of the cockpit is finished in practical anthracite while the rear, ceiling and area around the co-driver’s seat are appointed in a light almond beige colour.
The sleeper compartment in the MBAT 2658 Actros is equipped with a full inner-spring mattress, however, Evan says there little time to spend in the bunk on the short run from Mansfield to Melbourne but adds on the longer interstate runs you get a good night’s sleep in the bunk.
Nuts and Bolts
Under the cabin, is the all-new OM473 16-litre in-line six-cylinder engine, that is built off the same base as the Detroit DD15 family, which features in Freightliner and Western Star models, sharing much of the same block but featuring a unique head, turbo and other elements.
The new OM 473 uses turbo-compounding – essentially a second turbine located downstream of the exhaust-gas turbocharger. It uses the exhaust gas temperature that is maintained after the gas has flowed through the main turbocharger. The power is transferred via a shaft and a hydro-dynamic clutch to the engine’s gear drive and thus directly to the crankshaft.
This helps it produce 1844 lb/ft of torque at a little more than 800rpm, with nearly the entire pulling power on tap from around 900 to 1400rpm.
The engine has a ribbed, grey, cast iron block; the head is made from compacted graphite iron (CGI) and uses 38 clamping bolts to handle cylinder pressures of more than 2900 psi. The single-piece pistons are made of steel and travel inside wet cylinder liners, and the gear drive is mounted in the output side of the engine. It turns hollow dual overhead camshafts made of composite materials to minimise rotational losses.
The six-hole injectors are controlled by the Mercedes-Benz X-Pulse system that continually adjusts events for each cylinder using ‘rate shaping’ techniques. These operations change the injection timing, amount, quantity, and pressure based on operating conditions to maximise the power delivery, fuel mileage, and durability of the heavy-duty OM 473 in all driving conditions, ranging from gridlock to steep grade climbs
Getting all this power to the back wheels is the task of Mercedes-Benz G281 Powershift 3 automated manual transmission, 12-speed direct drive. These are upgraded versions of the already successful transmissions of the previous model. These new ones are tweaked to offer a faster and more precise response. On the road, the automated transmissions are a competent ally and require a minimal amount of intervention.
The rear axles are Mercedes-Benz 440-hypoid drive, which have been running successfully in previous models. This particular Actros came with long legs 2.533:1 specked for optimum fuel economy.
Interactive Dash Display
The ‘brains’ of the new Actros are incredibly clever and take most of the mundane tasks out of the job, for instance the truck is permanently kept in check by a host of high-tech electronic nannies which include the adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, Stability Control Assist and the revolutionary Active Brake Assist with autonomous emergency braking when stationary obstacles or moving obstacles ahead are detected. Also, there is now no need to lift the grill to perform daily checks. The interactive dash display shows how much oil is in the engine and advises of its viscosity.
“When we picked up the Actros, the salesman, Tim Ede, told us not to go poking around under the cabin,” Paul said. “If it needs anything bring it back to us and we’ll service and fix it.”
Like their Freightliner Coronado FL114, the new Actros is on a full service agreement. “The full service agreement make perfect business sense,” Evan explained. “I know the exact cost the Actros each month, there are no hidden expenses. We can manage out cash flow according ling and we have an agreed buy back figure at the end of the term. It’s just really good business.”
On the Road
There is no question that the vision out of the Actros is first class. The inclusion of wide mirrors gives terrific rear vision and in addition these can be moved in small increments for reversing.
The ride in the cabin is first class. There is virtually no engine or road noise. This truck was fitted with an onboard fridge located under the bunk that can be accessed easily while driving.
Sometime back I’d read a report where a 2648 Actros, (the V6 476hp model) pulling a single trailer loaded to 37 GCM, did a run up the Hume Freeway from Melbourne to Sydney with an experienced driver, the short story is the average fuel economy was 2.2km/l. Not long after that trip another was scheduled in the same truck and similar load only this time some driver training had been given. It boasted at the time an average trip speed of 80.3km/h with a total trip time of 11.2 hours with 2.53km/l. Needless to say a marked improvement in fuel economy.
Now I told that story to paint a picture of just how efficient this new OM473 powered Actros is, and also to reiterate how important proper driver training is and how much it can save.
“Once we had some instruction on how to set up the Actros’ ECOROLL function to operate through its maximum parameters, we really started noticing huge fuel economy gains,” Paul explained.
On a similar run up the Hume Freeway, in the new MBAT 2658 Actros the overall trip statistics were, 61 Tonne GCM, average 2.2km/l, 826km in 9.33 hours with an average speed of 87km/h. If you recall the story I told earlier, it paints a very good picture for the new OM473 powered Actros and really validates the information Paul explained about Mercedes-Benz economy and efficiency. Yet it also brings home the importance of driver training as each engine and driveline from all manufacturers has particular peculiarities.
What do all those number mean? “Firstly that driving economically does not penalise trip times,” Evan explained. “Secondly we’re saving approximately 0.4km/l in fuel, compared to our older truck, which roughly translates to saving half the truck’s payment in fuel costs per month.”
Low cost of ownership is the key focus with the new Actros range, and Mercedes-Benz says the improved reliability of the truck along with extended service intervals mean that their service-maintenance contracts are very attractive packages.
The new generation Mercedes-Benz Actros moves the German reliability heritage further. The truck’s cabin is more comfortable than ever and the Euro 6 engines are a strong statement for the Actros’s efficiency and are arguably the most efficient Euro-6 style on the market at the moment. The exterior design is also modern and sleek, as well as the Actros being available in a wide range of configurations.
Make: Mercedes Benz
Model: Actros 2658LS 6×4
Engine: MB OM473 16-Litre
Horsepower: 578hp (425kw) @ 1600 rpm
Torque: 2065lb/ft (2800Nm) @ 1100 rpm
Gearbox: MB G281 12-speed direct
Retarder: Engine Brake – standard system
Front Axle: MB 8.0T
Front Suspension: Leaf Parabolic 8000kg with anti roll bar
Rear Axles: MB 440 Hypoid with diff locks to both axles
Rear Axle Ratio: 2.533
Rear Suspension: MB Air-suspension
Brakes: MB electronically controlled disc brakes
Safety: ASR with integrated ABS and traction control
Adblue tank: Polished Stainless Steel 110 litres
Fuel tank: Brushed Alloy (1050 litres)
Cabin: L-Cab streamline space 2.5m flat floor
Bumper: Polished alloy bulbar