Road Test: Scania SUPER (13-litres)

Reviews

Scania has unveiled a new DC13 straight-six engine range, a new gearbox and a new rear axle, as well as a host of other tweaks. Trucking heads to Sweden to drive the new Scania SUPER range – and it’s very impressive.

In September 2020, Scania announced tweaks to its popular V8 engine with new engine outputs – including and 770S, which became Europe’s most powerful production series truck. A new G33CM gearbox was announced at the same time, though this was kind of lost under the glitz of the new 770 bhp V8.

While everyone was waxing lyrical about V8s and people were ordering 770S tractors they didn’t really need for anything other than prestige, Scania’s engineers were still working hard on the real winner: its 13-litre engine. This was finally announced in October 2021. This is a brand new engine, not a reworking of the existing lump.

The new models are being marketed as ‘SUPER’, a name first carried by Scania’s 110 and 140 models in the early 1970s. That alone led some journalists to think Scania was launching a new brand, possibly signalling the impending demise of the V8. Well, not now – but eventually…

New engine

The all-new DC13 engine range features four power options which will suit pretty much all 40/44-tonne operations you can think of. The outputs are sensibly spaced apart and start with the DC13-176 at 420 bhp, which replaces the current 410 bhp model. There is no replacement for the entry-level 370 bhp engine, which will be phased out – but that’s not an issue, as Scania’s 9-litre engine goes up to 360 bhp.

Next is the DC13-175 rated at 460 bhp, which this replaces the popular 450 bhp model and will inevitably be Scania’s best seller. Then there is the DC13-174 at 500 bhp, which replaces the previous 500 bhp unit. Finally, the DC13-173 engine is now rated at 560 bhp and is the alternative to 540 bhp unit, which was previously Scania’s most powerful straight-six.

As before, there is an overlap with the V8. The highest-powered straight-six has more power and similar torque to the lowest-powered V8: it was 540 verses 520 bhp, but now it’s 560 verses 530 bhp.

But there is so much more to the new engine than just different power ratings. For a start, it has a single cylinder head with dual overhead camshafts and uses a new twin-SCR system which, while using more AdBlue, delivers lower emissions (Euro 6 Step E), and Scania claims it will meet Euro 7 ratings for 2027. The engine also enjoys improved air flow to the turbo, and improved combustion with optimised inlet and exhaust for optimal gas exchange. The twin-cam also allows higher cylinder pressure.

The 420 and 460 bhp versions can be spec’d with the new G25CM gearbox, which has 14 forward and ‘up to’ eight reverse ratios. Gear ratio spread is increased by 60 per cent, resulting in very low losses in direct drive.

Then there is the new R756 axle, which also has a wider choice for ratios. This means the truck can be better specified for your operation with two new options – 1:1.95 and 1:2.12 – to give a total choice of nine rear ratios up to 1:4.11.

Fuel tanks have been improved to allow more of the fuel carried to actually be available, up from 87 to 97 per cent. This will benefit drivers and reduce the amount of ‘dead weight’ fuel that cannot be used due to tank peculiarities.

Weight watchers

But while the weight saving is big news, it’s the fuel savings that will please operators (and accountants) the most. Scania’s current 13-litre range has won much praise for its frugality, and Scania is saying the new range will be “at least” eight per cent better, but probably more. These savings could amount to around £3000 per truck per annum on a single-shifted vehicle. With a really good driver on the right kind of work, it could be much more.

And finally, Scania is also following Mercedes-Benz, MAN and now DAF in offering a mirrorless option. Announced with much less fanfare, Scania’s engineers were keen to stress the system is still a work in progress and is not yet signed off for commercial use.

On the road

Trucking went to Södertälje to drive the new SUPER drivelines and test out the mirrorless system. We only had a morning at the Scania test track, which was split into four sessions – one on-the-road drive of about 10 miles, another hour or so taking various other trucks around the two-mile test track, and then two workshops explaining the new technologies.

For the road drive, Scania had laid on an example of each of the new models and the like-for-like model they are replacing. So the 460R had an R450 for comparison, and the 560S had a 540S, and so on.

With the exception of the 540S, which was a 6×2 rigid, all were 4×2 tractors with tri-axle trailers – so a European standard spec for 40 tonnes. Most were loaded to about 37 tonnes.

The plan was for us to take a new SUPER truck out and swap over 18 km away to bring the current-gen comparison vehicle back. Trucking secured the model that will inevitably be Scania’s best seller: the 460R. You only have to drive on UK roads to see countless R450s, so it’s almost certain this will have the widest appeal.

We have always liked the R-cab on the New Gen Scanias. It’s got ample room, without being quite so slab-fronted as the bigger S-cab. The latter is seen as a tool to attract drivers, and it does; but the R-cab is deceptively spacious and is a lovely place for driving and sleeping in – and is fine for a week away.

As it is same cab as the New Generation models launched five years ago, there is nothing externally to tell the new from the old – apart from the SUPER badges and model designation. Badges now all state the cab size after the power output, hence ‘460R’ rather than ‘R460’.

There are no exterior styling changes to mention, and to be honest we are surprised Scania didn’t do something in this regard – a tweak to the headlight clusters or grilles is normally the de facto way to show a model has been updated. There has been some slight changes to darker interior materials, but not to the layout or dash.

Smooth ride

But when you get out on the road, the new driveline becomes apparent. For a start, the cab is quieter. The gear change from the new G25CM gearbox is smoother, and a lot of the time you don’t even notice it. The truck handles superbly; it’s surefooted on the road and there’s no swing or rocking on the cab.

In terms of braking, Scania has upped its game with a new CRB (compression release brake) system. This is an option over the older R4100D retarder (though it can be spec’d in addition to retarder if required), and while the transport manager will appreciate the 100 kg weight saving off the tare weight, the driver will like the better and stronger braking capability that will make downhill gradients so much better.

The steering is still superb; not quite as good as Volvo’s Dynamic Steering on the FH, but it’s still very light and responsive. Combined with Scania’s superb cruise control, the truck has all the attributes for a totally effortless drive. Its quick out of the blocks, it handles well and it brakes superbly. You can’t really ask for much else.

The electronic parking brake and hill hold also proved excellent. They feel very assured and pulling away on a steep climb was dead easy, as the parking brake simply releases when you apply the power.

A short drive of just about 10 miles is hardly a lot to get a real feel for this truck, and the real proof will come in a decent day’s work on a mix of roads, weights and topography. The trip back in the R450 was pretty much just as enjoyable, and even though ever so slightly nosier, it too is still a fantastic truck.

But while the 460R is a definite improvement for the driver, many of its advantages will be of interest to the operator and/or owner.

Operational advantages

The headline figures are like-for-like weight savings of just under 300 kg on a 4×2 tractor. In recent times, Scanias have been just a tad heavier than some competitors, so this will be a real boost.

That weight saving depends on the options you specify, of course; but Scania says the new CRB, new rear axle, new engine and new gearbox combine to offer a saving of 294 kg. This applies on a 420P verses a P410, right up to a 560S verses an S540.

Also, operators are now able to specify chassis layouts to much better to suit their own needs, which is especially important on rigids as it will allow a greater weight distribution.

Scania says the new engine will be its last all-new diesel engine and will see it through to 2040, when new diesels theoretically will no longer be available to buy in many markets. The engine can also run on HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oils) for operators keen on reducing well-to-wheel CO2 emissions.

Mirrorless drive

But the truck everyone all wanted a spin behind the wheel of was the artic fitted with the new Scania Mirror View Camera (SMVC) system. The equipment for this was actually fitted to an ‘old’ driveline 500S, not a new SUPER model. Scania was keen to stress this system is still a work in progress, so it isn’t really making too much of a fuss about it.

A couple of laps around a test track only gave us a brief feel, but we could draw some early conclusions. Scania has chosen to mount the camaras on door, so much lower than competitor placements. This does not feel as useful as the higher placements, as naturally when you open the door, the camera moves with it.

But one benefit was the images are a lot crisper and clearer than on Mercedes’ current-gen Mirrorcam system. The screens are a little smaller, and while that is helpful in the fact they have less surface area on the A-pillar, many would no doubt prefer them to be bigger. [What’s more, the position of the screen nearest to the driver felt very obtrusive, causing its own blind spot – ed].

Scania says the system “should be possible to be ordered from July” and it will be available across the whole range.

Verdict

Overall, the new driveline is a real winner. It’s lighter, more fuel efficient and quieter. There is a decent spread of outputs in a key sector, with arguably the 460 being the pick of the bunch.

That said, the 420 bhp engine has more than enough power and torque for 44-tonne work. Marry that with a P- or G-cab and you have a great truck for day work and distribution. A 460 or 500 with an R- or S-cab will be perfect for distance and tramping work, while a 560S makes for a great flagship.

As a truck, it’s nigh-on impossible not to rate a Scania. As a business proposition, you need to do the sums as the purchase price can be much higher than competing brands; and remember, it’s up against some stellar 460-500 bhp trucks from the likes of MAN, DAF and Volvo especially. But as a new engine and driveline range that will give operators AT LEAST and eight per cent improvement on fuel use, the new SUPER range is a very attractive proposition.

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