MAN’s latest truck range has been expanded with multi-wheel rigid chassis for tippers, skips and construction. We have been out for a drive in a few of new models…

The rule of new truck launches is show off the big-power, big-cab tractor units first; then the rigids. And then the tippers.

Having done just that with the New Generation TGX models, MAN has now started to woo customers in the construction market with its range of tippers and skip trucks, and in the summer put on a roadshow taking several vehicles to its dealers for ride and drive events for customers old and new.

Trucking was able to tag on to one in Peterborough.

There were six trucks and one lightweight TGE available for driving, and we managed to take four of them out. Luckily, all four were different and the two we didn’t cram in were essentially variations of the same theme.

We drove some of MAN’s New Generation tippers back in October, but that was in Germany – the trucks were all to a very German specification (short wheelbases, beefed-up axles and so on) and unlikely to be sold in any quantity here in the UK.

Conversely, the trucks we had charge of at the Peterborough event were 100 per cent tailor-made for UK operators. Also, many were road-going trucks, whereas in Germany all were pretty much aimed for those with a sizeable amount of off-road driving such as quarries, forests and landfill sites.

That said, there was an 8×4 with that kind of spec in mind!

TGS 32.400 8×4 tipper

The first truck we had charge of was a TGS 8×4 with the biggest version of the D15 9-litre straight-six engine (D1556) rated at 400 bhp. This truck is aimed squarely at tipper operators who want maximum payload and don’t have too much arduous terrain to contend with. It has a standard thickness chassis of 7 mm, the lighter and smaller engine and a lightweight body.

It has a dropped-beam front axle and hypoid single-reduction rear axle. The transmission was via MAN’s 12-speed Tipmatic automatic gearbox. The body was a Thompson aluminium tipper with Edbro CX15 front-mounted tipping gear with a split tailgate.

However, the truck did have a sleeper cab; so if you really aren’t desperate for every fraction of payload and you don’t need nights out, then a day cab will save you a few more kilos. But more and more 8×4 tippers have sleepers as they are usually better for resale. Plus, even in this sector, more jobs require the odd night out or more each week if you are working at a site well away from your company’s base.

Because this was a general road-going tipper, it has the cab sitting much lower and the -step entry was easy – with the bottom step fixed as opposed to flexible, which is the favoured option on heavy-duty muckaway tippers these days.

Depending on the make and construction of the tipper body you specify, this chassis realistically enables a 20-tonne payload – even with that sleeper cab – which is something of a holy grail among eight-wheel tipper operators these days.

We took the truck for a good mixed route taking in single- and dual-carriageway running, so enabling up to get up to the maximum 56 mph. The truck was fully loaded, so we were able to get a full feel for it in real-life conditions.

It pulled well and handled well. The turning circle was OK for this type of truck – tridems are a better bet for those needing more manoeuvrability – but it was good. Remember: these things are never going to turn on a sixpence.

The truck had MAN’s new dashboard with the multi-function control – a feature on the heavy trucks. The super-manoeuvrable steering wheel was also spec’d, which is almost taken as a given on heavy trucks these days, but is most welcome as it makes getting in and out of the cab so much easier.

There isn’t a lot to fault this truck on. Some will moan that the cab is 20 years old, but we don’t buy that because inside it’s fantastic.

TGL 8.190 tipper

Our next drive was at the complete opposite end of the scale: a TGL 8.190 4×2 7.5-tonne rigid, also fitted with a Thompson Roadmaster tipper body. Despite having a relatively big cab for this weight sector, these trucks are popular with councils, builders’ merchants and utilities where payload is not always critical.

Sadly the TGL was unloaded, so we couldn’t get a full feel of it; but we were not at too much of a disadvantage as it could only carry about three tonnes.

The D0834 four-cylinder, 4.6-litre engine pumps out an impressive 192 bhp – a more than adequate rating for this weight limit – and 750 Nm of torque. In fact, the 160 bhp engine might be a better bet, while the 220 bhp version is probably way too much. A six-speed TipMatic gearbox was fitted.

The chassis is 4.5 mm thick, and again dropped-beam front axle and hypoid single-reduction rear axles were present. Tyres were 215/75s throughout.

With so much power and not a lot of weight, this little truck absolutely flew out the blocks and was up to speed in double-quick time. With this weight of vehicle, even as a tipper, we decided to concentrate mostly on city roads, plus of course we had many more roads legally open to us given the number of weight restrictions that kick in a 7.5 tonnes. You have to keep an eye on the speed, but the cruise control works well in reining the truck back.

It handled exceptionally well, which you’d expect from an MAN. The cab is superb for this class and has that ‘big truck’ feel so many people like. That said, for some applications, it may be too big, too over-specified and certainly too heavy. We had a day cab, but you can order it with a sleeper or high-roof sleeper even at this weight level. Crew cabs are also an option. Visibility is superb from the large windscreen, and also the large mirrors.

The TGL – and its rival, the Mercedes-Benz Atego – are probably the best 7.5-tonners for comfort and driver-friendliness, but they aren’t quite as popular as the DAF LF or Iveco Eurocargo because of cost, weight and suitability for many roles. The TGL is, however, also available at up to 12 tonnes.

TGM 18.250 skip truck

The truck we were really excited to drive was a short-wheelbase 18-tonne 4×2 skip truck. We don’t get too many drives of such vehicles, so it was at the top of our wish list. We took this vehicle around many of the local roads and out to nearby Crowland for both evaluation and photography purposes.

Once more, it was sadly unloaded – although, like the TGL, its Hyva NG2012XL skip-loader bodywork did account for a good few kilos of weight over and above a simple flatbed or box-bodied TGM.

At 250 bhp, the engine in this machine was the smallest output of the six-cylinder D0836 6.9-litre (which is also the only D0836 available in the TGL range). The six-cylinder engine is available in three outputs: 250, 290 and 320 bhp. Given the TGM goes up to 26-tonne 6x2s and 6x4s, then that choice of engines should suit all needs. 250 bhp is more than enough for a skip truck, which traditionally tend to do short-distance local work.

This TGM was a pleasurable drive. It feels more ‘truck like’ than the TGL as you sit so much higher, so have a better view of the road ahead. But the cab is ideal for this kind of work: it’s roomy enough, even for a two-man crew (relatively rare on skip work), and well-appointed. It also has the new MAN infotainment screen and other features we have come to expect in the TGA models.

TGS 35.510 8×4 tipper

Unlike Volvo, Scania and Mercedes, which all have bespoke designation or models for their heavy-duty chassis, the only thing that tells you an MAN model is aimed at construction, muckaway and other off-road work is the badge designation – which for an eight-wheeler is 35, as opposed to 32. This implies the chassis is set up for 35 tonnes GVW and not 32 (although the reality is in the UK, 32 is the maximum).

Of course, aside from the badge, the sheer size of this truck also gives it away. Put this 35.510 next to the 32.400 and it’s obviously much taller. In fact, it’s very similar to the German-spec machines we drove back in Munich in October, although with a much longer wheelbase.

The 35.510 had a day cab – you wouldn’t expect these vehicles to do many nights out. It had the 12.4-litre D2676 engine, which pumps out an impressive 510 bhp. That might be too much for some (in which case a 35.430 or, more realistically, a 35.470 might be a better bet), but the truth is you can get a Volvo FMX, a Scania XT, a DAF CF, a Merc Arocs, an Iveco X-WAY (or even a T-WAY now) and a Renault Range K in the 480-540 bhp bracket. This is a sector where power demand is definitely creeping up.

The 35.510 had three-step entry, the bottom of which was flexible – a must for the kind of work it’s expected to do. If fixed, the chances are it would soon get damaged or dislodged. However, it’s still a heck of climb up to get your foot onto that bottom step, so you need to be ultra-vigilant when getting in and out.

Inside, the cab is a lovely environment. This NN day cab has plenty of room and a sizeable amount of space behind the seats for putting a thick coat, hard hat and even a set of boots. It does have a lack of usable storage and cup-holders, mind.

On the road, the truck was fully loaded, but to be honest you wouldn’t notice – it had a sprightly feel to it. We took it out on the A605 from Peterborough where there are a couple of decent hills, and while its speed understandably dropped to about 35 mph on inclines, it certainly didn’t struggle with a full load on.

The next stage of our route was a selection of rural roads. With so much house building going on, trucks this size and weight are often being expected to cover road types you may not usually expect. That said, we did get some strained looks when we couldn’t resist stopping in one of the many picturesque villages for some pictures. You could almost hear the house prices tumbling!

After negotiating the villages, it was back onto the busy A1 for a full-speed return back to base. Here again, it held its own more than comfortably and its ability to keep up with the artics is useful for other road users, that’s for sure.

The engine brake is very effective, and the visibility is great as well. Coupled with that excellent acceleration, this TGS gave a very stress-free and driving experience from start to finish.

Verdict

We make no secret the new MAN range has exceeded our expectations. So far as the general haulage trucks are concerned, this is more than just a makeover. Inside, the cabs are much better than before and MAN has done a great job modernising their 20-year-old bones. It’s a real hit, and the numbers of models we are seeing on the road proves operators are taking to the new vehicles as well.

Yes, there is a ‘new truck bounce’ – every manufacturer gets that when they bring something new to the market – but tipper operators and drivers are no fools. They know they want: robustness, payload, great fuel consumption and good dealer back-up. But if the chassis cannot stand up to the rigours of the job, they don’t get a look in. That’s why some loved Hinos – they were built like battleships.

These MANs ticks all those boxes. The build quality and robustness is very good indeed. Chassis price is more than competitive, fuel returns are impressive and payloads are good – 20 tonnes for a sleeper-cabbed 8×4 is not to be sniffed at.

We’d have liked to have seen some tridem chassis at this event as the configuration is growing in popularity. But in short, we really like these MANs. They are as good and other chassis on the market, and in many cases will represent a better investment in the long run. We’d advise you check them out, even if you’ve never been an MAN fan.

 

We like

  • Build quality
  • Cab interiors
  • Performance
  • Affordability

 

We don’t like

  • A tridem would have been nice
  • No cup holders
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