Trucking scoops the first UK drive of MAN’s new-generation TGM – plus top-power TGX – for a spin around Exeter as part of the German manufacturer’s Great Britain Roadshow

MAN launched its new TG range in Bilbao, Spain back in February 2020 – just before the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Europe and lockdown restrictions were put in place. While we covered the launch in detail and took a good trial of the left-hand drive TGX with 470 bhp D26 engine (Trucking, April 2020 issue), we have been looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the right-hand drive UK-spec vehicles to see what they can do.

Unsurprisingly, MAN’s original UK launch plans have been frustrated by COVID-19. So instead of bringing people to the trucks, the German manufacturer decided to take the trucks to the people as part of a recent road trip around the UK.

Kicking off in Scotland, the roadshow has travelled the length and breadth of the country and Ireland to give as many operators (and us lowly press types) as possible some close-up time with the new models.

We caught up with the roadshow when it arrived in Exeter in September, right at the end of its tour of mainland Britain. The next leg was to cross over to Ireland – but the day before they hopped on the ferry, we’d booked some time with a top-power TGX 26.640 6×2.

When we pulled up at Exeter’s Westpoint event grounds on a bright and sunny mid-week afternoon, we found luck was on our side as, alongside the TGX, MAN had also managed to secure the first bodied new-gen TGM for our visit. While TGM was present at the Bilbao launch, British press had not yet had the chance to take it for a spin. This fleet-spec medium-weight distribution chassis was fresh out of the bodyshop and Trucking had the exclusive first drive.

TGM specs

This example was a TGM 18.250 4×2 BL with 6575 mm wheelbase, 7100 kg front axle and 11,500 kg rear axle. Bodied with a curtainsider and tail-lift, the payload on offer was bang-on 10 tonnes.

The truck was fitted with a Compact CC cab with MMT infotainment system, multi-function steering wheel and air-con. The spec was fairly basic, with fabric seat covers and nothing in the way of bells and whistles – which made a change, as we’re normally presented with blinged-up cabs for press tests. This TGM was rocking a more usual fleet-level spec.

Driveline was an MAN D08 250 bhp Euro 6d engine which delivered 1050 Nm of max torque through an MAN TipMatic 12-speed automated gearbox. Fuel capacity was 300 litres, with 35 litres of AdBlue in the additive tank. The truck had disc brakes all around and was riding on a leaf-sprung front axle and air-suspended rear axle.

On the road

The nature of the roadshow meant our test route for both TGM and TGX was not long by any means, but it did involve some motorway and steep hill work that would give some idea of how the trucks handle.

Firing up the TGM, we left the Westpoint centre and picked up the A3052 through Clyst St Mary, heading for the M5. Though it’s a small option, there’s a decent amount of room in Compact CC cab and we had no problem getting comfortable – even though we’re a bit on the lanky side. It also offers good all-round visibility, with A-pillar blindspots further reduced from the previous model. Though a bit basic, the dash is well-arranged and easy to use, and fixtures and fittings feel hard-wearing and built to withstand the rigours of a daily distribution grind. 

Reaching the roundabout at the end of Sidmouth Road, we headed left onto the M5 South for some motorway running. Sadly, the TGM was running empty so we can’t yet comment on its performance under load, but the driving position was comfortable and the TGM felt sure-footed as we picked up speed.

Heading onto the A38 Devon Expressway, we soon split off onto the A380 for a long, sweeping climb up Telegraph Hill. The TGM fairly flew up it, and at the top we pulled off at Haldon Hill and headed for the Texaco garage, where we turned to take the reverse route back to base.

On the way back down the big hill towards Exeter, we tried out MAN’s BrakeMatic system. When the driver touches the brake, the exhaust brake is engaged automatically and tries to hold you to that speed for the duration of the descent. The new version enables drivers to change the overrun, with settings from +2 to +5 kmh. It works well and is another tool to make life easier for the driver (always a good thing), though again we’d need to try it under load to make a fair assessment.

Top-power TGX

Back at base, it was time to try the flagship Lion. This TGX 26.640 6×2/2 BL SA chassis was sporting a roomy GX high-roof sleeper cab which was more in line with premium spec. Inside, we found found MAN had included Light & Visibility Plus package, increased interior lighting package, partial leather air-suspended and ventilated High Comfort driving seat, and leather multi-function steering wheel. The twin bunks had 110 mm Comfort mattresses.

The TGX was also sporting MAN’s new digital dash, which uses two screens: one 12.3 inch display to show the dials and main driving information, and a 7 inch screen set in the dash to provide access to auxiliary functions, radio, sat nav etc. The first is controlled using thumb pads on the steering wheel, while the second takes inputs from MAN’s new SmartSelect wheel.

We were really impressed with SmartSelect back at launch, and we still feel the same – we much prefer this mode of control over poking at a touchscreen. It also feels safer and more direct – drivers can rest their hand on the wristguard and twist the bottom, larger ring to select a mode, then use the smaller upper ring to select options within that mode. Finally, the top of the control is a touch pad which enables you to use a finger to drag the map around, for example, or write out a letter to snap through a phone address book. It’s simple, makes sense, really responsive to use and gets a resounding thumbs-up from us.

Lion’s pride

This TGX was using MAN’s top-power D38 in-line six-cylinder engine rated at 640 bhp, which produces max torque of 3000 Nm between 900-1400 rpm. This was driving through a 12-speed TipMatic automated gearbox loaded with MAN EfficientCruise and EfficientRoll, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go function.

We were nominally loaded with 10 tonnes of cargo for this test – better than nothing, but still not enough to get a proper feel for TGX’s pulling chops. But weaving around roundabouts and junctions before pulling onto the M5 for our trip up the hill, we noticed the truck’s on-road manners felt better than at launch.

Back in Bilbao, we drove a 470 bhp TGX around the hilly port roads and found the handling to be light and a bit twitchy. MAN’s torque converting ComfortSteering system tightens up at higher speeds and provides lighter steering at lower speed – and the effect was noticeable, but in a good way. The twitchiness was gone; the truck felt really light and responsive at junctions and roundabouts, and sure-footed on the highway as we prepared to climb Telegraph Hill.

For a bit of fun, we switched the gearbox from Efficiency to Performance Mode as we climbed and grinned at the throaty note from the engine. In Efficiency Mode, the gearbox lugs at a lot lower revs, whereas Performance changes gears sooner for more agility. The D38 revs higher than the D26 we tried in Spain, and it held us a little bit higher up in the band.

Verdict

Though we only had a short time with each truck, we came away impressed with MAN’s new generation TGs. They seem a genuine step up in terms of build quality and driver comfort, but we are frustrated not to be able to test them with a full load. Hopefully we’ll get another chance in the near future.

Basic TGM is comfortable, quiet and lively to drive. But the level of luxury inside the plush new TGX GX cab is striking. It’s a big step up from the previous generation and brings the fight to the likes of Scania and Volvo, which have set the benchmark for luxury for a good while now. These are highly appealing trucks, and we reckon fleet operators and owner-drivers should take a close look at what’s on offer when they are next in the market for a flagship.

SPECIFICATION

Model: MAN TGM 18.250 4×2 BL
• Design GVW: 18,000 kg
• Chassis: 6575 mm wheelbase
Front axle: 7100 kg capacity
• Rear axle: 11,500 kg capacity
Engine: MAN D08, Euro 6 Step D
• Max power: 250 bhp
• Max torque: 1050 Nm
• Gearbox: MAN TipMatic 12-speed automated manual
• Brakes: Disc brakes all round, MAN BrakeMatic
• Additional equipment: Compact CC cab, MMT infotainment system (Advanced Basic), cruise control, Lane Guard System

Model: MAN TGX 26.640 6×2/2 BL SA
Design GVW/GCW: 44,000 kg
• Engine: MAN D3876FL10 in-line, six-cylinder, Euro 6 Step D
• Max power: 640 PS @ 1800 rpm
• Max torque: 3000 Nm @ 900-1400 rpm
• Gearbox: MAN TipMatic 12-speed automated manual
• Brakes: Disc brakes all round, MAN BrakeMatic
• Additional equipment: GX high-roof sleeper cab, EfficientCruise, EfficientRoll, twin bunks, ComfortSteering, ACC with Stop & Go function, SmartSelect control, leather seats, EasyControl lower door controls

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