Mercedes-Benz’s Euro 6 Atego

Small distribution trucks are the unsung heroes of haulage, and the new Atego promises many improvements. We put it to the test on its home turf

By Dougie Rankine

The Mercedes-Benz Atego has been a big success for the company since it launched in 1997. During that time, it has evolved into a tough, reliable small truck which forms the backbone of many distribution fleets. 2014 heralds the arrival of a new range, complimenting the firm’s new Actros, Arocs and Antos models. This comprehensive line-up is able to tackle any job you can think of when it comes to transport, on- or off-road. While it’s easy to get excited about the big, Continent-crossing Actros or mud-plugging Arocs, we should not forget about the little Atego.

The roles these small trucks perform are equally important in the logistics supply chain as those of their larger brothers. In today’s world, pretty much everything we consume, use or own spends time in a truck at some point, with the final part of the journey often made in 7.5-tonne vehicles like the Atego.

Mercedes-Benz’s Euro 6 Atego

With grandfather rights to drive a class C1 7.5-tonne truck dating back 17 years to 1997, and Driver CPC imminent, the widespread appeal of such vehicles has dropped in the UK in recent years. Remember, these trucks could also use the outside lane of the motorway and were not governed by speed limiters!

The C1 class still has an important role to play in light haulage, but as it is just as much effort to gain or train a driver to a Class C licence (old Class 2), many hauliers choose slightly larger vehicles in the 10- to 12-tonne bracket which share the same chassis as a 7.5-tonner, but with much improved payload. In many cases, the only way to tell the difference is by checking the number of wheel studs or badges on
the doors.

Mercedes has high hopes for its comprehensively redesigned Atego, which shares only the same cab shell and chassis as the outgoing model. It ranges from 7.5 tonnes to 16 tonnes in weight range and offers both four- and six-cylinder engines. In the UK, the smaller models will be the volume sellers. European operators are often seen running the likes of a 16-tonne Atego in wagon-and-drag format; you see quite a few on those shores, but it’s not a set-up which has ever found favour in great numbers in the UK.

june coverRead the rest of this feature in the June 2014 issue of Trucking. Buy the magazine here