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Star performer

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Star performerDAF is cleaning up in the truck tractor market in Europe, and the DAF FTT XF105.460 is one of the reasons why. However, is it suited to local operating conditions? VIC OLIVER reports.

First things first. It’s one thing to evaluate a truck, but back-up service is pivotal. So, before I get on to commenting on the actual vehicle itself, some background ...

While the company has always been famed for producing very good trucks, some local transport operators have been a tad nervous about back-up support. Well, their fears appear to be misplaced now. DAF has formed a partnership in South Africa with Babcock International Group’s Africa division. The partnership with the Babcock group is exactly what was needed for DAF to give its South African truck division financial and management support. This support will enable DAF to provide the full back-up service that existing and prospective owners of this world-class brand of vehicles deserve.

Babcock recently announced that it would be opening a new head office facility for DAF in Benoni. It will also soon be opening new offices in Cape Town and Durban, and plans to expand its network of dealerships around the country.

But back to the truck test at hand ... and our specific test vehicle, the DAF FTT XF105.460 premium 6x4 truck tractor. The tractor was coupled to a set of interlink trailers and loaded to the maximum permissible Gross Combination Mass of 56 000 kg.

The route chosen for the test run was from the Pretoria DAF dealer’s yard to Witbank, covering a distance of 234.8 km. This route is particularly tough for a fully loaded truck as there are many steep gradients to negotiate.

It was a pleasure to drive the DAF XF105.460. The vehicle is fitted with many fingertip controls, which allow the driver to remain in full control of the rig at all times.

Star performerThe big Paccar MX 340 straight six-cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled engine develops an impressive 2 300 Nm of torque, and it has more than sufficient power to comfortably propel the fully loaded rig.

The clutchless ZF 16-speed AS-Tronic automatic gearbox allows the driver to sit back and concentrate on driving the vehicle without worrying about selecting the correct gear for the road conditions as this is all done automatically.

The driver does however have the option of selecting a manual mode gear change.

Cruise and downhill speed-control features on the vehicle add to the pleasure and safety of driving this premium truck. The cruise control and the downhill speed-control modes are very easily engaged or disengaged by operating fingertip controls that are mounted on the steering spoke.

In the downhill speed-control mode, the braking power is obtained from the exhaust brake and the engine brake, which, when combined, produce 320 kW at 2 100 r/min and are activated automatically when the downhill speed control button is engaged. The exhaust and engine brake can be manually engaged by the driver when necessary.

The combined retardation on the exhaust brake and engine brake is effective. But, for rough hilly terrain, I would recommend that the vehicle is equipped with the optional ZF intarder, which would add additional retardation in tough operating conditions.

The vehicle is fitted with disc brakes on the front axle and drum brakes on the rear axles. ABS (anti-lock brake system) and EBS (electronic brake system) are fitted as standard equipment, allowing the truck to be stopped quickly with full control under any conditions.

A lightweight Meritor rear air suspension gives the vehicle a very comfortable ride for both the driver and the load.

On the return trip to Pretoria, we had a compulsory weighbridge stop at the Donkerhoek weighbridge. Naturally, the officials set about checking that the vehicle was not overloaded and that it conformed to all the other road traffic regulations that apply to a truck tractor and interlink trailers.

On the weighbridge the total vehicle mass was recorded at 55 800 kg, which was just within the legal 56 000 kg limit. The printout that we received from the traffic authorities showed that, due to the light tare mass of the truck tractor (8 490 kg) and the light tare mass of the two trailers (10 650 kg), a legal payload of 36 860 kg is permissible.

The cab is world class with big double-sleeper bunks, a vast amount of storage space and all the home comforts that help drivers endure long-distance trips.

The air-conditioner is highly effective, adding to the driver’s comfort on long, hot trips.

Fuel consumption was recorded at 57,27 l/100 km. Fuel consumption was however adversely effected by the 20-minute compulsory weighbridge stop, where we had to negotiate a long queue and were unable to switch off the engine.

When I took delivery of the test vehicle, I suspected that it would be highly capable. The DAF FTT MX105.460 truck tractor has, after all, been tested by DAF under South African operating conditions. During the tests, the vehicles covered 5,4 million kilometres, proving that the vehicle is highly durable and well suited for the tough African operating conditions.

My test drive served only to confirm this fact. I can therefore see no reason why any potential buyer looking for a premium truck tractor should not include this vehicle on his (or her!) shopping list.

 

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