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Sat November 17 2018

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Iveco gets up to speed in the concrete market

Digger Blogger | 09:00, Thu August 30 2018

We don’t normally stray much beyond diggers and loaders in these parts – cranes occasionally, or maybe telehandlers. But for the first time we take a look at a concrete mixer truck. Words are from Kevin Swallow and images by Tom Cunningham.

A year ago, Iveco introduced the Stralis X-WAY, heralded as ‘the lightest in the construction sector’. The manufacturer did not pull its punches: X-WAY ‘raises the stakes in light off-road missions with the highest payload in its segment’ and ‘combines the best of Iveco’s fuel efficiency and safety technologies with the brand’s most robust chassis design’, it said.

Iveco’s usual 8x4 offering, theTrakker, was well-equipped for the heavy-duty work but it was too heavy for the part of the construction market where the emphasis is bulk transportation and payload.  Like all heavy trucks there is a lighter truck waiting to get out, so a redesign to shed 750kg has seen the X-WAY emerge from the shadow of the Trakker.

The new X-WAY enters a competitive lightweight market but operators are fickle and do not want lightweight at any cost. They need durability too, and not something that will fall apart on the first building site. Has Iveco been able to make the weight without weakening its performance? 

The wider X-WAY line-up offers of 9-, 11- and 13-litre engines that use selective gas recirculation (SCR) to achieve Euro-6 emission standards. For this road test Iveco put forward its Stralis X-WAY Super Loader (SL), which the eagle-eyed may have spotted at the UK Concrete Show on the Wilcox Commercial Vehicles stand earlier this year.

On the back of the chassis cab is a Cifa SLX8 mixer barrel, which has an 8.0m3 capacity that takes it up to 19.2 tonnes payload. For the UK sector, SL is available with four wheelbases (first to third axle); 4,750mm, 5,020mm, 5,600mm and 5,820mm. Choose the shortest wheelbase and the kerbweight is an impressive 8,833mm with no driver and full 290-litre diesel aluminium tank and 50-litre AdBlue plastic tank.

For this test Iveco has specified a 5,020mm wheelbase with an overall length of 9,448mm. With alloy wheels taking up to 165kg from the kerbweight, this chassis-cab comes in at a viable 9,210kg, leaving 22,790kg for the bodywork, payload and driver.

Putting this into context with DAF Trucks and MAN shows that Iveco is now right in the mix. For the DAF CF with the MX-11 10.8-litre engine specified for mixers on an equivalent 5,000mm wheelbase (first to third axle) it’s 9,353kg. Caveats include steel wheels, 220-litre aluminium diesel tank, 45-litre AdBlue and no driver. For MAN’s TGS with a slightly heavier D26 12.4-litre engine it is 9,277kg, also on a 5,000mm wheelbase, alloy wheels, Tipmatic automated transmission, with a heavier 300-litre steel diesel tank and 35-litre AdBlue tank.

The Iveco chassis is fitted with reinforced front stabilizer bar and two rear stabilizer bars. Typically, the steel suspension will have a two-leaf at the front and three-leaf at the rear. An option is a one-leaf optimised suspension on the front axles and two-leaf on the rear axles, which lowers kerbweight by up to 60kg.

Also helping to drop weight is the vertical exhaust stack behind the cab, rather than additional pipework on the chassis, and the use of disc brakes on the front and rear bogies. It’s also worth noting that this truck came with the optional, heavier steel front bumper; plastic is standard.

The driveline for SL is the Cursor 9 8.7-litre, six-cylinder direct injection engine; the only option available. There is no physical weight saving by choosing a lower horsepower.

Cursor 9 offers four outputs;

  • 310hp between 1,675-2,200rpm and 1,300Nm torque between 1,100-1,675rpm
  • 330hp between 1,655-2,200rpm and 1,400Nm torque between 1,100-1,655rpm
  • 360hp between 1,530-2,200rpm and 1,650Nm torque between 1,200-1,530rpm
  • 400hp between 1,655-2,200rpm and 1,700Nm torque between 1,200-1,655rpm

Turning power into motion via the propshaft to the single-reduction drive bogie is the automated ZF 12-speed 1810 TD transmission with manual override, with gears ranging from 16.69 to 1:1 direct top. It is also fitted with a two-stage engine brake that delivers 891Nm at 3,000rpm.

Iveco has also turned to ZF to provide a permanently engaged power take off (PTO) that can deliver up to 2,450Nm. It is installed between the transmission and vehicles engine, is driven directly from the engine shaft and features its own cooling circuit and oil sump.

The X-WAY has a choice of cabs: the AD (Active Day) short cab with low roof, AT (Active Time) sleeper cab with low or medium roof, and AS (Active Space) sleeper cab, which was designed around the driver for the long-haul missions of the New Stralis XP.

Day cab should not be a first choice for any driver because it affords little space and no storage. Overall the cab is 3,060mm high, with a 1,490mm cab floor height and 360mm engine tunnel. Internal cab height is 1,210mm upwards from the engine tunnel, and from the windscreen to the backwall its 1,660mm. There’re three fixed steps into the cab, which is the ON Step option.

For greater visibility, there is a rear window on the both this cab and the AT cabin to allow the driver to see back towards the barrel and down onto the nearside of the vehicle.

Thankfully Iveco has not gone overboard with the cabs revamp, so the switches and controls are familiar. Transmission is set into the dashboard to the left with D (drive), N (neutral) and R (reverse).

Positioned on the top right of the central dashboard that houses the speed and revs is SL, which is not a misplaced logo but the ‘speed limiter’. Press it once and a small visual on the top left of the dash indicates the selected limited speed.

On the right stalk off the steering column is the cruise control with a rocker switch on its end that sets the cruise control speed and changes the set speeds up and down, one kilometre at a time.

Press D, release the hand brake (Iveco has retained a traditional lever) and away you go. These days more operators are going for 400hp at 32 tonnes gross vehicle weight, and rightly so. This engine is a proven entity and it continues to impress. Torque kicks in properly from 1,200rpm, and with a 3.40:1 final axle drive ratio it just allows you to drop into top gear at 40mph on the flat. Any incline and it’ll change down to cope. At 50mph it sits at a tad below 1,400rpm that’ll ensure maximum fuel economy.

Fitted with only an engine brake, it works impressively at 3,000rpm slowing the vehicle enough before introducing the disc brakes to bring the truck to a halt over the last 20 yards.

Off-road deliveries will be commonplace, and it has the traction for flattop building sites whether wet or dry. Go off-piste then it will require the diff-locks to get it out of knee deep mud. No shame there; it’s not designed for it and fellow lightweight contenders suffer the same fate.

With a little time to reflect on the test, it is fair to say that Iveco has certainly delivered the on-road characteristics associated with its flagship road-going Stralis XP heavy-truck; it’s very comfortable and easy to drive.

Closer analysis of the mixer specification suggests Iveco’s claim to be the lightest is a little overstated. However, X-WAY is a new vehicle and it’s now competing on equal terms within the concrete sector, which is no small achievement.

To become a lightweight champion in the lightweight construction market you must first be taken seriously as a contender, and in that respect, Iveco has already been successful.