Giti Tyres Big Test | X-way answers the questions

 
 August 2020     IVECO X-WAY 8x4 AS   Story Brian Cowan Photos Gerald Shacklock

Giti Tyres Big Test - X-Way answers the questions

Figures. You’ve sometimes gotta be a wee bit careful with them, because they can blindside you until you dig a little deeper. Take this simple power comparison – between a 620-horsepower (462 kilowatts) R-Series Scania and this month’s Giti Big Test truck, Iveco’s new X-Way – rated at 570hp (425kW). 

Why the Scania comparison? Simple: An R Series was the truck replaced by the X-Way in the Lincoln-based WJ Baker fleet – delivering stock feed to a North Canterbury pig farming operation.

Straight off the stick, there’s that 50hp (37kW) advantage held by the Swedish truck. The gap becomes even more marked when you compare the 3000Nm (2213 lb ft) peak torque of the 15.6 litre Scania V8 with the 2500Nm (1844 lb ft) of the 12.9-litre Iveco Cursor 13 straight six.

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Pirelli Trevor Test

We’re down in the South Island, in Rangiora, just north of Christchurch, to catch up with Gary Baker’s new Iveco X-Way – the new Euro 6 model for the Italian truck brand. 

We’ve been waiting a long time to test this truck – with holdups due to COVID-19 and other things. We even took it off our list and checked out testing North Island X-Ways instead….but they would not stack up to be as good a test as this.

This Iveco is on its regular run, carting pig food north on a 58-tonne sticker. Regular driver Wayne Lawton has loaded out of the feed supplier in Rangiora and takes the truck and trailer unit, loaded to 56 tonnes all up, to Waipara….where I take over the driving. Wayne and Gary say that it’s usually loaded to 57.5t.

The climb up into the cab is via three well-placed, deep and wide steps, with good grabhandles on both sides and a wide-opening door. 


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Giti Tyres Big Test - X-Way answers the questions

Figures. You’ve sometimes gotta be a wee bit careful with them, because they can blindside you until you dig a little deeper. Take this simple power comparison – between a 620-horsepower (462 kilowatts) R-Series Scania and this month’s Giti Big Test truck, Iveco’s new X-Way – rated at 570hp (425kW). 
Why the Scania comparison? Simple: An R Series was the truck replaced by the X-Way in the Lincoln-based WJ Baker fleet – delivering stock feed to a North Canterbury pig farming operation.
Straight off the stick, there’s that 50hp (37kW) advantage held by the Swedish truck. The gap becomes even more marked when you compare the 3000Nm (2213 lb ft) peak torque of the 15.6 litre Scania V8 with the 2500Nm (1844 lb ft) of the 12.9-litre Iveco Cursor 13 straight six.
And, by a seat of the pants measure, the difference is obvious, reckons Wayne Lawton – the driver who’s just come out of the Scania and into the new Iveco: “The V8 pulls really hard from low revs. It’s an obviously strong engine – one of the gruntiest around. So when I first got in the X-Way it didn’t feel anywhere as lively. 
“Yet now I realise it’s working really effectively. Even though it might not have the first-up rush of the V8, when you ask it a question it just hangs on and hangs on.”
Drilling down a bit gives a clue as to why this might be so: Both engines have a flat band of maximum torque, beginning at 1000rpm for the Scania and 900rpm for the Iveco. But where Scania’s plateau extends only through to 1400rpm, the Iveco goes to 1525rpm. After which it drops more gradually, still producing 88% of its peak at 1800rpm, whereas the V8 has dropped to 80% at the same revs.
Right across the range the V8 is still the stronger of the two, naturally, but the difference in power curves means it feels significantly more muscley at low revs, whereas the Cursor engine demonstrates a broader spread of effort.
And so to the figures that really count. Fleet owner Gary Baker has done a detailed analysis of the run times for the two trucks for Wayne’s standard loaded trip – averaging them out over several weeks – and has found them as close as makes no difference. He says there’s barely minutes in it: “No matter that one truck might feel stronger, you can’t argue with the GPS.”
The bonus, he adds, lies in fuel economy. The newcomer – not yet 5000 kilometres old, so still far from loosened up – typically uses around 35 litres a day less than the Scania.
Iveco hasn’t yet achieved the sales success in our market that it probably deserves, but the new model might be the one to start tipping the balance, not least because it’s being built in Australia, at the Dandenong, Melbourne facility that already produces the Stralis, ACCO and Powerstar. 
The company says the X-Way has been the subject of a three-year development and local onroad testing programme specifically for the Australasian market, so it’s obviously keen to make a serious impact.
In Europe, Iveco seems to be pushing the model’s versatility (the X-Way moniker is apparently a suggestion that it spans the crossover between onroad and offroad). Accordingly, a good deal of the promotional material talks of applications in what Americans term the vocational segment.
In this part of the world, Iveco’s promotional emphasis seems more on general freight work. The range offers three 6x4 prime movers, with the AD (Active Day) and AT (Active Time, low-roof sleeper) cab variants using 460hp Cursor 11 engines, while the AS (Active Space, high-roof sleeper) gets the Cursor 13, at 510hp but uprateable to 570hp. 
The rigid lineup is virtually the same, apart from an 8x4 axle configuration across the three models, plus the addition of a 360hp 6x4 using the smaller Cursor 9 engine.
The greater number of 8x4 models has boosted the model’s attractiveness, believes Iveco NZ general manager Jason Keddie: “From our perspective it’s exciting, because we’ve never had an eight-wheeler with a full sleeper cab before. It’s an opportunity to break into a wider section of the market. 
“Though there are many updates and improvements to the interior and the cab, overall it’s very similar to the Stralis in those areas, but the real story lies in the technology under the skin, where nearly everything is new – the engine, transmission, drivetrain and chassis. 
“As just one example, the new engine brake is now so powerful that the only time you’d need to fit the optional retarder would be if the truck was working on extreme slopes.
“User feedback on the X-Ways that are in service has been very positive. Among the main comments have been how quiet the truck is, and how comfortable the ride.”
Our test subject is a top-of-the line 570hp AS 8x4 rigid, fitted with a bulk tipper body and towing a five-axle tipping trailer. The range-topping power output isn’t for show, either – the unit is H-rated for 58 tonnes, and generally runs at close to that mark.
The test truck actually isn’t Aussie built: It comes from Iveco’s facility in Spain that’s home to the Stralis range. However, that’s only because at the time it came into the country, Dandenong hadn’t yet started production of the 8x4 variants. 
Iveco NZ’s South Island sales consultant, Straun Syme, says it has the full local spec, and the only difference between this truck and the Aussie X-Ways will be an air front suspension option offered in the Melbourne builds to aid load sharing between the axles. 
Regardless of what applications this new Iveco is put to work in, one thing is for certain – the X-Way is jammed with technology, and nowhere more so than the drivetrain. The Cursor 13 meets Euro 6 emissions standards, and does so with SCR only, an accomplishment in which Iveco led the world and is rightly proud of. 
The patented system, dubbed Hi-SCR by the company, places a passive DPF (diesel particulate filter) and an oxidation catalyst upstream of the main SCR catalyser. Exhaust treatment designs that use exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) to lower peak combustion temperatures (thereby reducing the formation of NOx) have the downside of also producing a higher level of partially-burnt fuel, or particulate matter (PM). 
As a result, the DPFs intermittently have to be regenerated by way of introducing excess fuel into the exhaust to raise localised temperatures and burn off the accumulated PM. In many cases this requires the vehicle to be briefly stopped and the process triggered manually.
Because Hi-SCR produces a low level of PM, the DPF can go for up to 600,000km before needing cleaning or replacing, Iveco says, while the extra fuel burn and thermal stresses of regeneration are eliminated.
The Euro 6 Cursor engines have been substantially upgraded, with new piston rings and revised piston crown profiles, plus a strengthened block, cylinder head, pistons and conrods to handle the higher peak cylinder pressures.
The latest generation Bosch common rail fuel system works at pressures of up to 2200 bar, allowing multiple injections per cycle for more efficient combustion. 
A new Garrett variable geometry turbo provides a quicker response at lower revs and also ensures optimal exhaust back-pressure when engine braking is called for. 
Partnering the engine is a 12-speed direct drive AMT the company calls Hi-TroniX, which is based on ZF’s acclaimed TraXon modular transmission – but with shifting software developed by Iveco. 
Compared with the Eurotronic II (ZF AS-Tronic) transmission in the current Stralis, Hi-TroniX is lighter and offers quicker shift speeds and reduced noise (by up to 6dB). Iveco also claims it is exceptionally durable, having tested it for up to 1.6million kilometres, or 80% greater than the limits of some competitor AMTs.
The transmission offers four reverse ratios, plus a couple of extra benefits in the form of creeping and rocking modes. With the first of these set up, simply releasing the service brake sees the vehicle inching along for precise close-quarter manoeuvring. When it’s in rocking mode, lifting off the accelerator automatically disengages the clutch and lets the vehicle roll back, after which another dab on the go pedal will have it rocking forward again...without building up so much torque it loses traction.
The test truck is fitted with a whole suite of safety-related and fuel economy-related applications. There’s nothing too groundbreaking about them – all premium Euro models have a similar lineup – but the X-Way does offer a couple of intriguing and useful wrinkles. For instance, the adaptive cruise control has a gap setting feature whereby the speed is allowed to deviate from the set figure by up to plus or minus 10km/h (driver selected) to take advantage of the vehicle’s momentum. 
In other words, it isn’t continuously accelerating or braking to stay right on the set speed, to the detriment of fuel economy. 
The stopping system integrates the main service brakes, engine brake and transmission retarder (if fitted), apportioning each element’s involvement for the most efficient result during normal slowing. And when the brake pedal is applied quickly enough for the software to understand there’s an emergency – yet not hard enough to trigger the ABS – a function called BAS (Brake Assistance System) takes over automatically and goes to full-on anchors out.
In its basic setting the cruise control uses a forward-facing radar to maintain a safe separation to objects or vehicles ahead. The radar is also a key element of the X-Way’s AEBS (Advanced Emergency Braking System). When the software interprets a sudden lessening of distance as evidence of a potential collision the AEBS comes into play, initially with an audible warning. If the driver doesn’t respond immediately, a short brake application is then followed by full application.
For less frantic scenarios, there are a couple more acronyms: LDW stands for Lane Departure Warning. It uses a windscreen-mounted camera that recognises road markings and sounds an audible warning (a rumble strip sound) if the vehicle is moving from its lane without indicators engaged. DAS, or Driver Assistance System, analyses steering wheel movements. If their pattern indicates the driver is getting drowsy, a message appears on the instrument panel display screen and a warning is sounded.
While the drivetrain has a lot of you-beaut aids to safety and fuel economy, the cab is less novel, being a virtual copy of the Stralis. Nothing wrong there, of course, particularly in the case of the test truck’s AS accommodation, which is 200mm wider than the AD/AT designs, and a monster 2080mm from the centre floor hump to the roof. Some NBL players might have to duck a little, but they certainly wouldn’t if standing in the footwell, for then it’s 2310mm to the roof. 
Sleeping arrangements too are more than generously proportioned. The fixed lower bunk is 2060mm long and 750mm wide, while the fold-down upper unit is marginally shorter at 1940mm, but 20mm wider.
The dashboard layout is also a pickup from the Stralis, which means a quite low-set top, a centre console angled sharply to the driver, and an array of buttons to handle the various transmission and cruise control functions. Some months ago the company announced a new model in Europe called the S-Way, effectively a replacement for the Stralis. This features an all-new cab that boasts outstanding aerodynamics. In time, the S-Way cab will likely find its way onto the local lineup. But when – and in what model or configuration – is not being talked about….just yet.
The S-way dash looks to be more intuitive than the X-Way, and features a larger multifunction display and several more controls mounted on the steering wheel, but its general layout is similar.
The primary job carried out by the test truck is a simple one – a 150km round distance shuttle run – and it’s substantially on State Highway 1 and SH7, with no monster hills to tackle...but the combination’s permitted weight ups the ante significantly, as does the need to handle the commuter traffic from Christchurch’s northern satellite towns. 
The run carries pelletised pig food to Patoa Farms, a sprawling operation that’s situated on the south bank of the Hurunui River near Hawarden in North Canterbury. It hosts a porcine population of often more than 40,000 and is fully free range. The sows roam at will, and when they’re ready to farrow they’re transferred to individual sheds in the paddocks. The piglets stay with their mothers in the open until they’re weaned, after which they’re housed in big open barns.
Feeding such numbers calls for upwards of 700t of stockfood every week, the majority of it supplied by Weston Milling in Rangiora and delivered by WJ Baker, which specialises in bulk haulage transport and pneumatic conveying. 
The fleet is effectively a second incarnation of the WJ Baker name, having been set up in the post-World War 2 period by Gary’s father, as a general transport business in Tai Tapu, near Christchurch. However, he sold up in 1973 to pursue a career in farming and the name disappeared for six years until a 19-year-old Gary resurrected it for his own freight operation, starting off with an International ACCO.
After his major contract was absorbed by Mainfreight, Gary continued to work with the company, running linehaul throughout the South Island and helping set up bulk silo deliveries for Ravensdown.
In the 1990s, when Mainfreight set up its company-branded owner-driver system, Gary elected to continue operating independently, gaining contracts with Champion Flour Mills and Weston Milling. In the time since, WJ Baker has specialised in bulk haulage and pneumatic conveying (blower trailers) – set up to handle a wide range of products including feed granules, wheat and barley, fertiliser, and wood and plastic pellets.
Wayne has been with Bakers for around five years, but his association with Gary goes back around 25 years – to Mainfreight where, he says, Gary taught him to drive. 
A typical day for Wayne starts before 3am, after which he’ll fit in three or four round trips to Patoa Farms. The early start is primarily to allow him to fit in his driving hours and the requisite number of trips….before the onset of the post-school and afternoon rush-hour traffic. 
The predawn kickoff is not a problem at the farm end, as he can do the unloading himself, using a tractor-towed auger trailer to transfer the feed to the silos.
He’s running a little late for our meetup at Rangiora this morning as a result of having to go hunt down the tractor for his first load, the machine having been inadvertently left at the far side of the farm.
As the Iveco is running on a 58t permit, our route from Rangiora to Patoa Farms is tightly defined, linking up with SH1 at Woodend and staying on that and SH7 until well past the Hawarden turnoff, before heading cross-country to our destination. Wayne explains that if the route is blocked for any reason – an accident, for example – and a detour has been put in place, he’s not able to deviate until express permission has been given by the relevant authorities. 
He laughs: “That sort of thing could really play havoc with our schedule! We’ve been lucky so far – but I guess it’s going to happen one day.”
Because he’s running empty on the return trip, he has more freedom, and occasionally travels back through Hawarden.
Apart from accidents and stop/go roadworks – and for the past few years the stretch of SH1 north of Christchurch has had more than its share of the latter – a round trip typically takes a little over three hours.
Like Wayne, our initial impressions of the Cursor’s power output are in the realm of: “Hmm. Does the job OK, but it doesn’t feel like 570hp.” But it doesn’t take long to realise how deceptively strong the engine is, and we have to keep reminding ourselves that it is lugging a big weight...and showing no signs of strain.
The twists and turns and sharp little climbs of the Weka Pass (exacerbated by stop/go roadworks) put it under some pressure, and Wayne confirms that the Scania got through this section quicker. 
But immediately after that comes the long, steady pull up from Waikari – and that demonstrates perfectly the nature of the Cursor 13’s power and torque band and the shifting protocol employed by the Hi-TroniX gearbox. The climb is a deceptive one, looking much flatter than it actually is, and with its hefty all-up weight, the unit has to work hard at it. 
However, the transmission maintains a higher ratio than you might expect, letting the engine lug down into the mid-1000s. The shift software is obviously responsive to variations in torque loading, and because this is pretty consistent on this stretch of road, it sees no need to drop a ratio or two. When the grade eases, it lets the revs climb steadily to around 1600rpm before effecting a quick upshift. 
Ride comfort from the airbag-suspended cab gets an especially high rating from Wayne, an evaluation that’s borne out as we cover the bumpy section of SH1 to the south of Amberley.
Its assured control also impresses him: “It doesn’t sway as much. The Scania cab would roll, then come back through centre and take a bit to settle down. This one moves as far in the first instance but then settles down very quickly. It must have really good damping control.”
Another tick is given to the overall quietness of the cab. Not only is wind noise restrained (even with a window lowered slightly)….the Cursor 13 engine is a lot less obvious than the lusty Scania V8, Wayne says.
Both NZ Truck & Driver test driver Hayden Woolston and Wayne mention the mirrors. The top (optical) one has quite a large housing, and the pair are also set fractionally lower than normal. Hayden reckons that his eyes seem to stray to that one rather than the main flat one. However, both agree that the generous gap between the vertical A-pillar and the mirrors adds significantly to safety at intersections or when checking for close-by traffic in adjoining lanes.
The cab is quite high-set, with three large steps to get up to it. However, good grabhandles either side of the openings make this less of a challenge than it might be.
With the dash top lower than in many trucks, forward vision out is excellent, while the AS interior offers space to burn and a full lineup of storage, including a pullout fridge under the lower bunk. The two storage lockers for tools and wet weather gear each side of the cab (one accessible directly, the other covered by the door when closed) are especially useful, says Wayne.
He admits he’s still learning his way round the X-Way’s main instrument display, but comments on its relatively uninformative nature: “It might put up a warning light, but there is little explanation as to what it’s about. In the Scania you get a lot more backup information in this sort of situation.”
One thing the Stralis is renowned for is direct and well-weighted steering, and the X-Way proves no different in this regard, threading its way through the Weka Pass with aplomb. The five-axle Cowan trailer is a useful ally in this regard, tracking steadily at all times. The trailer sits on Hendrickson ZMD air-suspended axles and runs 265/70 19.5 tyres.
Standard tyre size for the X-Way 8x4 is 275/70 R22.5 but Gary Baker has plunked for the optional 295/80 R22.5 Michelins. As Wayne Lawton explains: “It can get pretty claggy on the farm in winter, and the low-profile tyres tend to get a huge amount of buildup under the guards. 
“These ones are much better in that regard, and they also seem to give a more comfortable ride on the gravel access road to the facility.”
He’s also looking forward to using the X-Way transmission’s rocking function when winter bites and conditions underfoot become slippery...and he’s already found another benefit, in the form of the truck’s side-exit exhaust: “The auger has remote controls, so you’re not standing closer to the dust and whatnot, so on really cold mornings I can stay near the exhaust. Trust me, it regularly gets to minus-8 degrees at the farm, and any extra warmth is appreciated.”  
Both truck and trailer are fitted with Cowan Trailers-built alloy bins, tipped by Penta underbody hoists. In place of conventional tailgates, they feature funnelled chutes – their bottoms level with the bin floors, meaning delivery to the hopper for the lifting auger is precise and there’s no residue stuck in the bins after delivery.
Side-rolling covers are kept in place pretty well all the time except when loading at Weston, or very occasionally on a hot, dry summer’s day, explains Wayne: “The feed has a milk powder component in it, and if it gets wet it can become a devil to shift.”
The X-Way joins three other Ivecos in the WJ Baker lineup, which would indicate Gary is a dyed-in-the-wool fan of the brand. But not necessarily so, he says: “They’re great trucks, no doubt, but then there’s no such thing as a bad truck from any maker these days.
“However, what makes all the difference is a brand’s service support, and in that respect New Zealand Trucks (Iveco’s central South Island servicing agent) is without compare. The people are so organised and obliging – nothing seems a problem for them.”
So, in the Canterbury area at least, Iveco is doing it right from the bottom up. And from a top-down perspective, the company also looks to be ticking a lot of important boxes with the X-Way.  

Pirelli Trevor Test

We’re down in the South Island, in Rangiora, just north of Christchurch, to catch up with Gary Baker’s new Iveco X-Way – the new Euro 6 model for the Italian truck brand. 
We’ve been waiting a long time to test this truck – with holdups due to COVID-19 and other things. We even took it off our list and checked out testing North Island X-Ways instead….but they would not stack up to be as good a test as this.
This Iveco is on its regular run, carting pig food north on a 58-tonne sticker. Regular driver Wayne Lawton has loaded out of the feed supplier in Rangiora and takes the truck and trailer unit, loaded to 56 tonnes all up, to Waipara….where I take over the driving. Wayne and Gary say that it’s usually loaded to 57.5t.
The climb up into the cab is via three well-placed, deep and wide steps, with good grabhandles on both sides and a wide-opening door. 
Once in, the cab has a familiar Iveco layout as the upgrades to this model are more about the driveline. 
There’s a heated, air-suspended leather seat for the driver, plus plenty of legroom. A foot-controlled button in the middle of the floor unlocks full steering column adjustment, making it easy for any driver to find a comfortable driving position. This cab is a high-rise sleeper, giving it a very spacious feel. 
The dash layout is a wraparound setup with your AMT mode selection buttons (eg Drive, Reverse, Neutral) on the dash – to the left, behind the steering wheel. The manual gear selection controls are on the right-hand steering column stalk. 
To the left on the main wraparound dash there’s a stereo system screen that can be controlled from the steering wheel. Below this are the aircon vents – and then further down the dash you have the park brake and the aircon controls.
On the steering wheel itself are buttons for the hands-free phone functions and one to change the main dash display and the adaptive cruise control settings while in cruise control mode. 
On the left-hand stalk are the wiper, indicator lights and headlight controls, and on the right stalk are the controls for the two-stage engine brake, manual gear selection and the cruise control – plus a toggle on the end of it to increase or reduce the speed in cruise control. 
The main dash layout is very traditional with the tachometer and speedo, plus temp and fuel gauges and a centre digital display showing oil temperatures, cruise control settings and gears. 
I have to say that the various function controls in this cab are not as logical and as easy to settle in with as they are on some other European trucks I’ve tested lately. This maybe comes down partly to the fact that this is not the new Euro 6 cab that Iveco has introduced in Europe….which Iveco NZ says will be launched here in the future.
As I head off, the Iveco 12-speed Hi-TroniX gearbox and the 570hp 13-litre Cursor engine work seamlessly together. The ride’s smooth and it’s very quiet in the cab.
As we head through Weka Pass the truck does its thing nicely, with well-timed shifts up and down through the gears.
It makes it a relaxing drive through the Pass, making the 56t weight seem non-existent.
The ride is extremely comfortable with no road bounce coming up through the cab and the driver’s seat and certainly no load pushing from the five-axle Cowan trailer. 
It has Hendrickson ZMD (zero maintenance damping) axles under it, making for extremely stable handling and very nice tracking.
I do find one issue with the mirror setup: The mirrors are a good size and there’s a good gap between them and the A-pillar to avoid blind spots at roundabouts…..but for some reason the smaller convex mirror is above the larger, flat mirror. I really struggle with this – as I’m repeatedly looking first at the top mirror for my main view.
Wayne says it took him a while to get used to it as well. 
Other than that, the vision from the driver’s seat is great. There are two large spotter mirrors on the left-hand side of the cab – one showing the offside front corner and the other to show down below the left side passenger door.
There’s a big windscreen and a sloping dash to give good vision directly in front. With all this the truck is a breeze to position on the road, even in the tight stuff.
When I hand the truck back to Wayne to make the farm delivery, it’s another ride I don’t want to get out of. 
The engine and gearbox pairing work really well together – and they’re topped off with a supreme ride. The X-Way is just let down a little bit by some cab functionality that could be better designed and implemented….which, as Iveco itself says, is on the way from Europe.