Trucking heads to Bavaria to test drive some of MAN’s new range of trucks aimed at construction and timber applications, as well as a couple of competent road-going general haulage machines. 

MAN’s new range was launched in February and is starting to make its presence felt in fleets – and is understandably getting plenty of plaudits. In October, Trucking was able to dodge lockdowns and head to southern Germany for a day of driving some of its new trucks aimed at the construction and timber haulage sectors.

Most of the trucks available to drive were of German market specification – but with a few slight spec changes, many still could be of interest to the UK market. However, away from the quarry, there was also a chance to put two general haulage trucks through their paces, and they could be of real interest to UK hauliers.

TGX 18.580 4×2 artic

This tractor unit could have some real appeal to owner-drivers in the UK, especially as a 26.580. The only thing against it is if you are going to opt for the biggest engine in the MAN range (ie, the 15.26-litre, six-cylinder D38), you might be tempted to go one step above and order the top-of-the-range 26.640.

But the 580 engine is a good call if you want big power without going over the top. As a 4×2 at 40 tonnes GVW, it offers more grunt than you’re ever likely to need – but at 44 (and who knows, possibly 48) tonnes, it’s got its merits.

The truck we drove was the ‘Individual Lion’ model aimed at small fleets and O-Ds. It has the GX cab (XXL in old money), which is the biggest cab in the MAN portfolio. It was fitted with the aero-package, LED headlights, electro auxiliary air con, roof lightbars, microwave, additional storage, coffee-maker and hammock – all aimed at improving driver comfort.

We’d not driven a 580 in the new range yet (previous drives of the new MANs had been of the 470/510 models, which are the best for the UK market, and the 640 for the ‘status’ truck), so we were keen to get a decent drive of it.

We’ve said before, the new MANs are a remarkable step change in quality – certainly inside. This 580 with a few extra creature comforts further proves that point. It handles very well and is a smooth drive. It pulls superbly and is easy to handle. We took it on a very convoluted drive that included plenty of town driving, some of which was actually quite tight indeed, but its handling was spot on. It was a lovely drive and if we’d been asked to take it back to the UK there and then, we’d have jumped at the chance!

TGS 18.330 box van

This 4×2 rigid box van was a bit of an interesting machine, because it really ought to have been a TGM with the 6.9-litre D08 engine at 320 bhp – like the tipper we drove earlier in the day (see page xx). However, it was fitted with the lowest output of the new 9-litre D15 engine at 330 bhp. Yet as a 4×2 rigid with this size engine and a short wheelbase, it wasn’t really suitable for drawbar operation; yet it was over-spec’d for an 18-tonner.

However, the concept of a day cab 4×2 as an 18-tonner will appeal to UK operators, be it as a TGM or a TGS and with a powerful D0836 or the lower powered D15. The latter engine in its top 400 bhp output would be ideal if you are pulling drawbar trailers, but not at gross 44-tonne weights – you’ll need a D26 TGS/TGX for that! 

The 18-tonner we drove was a day cab aimed at town deliveries, and is the kind of truck that could be a dying species soon as this bracket of vehicle is ripe to be handed over to electric power. Indeed, the first such MANs are being evaluated as we speak.

Again it performed well and of course, it had power to spare – and it was easy to handle. The cab was nice and quiet. The day cab was a little bit cramped inside, but unless you are doing long distances, then it shouldn’t be a major issue. Sleeper cabs are always an option if you do want more room; and on the TGS (as opposed to the TGM), you can have the extended day cab which might be that happy balance for giving the driver more room.

TGX 26.640 timber truck

Because of various travel restrictions from several European countries, the total turn-out of journalists for this trip was a whopping two (and both of us from the UK!), so mercifully we didn’t have to queue to get behind the wheels of the trucks, or have to restrict test drives both in length and quantity. It was the Carlsberg of press trips!

That meant our highlight was probably the 26.640 6×4 drawbar timber truck, and Trucking was first in this with an extended drive from the press centre to the test site at a quarry about an hour away.

The truck was loaded at 40 tonnes on five axles and may well be of interest to the home market. That said, any UK operator wanting a timber truck as a drawbar would most typically opt for a 6×2 tag axle as the prime mover and would most likely have a tri-axle fixed drawbar. This test truck had a 6×4 prime mover pulling a single-axle dolly and a single-axle trailer. So this wasn’t really UK-spec, but not far off it. Engine-wise, the D38 might appeal to operators in its 580 and 640 bhp outputs, but again the D26 at 510 bhp might be the best bet.

These days UK operators don’t tend to go for drawbars with dollies, but we have to admit this handled really well and once we’d got comfortable with how the trailer follows obediently, even being in a left-hand drive on the other side if the road, it was a relaxing drive.

Part of that extended drive included a decent run along the motorway and the truck was wonderful. It handled well, the cruise control was easy to use and responsive. 

Spec’d correctly for the UK, MAN’s TGX as a rigid drawbar could have a lot of appeal, not just for timber operators.

The mirrors are excellent. MAN says digital mirror camera technology is “on the way”, but for the time being the old set-up is the norm – and there’s not much to fault them on. The cab ambiance in the new MANs is superb and more than a match for the Swedes.

TGS 26.510 6×4 rigid

This was an interesting truck and again one that probably might only have limited applications in the UK, but nevertheless it was worth driving. Although a 6×4, the rear axle was both single-tyred and steering so it looked every inch a 6×2 tag, but was in fact a double drive. This has benefits both in traction and manoeuvrability – and if the 6×4 TGX was overspec’d for the timber market, this might be a sensible solution.

Under the narrower 2.3 m single-bunk sleeper cab was the D26 12.4-litre straight-six in its top rating of 510 bhp. For a simple six-wheel rigid, that’s plenty; but trucks like this will often pull drawbars, so in that respect it is pretty much bang on.

We didn’t have a long drive of this truck, but we sampled it within the quarry confines which allowed us to concentrate more on how it coped off-road and in tight situations – and to be fair, it did that with some aplomb.

This axle layout would be ideal for quarry, forestry, construction and aggregates use and could also be of appeal to some utilities if they need to move heavier loads with some off-road or dirt-track driving.

TGM 18.320 4×2 tipper

This diminutive 4×2 tipper was a funky little truck. It had MAN’s smaller D0836 six-cylinder engine, but in its top output of 320 bhp (it’s also available at 250 and 280 bhp) – so again, a bit more power than you need for such a small truck. There is the smaller four-cylinder 4.6-litre D0834 engine if required with outputs of 150, 180 and 220 bhp.

We only had a short drive around the quarry, but we liked this truck. For an 18-tonner, it’s well spec’d and has plenty of power without having an unnecessary heavy engine. It could pull a small trailer as well if necessary.

It had a 3.575 m wheelbase, a 7.5-tonne front axle and 13-tonne rear axle. Understandably it had the narrow day cab; sleepers are available, and in most applications probably more necessary. One spec this truck could excel at is a road sweeper, many of which now need sleepers for working away at construction sites. 

Our drive was not long enough – or varied enough – to give a full appraisal; but on the short spin we had, it has a lot of potential.

TGS 18.470 4x4H

Having driven the 26.640 out to the quarry and had a few spins around the site in some of the other trucks, our ride back to the press centre was in another interesting model: an 18.470 with TGS cab. This vehicle is a 4×2 on the tarmac, but can be a 4×4 off-road.

It does this by using MAN’s HydroDrive system. This is a switchable hydrostatic front-axle drive which provides greater traction and safety when entering and leaving construction sites, when driving on forest and field tracks, on gradients and on slippery road surfaces.

When driving downhill with HydroDrive switched on, the continuous brake also works on the front axle, stabilising the vehicle. MAN says the fuel consumption and wear is similar to that of a conventional rear axle drive, with the only difference being the weight is slightly higher. Specifying this system has no impact on the vehicle’s body height and, as it has a low overall height, the deep centre of gravity and therefore optimal driving stability all remain the same.

HydroDrive is connected to the gearbox and does not have any impact on the engine PTO. The means that it can stay free for other industry-specific applications. When compared with a switchable, mechanical all-wheel drive, the HydroDrive is up to 750 kg lighter.

As well as the standard hypoid axle, MAN is also offering a weight-optimised, light hypoid axle base which allows for a weight-saving of 180 kg compared with a standard tandem models, and can even save up to 280 kg when compared with the planetary axle versions. The ground clearance is nevertheless similar to that of a planetary axle. There is also an optional 10-tonne front axle available for the TGS as a 6×4 or 8×4, or 6×4 TGX.

Before we took it out onto the road, we had a spin around the quarry hauling a tri-axle half-pipe tipper. This was a typical German spec – a short trailer with the distance between the drive axle and the lead trailer axle shorter than the wheelbase of the tractor unit itself!

We were able to try out the HydroDrive system and it was very good, helping lift the truck up the steep hills, with some tight curves to boot. It’s a good system as it gives you extra traction without too much extra weight, and could appeal to some operators in the UK if it becomes an available option. The front axle is rated at eight tonnes, the drive axle at 13 tonnes – so again, hardly a typical UK spec.

But once on the road, the truck handles just like any other 4×2. With 470 bhp from its D26 engine, there is more than enough for 40-tonne work, with the 510 bhp an option should you need it. If running at 44 tonnes with some off-road work, such as aggregates or timber, then that could well be the case.

The one truck we didn’t get to drive was the TGS 35.400 8×4 rigid tipper with the D15 engine, in typical German spec with an incredibly short wheelbase. That was because after its first trip around the quarry, the propshaft broke and the truck was incapacitated for the rest of the day!

Verdict

Despite only having a relatively minor facelift to exterior of the cab, the new MAN range is still a big upgrade from the models they replace. Inside the cabs are wonderful – a real improvement – and that is what counts for many; especially the drivers! For operators, if their drivers have a good working space, then they will be just as happy.

The drivelines are varied with the D0834, D0836, D15, D26 and D38 engines covering a wide range from 150 to 640 bhp, with just about every sensible option in between.

The new models are already entering traffic with UK hauliers and we are hearing – from several independent sources, and none from Swindon – that they are doing exceptionally well on fuel. We’ve also had an insight into pricing which is positive news as well. We have said this range of MAN trucks brings Scania quality with MAN prices, and that makes them a very serious proposition to any haulier.

There’s been no ground-breaking new cab, like the Scania or new Iveco S-WAY, which means many might still be a little ambivalent towards MAN. But based on these drives, plus those we have had both in the UK and Spain, we think anyone not seriously giving the Munich manufacturer a second look would be doing themselves a disservice.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Model TGS 18.470 4x4H tractor TGS 26.510 6x4H-4 rigid  TGX 26.640 6×4 rigid  TGM 18.320 4×2 rigid  TGS 18.330 4×2 rigid TGX 26.580 4×2 tractor
Design GVW/GCW 19,000 kg, 40,000 kg 31,500 kg, 44,000 kg 35,500 kg, 44,000 kg 19,000 kg, 35,000 kg 21200 kg, 35,000 kg 19,000 kg, 40,000 kg
Chassis 3600 mm 4800 mm 4800 mm 3575 mm 4500 mm 3600 mm
Front axle 8000 kg 9500 kg 9500 kg 7500 kg 9200 kg 8000 kg
Rear axle 13,000 kg 13,000 kg drive, 9000 kg trailing  13,000 kg drives 13,000 kg drive  13,000 kg drive 11,000 kg drive
Gearbox TipMatic 12.28 TipMatic 12.28 Tipmatic 12.30 Tipmatic 12.12 OD Tipmatic 12.26 DD Tipmatic 12 DD
Engine D26 12.4-litre straight six D26 12.4-litre straight six D38 15.3-litre straight six D08 8.9-litre straight six D15 9-litre straight six D38 15.3-litre straight six
Max power 470 hp at 1800 rpm 510 hp at 1800 rpm 640 hp at 1800 rpm 320 hp at 2200 rpm 330 hp at 1800 rpm 580 hp at 1800 rpm
Max torque 2400 Nm at 930-1350 rpm 2600 Nm at 930-1350 rpm 3000 Nm at 900-1400 rpm 1250 NM at 1200-1700 rpm 1600 Nm at 1000-1400 rpm 2900 Nm at 900-1380 rpm
Cab FN 2.3m sleeper FN 2.3m sleeper GM 2.5m sleeper  CC 2.3m day NN 2.3m day GX 2.5m sleeper 
Body/trailer type Meiller tri-axle half pipe tipper Palfinger hook-loader  Doll drawbar timber Meiller three-way tipper Walther box  tri-axle curtainside trailer
Features  HydroDrive on front axle single tyre rear steer drive axle double drive prime mover 1500 kg tail lift Individual Lion package

Articles

Kelsey Media Ltd
The Granary, Downs Court
Yalding Hil, Yalding
Kent, ME18 6AL
01959 541444
www.kelsey.co.uk

© 2021 Kelsey Media Ltd