MAN’s new flagship TGX is gunning for boosted driver acceptance with a new cab, boosted fuel efficiency and a host of other improvements. We take it for a test drive…

At the recent launch even at the Port of Bilbao, Spain, MAN had a number of TGX available to test drive. We took a 470 bhp tractor unit loaded to 32 tonnes for an hour’s tour of the city and its environs to get a feel for how it performs.

Climbing into the cab, the access steps are now recessed into a stairway (saving your shins), and we spotted a set of buttons on bottom of driver’s door which enables control of hazard lights, adjustment of manoeuvring lights etc without having to climb up into cab. A useful touch.

The new driving position is comfortable – at 6 ft 4 inches tall, we appreciated the extra level of adjustment in the steering column and driver’s seat. But annoyingly, there’s nowhere obvious to put your phone. We suppose the idea is to hook it in via Bluetooth and stick it in a drawer – but in such a high-tech digital cab, the omission of a dedicated holder or induction charging pad is a missed opportunity.

Once strapped in, we navigated out of the Bilbao Exhibition Centre and headed for the main highway – and were struck at once by how light the steering is. It took no effort at all to weave the unit around the roundabouts, curving access roads and out into the main lanes leading out of town.

In fact, the steering may well be a touch too light for our tastes; once we were up to 90 kmh on the highway, the TGX felt a bit twitchy on the bends. We’ll see how it fares once we have a longer test drive.

Bilbao is mountainous and we were frequently climbing long, sweeping hills. The 470 bhp D26 six-cylinder lump behaved well at 32 tonnes. With nearly 15 bhp per tonne, it mostly took the climbs in its stride – though we laboured a bit on some of the steeper roads with the transmission in Efficiency mode. However, setting the fast-changing TraXon gearbox to Performance mode smoothed things out.

Visibility in the new cab is much better than outgoing models. We were particularly impressed with the new mirrors. These have been repositioned slightly backwards, and the space between cluster and truck has been opened up to remove the blindspot that plagued previous-gen TGs.

Similar to our experience with the New Actros, the digital dashboard took no time at all to get used to. Controls on the steering wheel are intuitive, and we reckon MAN is onto a winner with the new SmartSelect dial. It’s excellent – the wrist rest makes it very comfortable to use while driving, and not having to move our hand to poke at the screen meant our eyes remained on the road for much longer. It’s also really zippy, with no hint of lag.

We were told our big TGX was loaded with new safety kit, such as the Lane Change Assist which pulls the truck back into lane if it should start to drift, and a new Turn Assist which can alert the driver to pedestrians, cyclists or vehicles alongside the truck when changing lanes or overtaking. Sadly, these weren’t operating in our test vehicle so we’ll be sure to test them out next time.

We came away impressed with the new TGX. It’s comfortable, quiet and very much designed with the driver in mind. Long-term MAN fans will be pleased – and we reckon the new cab will do much to convince nay-sayers of the step-up in quality and usability.