The Daf XF and its predecessor the 105 XF has been around, in one form or another, for a couple of decades and over the years they have won a number of accolades including two International Truck of the Year awards.
As with most tractor units in the UK, they are used primarily for the national and international trunking of goods, but there is a sector that Daf Trucks is beginning to actively target across Europe with its upgraded range of trucks including the XF – the construction market.
Now the needs of general trunking operators are often very different from those of an operator working from a quarry or building site delivering bricks or sand/aggregate, and therefore Daf has decided to add to and upgrade its offering in this sector which is an important barometer for the UK economy.
One of the often quoted key requirements for this sector is a double-drive system and at a recent Daf Construction event in Malaga, Spain, we thought it would make sense to test drive the Daf XF FTT featuring its latest generation double-drive tandem and hub reduction system. Although the vehicles were to European specification, the fundamental driveline is virtually identical to UK specs.
Powering the XF 480 is the in–house Paccar MX 13 engine rated at 485PS (355kW) at a very low revving 1,600rpm and developing its maximum 2,500Nm of torque between 900rpm to 1,125rpm. This 12.9-litre engine is Euro VI-compliant and uses the standard mix of AdBlue and EGR linked to a DPF to ensure the levels are met.
Behind the MX-13 is the TraXon 12-speed 12TX2610 featuring an overdrive top gear and the engine management software caters for off-road applications.
While Daf engineers have developed a new front 10-tonne axle designated 193N, our vehicle featured the Daf 183N nine-tonne front axle with parabolic suspension obviously dependent on the tyre and legal constraints.
The rear bogie is a different story with a completely new double drive tandem designated HR1670T and this can incorporate 10 rear axles ratios up to 7.21:1 and down to 3.46:1. Once again to appeal to the off-road operator, the cast axle bodies feature a set of hub reduction gears helping to increase the ground clearance while the air brakes chambers are mounted high, well away from potential off-road dangers such as rocks and stones.
The oil change has been extended to three years or 450,000kms whichever comes first, helping to reduce the total cost of operation.
The rear bogie can be up-rated to a maximum of 26 tonnes, i.e. 13 tonnes per axle, but this is a maximum European specification (UK is rated at 19 tonnes) and the rear suspension on the bogie is provided by eight air bellows.
The FTT 6x4 has a 3.90 metre wheelbase and includes a 510-litre fuel tank matched to a 90-litre AdBlue tank. There are ventilated disc brakes front and rear and our vehicle also featured a three-stage Paccar engine braking system as well as an optional ZF intarder. The normal plethora of software-based braking systems such as ABS, EBS etc. are also available and safety is also complemented by a lane departure warning as well as a vehicle stability control system.
Our test truck featured the penultimate top of the range cab for XF which is the 2,490mm wide Space Cab. The exterior has a galvanised steel bumper, tinted glass and electric window openers, with both main mirrors and wide angle mirrors electrically heated as well as LED daytime running lights. The cab features a four point air suspension system.
The interior trim colour is a nice mixture between what Daf call Dark Sand which most people would describe as dark beige and it is contrasted by a piano black colour.
The driver seat is a Comfort Air which is air suspended and multi-adjustable with a standard fixed co-driver seat. There is a lower bunk without drawers and an upper bunk with luggage storage. Heating and ventilation is controlled via an automatic temperature control and air conditioning system backed by an auxiliary water-based cab heater.
Climbing into the cab reveals a semi-wrapround dashboard with the central instrument panel having a speedometer on the left, rev counter to the right featuring a green economy zone and a central LCD information display.
The steering wheel has controls for the usual items such as cruise control and speed limiter, Bluetooth mobile, and infotainment volume. To the left of the driver is an angled panel with a smaller LCD screen for the satellite navigation and just to the side of this are three rotary controls for the cab heating and ventilation.
Releasing the handbrake to the left and pressing “D” gets us on the road and the pleasant realisation that this is a very quite cab , in fact, the only real cab noise to be heard is the result of air flow going around the door mirrors.
The vehicle is carrying around 80% of maximum payload potential and the truck goes through the gears without a hitch in some cases block changing resulting in a smoother acceleration.
This vehicle had an air suspended chassis, cab and drivers seat so it felt like you were riding on a wave, which is quite nice although I often “lock out” the air suspension on the drivers seat when driving under this series of multiple air suspension but that wasn’t necessary. The double drive system gave a great feeling of stability and excellent traction control which is a comfort when operating at over 80% of maximum gross combination weight.
In the UK and many European countries, Daf Trucks has a leading role in the sale of tractor units and the latest generation XF, along with the new front and rear axle sets, should ensure that continues – especially if it targets the construction sector as planned.