Iveco has started 2016 in sparkling form with its new Eurocargo being named International truck of the year.
The middleweight contender has been a fleet favourite for some years, but the upgraded model offers a host of improvements and additions.
Companies can choose from around 11,000 variants while gross vehicle weights range from 7.5 tonnes to 22 tonnes. There is a choice of day-cab, crew-cab, sleeper-cab and high-roof sleeper cab models, seven power ratings from 160hp to 320hp, 11 transmission options including four automated, five manual and two automatic, 15 wheelbases from 2,790mm to 6,570mm, a choice of 4x2 or 4x4, plus a range of final axle ratios.
In addition to the mainstream rigids, the Eurocargo is available as a specialist conversion for road sweeper applications, while the company has reintroduced a full line-up of urban artic models. These cater for gross combination weights from 18 tonnes to 35 tonnes, making it Iveco’s most extensive urban artic range ever.
Another specialist conversion being offered sees the maximum gvw increased to 22 tonnes on selected models. Iveco achieves this by adding a single wheel lifting axle with servo-assisted hydraulic steering, making it particularly suited for distribution applications, yet without any impact upon vehicle manoeuvrability.
Two engines are available: a four-cylinder 4.5-litre with 160hp or 190hp and a 6.7-litre with 220hp or 320hp.
There are styling updates to the vehicle’s exterior and interior, extra safety systems, a reduction in fuel consumption by up to 8% compared to the old model and the option of a new telematics system.
Information is collected and analysed remotely, and access to an intuitive portal allows the fleet manager to monitor a number of factors such as vehicle use and detailed management of drivers and their driving style.
Our test model was the 7.5-tonne gvw box body mated to the 160hp powerplant. On a mixture of routes around Essex which included dual carriageways, city roads and country lanes, it proved an impressive performer, tackling some tight bends and narrow roads with aplomb.
With a large horizontally-placed steering wheel and nicely balanced power steering, the truck was easy to manoeuvre, while engine noise was so suppressed that my passenger and I were able to talk in quiet tones while on the move and still make ourselves easily heard.
There are a fair number of standard fitments in the cab such as carefully-placed coffee cup holders, overhead storage lockers and coat hangers at the back, while the middle seat can be replaced by an optional office desk.
The auto gearbox is the default option on this truck, although a manual is available, and modes are selected via three buttons – drive, neutral and reverse. The transmission system doesn’t offer seamless changes, but after a few miles I soon got used to its slight rocking motion between cog swaps.
With a half load on board, the 160hp did not feel sufficient at times and I’d recommend the higher-powered unit for heavy fleet use.
Both the driver and passenger seats are superbly solid and supportive, while on the safety front, the large side mirrors give an excellent view of what’s behind, but they do tend to obscure the driver’s view when pulling out of T junctions.
Technology in the truck world is coming on in leaps and bounds and all the improvements to the Eurocargo – of which only a few are mentioned in this report – keep this vehicle at the forefront of the sector.