Giti Tyres Big Test | No Smoke, No Mirrors

 
 July 2020     Mercedes-Benz Actros 5 1846LS MirrorCam 4x2   Story Dave McLeod Photos Gerald Shacklock

Giti Tyres Big Test - No Smoke, No Mirrors

Rather than the old “all smoke and mirrors,” this new magic Merc is the exact opposite.

Yep, Aramex contractor Gardner Transport’s Mercedes-Benz Actros 1846 LS 4x2 is – literally AND figuratively – an example of no smoke, no mirrors.

A super-clean Euro 6 engine (ie no smoke, no soot – pretty much no nothing)…..

And Merc’s futuristic MirrorCam system – with the usual rear-vision mirrors replaced by mini-cameras mounted in aerodynamic, vision-friendly winglets, their pictures put up on monitors mounted on each A-pillar. 

On top of that, this new MirrorCam Merc has so many tricks up its sleeve that happy driver Matthew Lovich reckons that, while it’s maybe “not magic – it’s extremely good engineering”…..

It is also, he confirms, “as close to magic as you can get.”

The spec sheet lifts the curtain on the magic that lies within. Damon Smith – Mercedes-Benz brand manager for North Island M-B and Freightliner dealer Trucks & Trailers – says that Matthew’s boss Robb Gardner “ticked most boxes for this truck.”

First and foremost, it’s one of the first MirrorCam-equipped Mercs on the road in New Zealand.
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Pirelli Trevor Test

It’s the first day of Level 2 of the COVID-19 emergency and it’s time to break loose with our first post-lockdown Giti Big Test….and the team is raring to go. 

It works for me as the truck is in Whangarei and I’ve spent Level 4 and Level 3 in our Bay of Islands home.

Here’s son Hayden’s report on his experience with this new, high-tech Mercedes-Benz – starting at the Aramex yard in Penrose. 

It’s 5.45am and still dark – so a good time to test these mirrors…. Sorry, I mean cameras and screens. 

When we’re loading there’s not much lighting in the yard and it’s very dark walking around the truck. But inside the cab, the monitor screens show more light than any mirror could.

I get myself set and, like any new driver with the MirrorCam system, you need to set a flashing blue horizontal line on the right-hand screen, to where the rear of the trailer is on the screen. 
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Giti Tyres Big Test - No Smoke, No Mirrors

Rather than the old “all smoke and mirrors,” this new magic Merc is the exact opposite.
Yep, Aramex contractor Gardner Transport’s Mercedes-Benz Actros 1846 LS 4x2 is – literally AND figuratively – an example of no smoke, no mirrors.
A super-clean Euro 6 engine (ie no smoke, no soot – pretty much no nothing)…..
And Merc’s futuristic MirrorCam system – with the usual rear-vision mirrors replaced by mini-cameras mounted in aerodynamic, vision-friendly winglets, their pictures put up on monitors mounted on each A-pillar. 
On top of that, this new MirrorCam Merc has so many tricks up its sleeve that happy driver Matthew Lovich reckons that, while it’s maybe “not magic – it’s extremely good engineering”…..
It is also, he confirms, “as close to magic as you can get.”
The spec sheet lifts the curtain on the magic that lies within. Damon Smith – Mercedes-Benz brand manager for North Island M-B and Freightliner dealer Trucks & Trailers – says that Matthew’s boss Robb Gardner “ticked most boxes for this truck.”
First and foremost, it’s one of the first MirrorCam-equipped Mercs on the road in New Zealand.
But that’s just the first of its bag of tricks: Robb Gardner has a 2016 Merc SUV as his daily driver, but happily reckons that his new Actros has far more high-tech stuff up its sleeve than the wagon. 
There’s Active Brake Assist 5 – a radar and camera-based autonomous emergency braking system that can now automatically carry out full emergency braking (to a standstill) to avoid vehicles and pedestrians alike. 
The truck’s adaptive cruise control system includes Proximity Control Assist that autonomously manages the gap to the vehicle ahead…right down to a stop and a restart. It’s also capable of recognising and autonomously complying with traffic signs, will alert the driver if the truck drifts out of its lane without the indicator on, if there’s anything in the lane that the truck’s moving into…or if he or she is beginning to drive in a fatigue-affected manner.
“I did go overboard,” Robb sums up: “Pretty much the only thing I probably didn’t put on it was the tyre (pressure) monitoring. It wouldn’t go through to the trailer as well, so the cost wasn’t worth it.”
And actually, there was also the option of Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC), which uses what Mercedes-Benz terms “anticipation technology” – making the most of topographic 3D GPS data (which now includes data for many NZ roads) to “see” the road ahead and control the engine and automated transmission accordingly, to optimise fuel economy.
Thus, with PPC there should be no more of those AMT miscues – such as downshifts just before a summit, or shifting up a gear when the truck’s about start up the steepest pinch of a hill. It also flicks into neutral, so the truck can coast whenever possible.
The biggie (certainly the most exciting) is the MirrorCam technology, which Robb definitely wanted in his new truck: “I thought if that’s what’s available I might as well have it.”
He doesn’t know exactly how much extra it cost (and Trucks & Trailers says it’s complicated, because it depends on what else is specced in the safety suite), but does know that “it’s comparable to conventional mirror assembly to replace them. They actually fold, both ways, before they break and it’s only got a small camera inside. That was one of their (Merc’s) concerns. They didn’t want that to be a feature where everyone says ‘it’s too expensive to replace them.’ ”
And he is pretty convinced about their benefits: “They reckon they save 1.5% on fuel. They probably do – but I wouldn’t notice that with what we cart.” 
Also, he suggests, they produce “less wind noise maybe.” And, he adds: “It certainly takes the blind spot out. You’re gonna get a little loss of view on the A-pillar behind the screen, but not much. The clarity is better – night and day – and they move to get the back of the trailer in…and they don’t seem to get dirty either.”
Like Robb, many other Actros buyers are speccing their new trucks with the MirrorCam option, according to Damon Smith: Around 75% of the new Actros trucks he’s selling right now are fitted with the technology.
Mercedes-Benz says that MirrorCam brings safety and fuel economy advantages. Removing the traditional side mirrors and replacing them with the small wings with their integral cameras brings “a substantial aerodynamic advantage” and helps save fuel.
Says Merc: “There is also a dramatic improvement in visibility. This comes, firstly, from the removal of the traditional mirror and its housing from the driver’s view. This improvement is especially evident at intersections. The camera is also able to deliver improved rear vision at night and also in the rain.”
The 15-inch screens on the A-pillars are close to the position of your standard mirrors.
The MirrorCam wings don’t protrude out as far as traditional mirrors and are higher up on the cab, making them less prone to impact. And if they do get hit, they can flex in order to limit damage. If that still doesn’t prevent one getting damaged, the replacement cost is “no more than replacing a traditional side mirror.”
As for the other part of the no smoke, no mirrors magic of this Merc, this 1846 LS 4x2 Actros 5 tractor unit is one of a growing number of trucks on NZ roads that meet the stringent Euro 6 exhaust emissions standard – way ahead of its introduction here. In this case the super-clean powerplant is a 335 kilowatt/455 horsepower OM470, with 2200 Newton metres/1622 pound foot of torque. 
Finally the new Actros package also includes a futuristic multimedia dashboard that includes two large, customisable tablet screens that present information “in super-crisp detail, giving the driver more control and information in a clear and stylish manner.”
So it’s quite appropriate that, even standing still at the Aramex Auckland depot as its three-axle Domett semi-trailer is being loaded, the Actros presents itself as a star – the illuminated Merc three-pointed star shining out like a beacon in the pre-dawn darkness.
Robb’s Actros carts general freight under contract for Aramex (formerly Fastway Couriers), between Whangarei and Auckland – a contract that Gardner Transport has held since 1996. He did the run himself initially but now has a management job in the Bay of Plenty, so has the truck being run by Matthew and another fulltime driver, plus relief driver Dave Still…who also handles truck maintenance and cleaning. 
Robb reckons it’s an easy run – and is easily done within logbook hours: “The cops leave us alone – they know we have two drivers, they know we don’t drive heavy. We’ll be struggling to push 30 tonnes all-up. They’ll stop us maybe once a year.”
Robb concedes he hasn’t yet had the chance to try out the Actros’ technology, but reckons it’s not that difficult to get to grips with: “I haven’t really driven it that much – a bit around Auckland and maybe half a run. But I’m used to things like active cruise control. 
“The plan was to send their driver trainer up for these guys, but with this (COVID-19) lockdown it hasn’t happened yet. I mean, we’re still not using anywhere near what we should be using in it (in terms of its high-tech features) – there’s just so much. Dave (the relief driver) struggles a bit with it, but he’s coping. He leaves a lot of the stuff alone.”
Up until February this year, the Gardner Transport team was running a Renault Lander cabover, which Robb rated “a pretty nice truck.”
Since replacing it with the 455hp Actros, “people ask: ‘Do you need all this horsepower?’ And I say ‘well no, you don’t – but it is pretty good on fuel, it’s easy on the truck.’ 
“I mean, I had a little 280 four-wheeler MAN and they said ‘that’s too much power in a four-wheeler.’
“But you’ve got a couple of hills and you’ve got to drive this road – it’s not like Auckland to Hamilton or Auckland to Taupo (especially now, with the Huntly bypass). It makes it easy if you’re not chasing the hills.”
Also, there’s its economy and its environmental credentials: “It’s using half the AdBlue (compared to the Renault) and the Euro 6 runs so clean. There’s no soot in the exhaust. 
“It’s frustrating: The Government doesn’t give you any incentive or any payback for putting on a Euro 6. I mean, it’s pretty much one step away from electric.”
Other considerations that swayed Robb’s speccing of the Actros included the cab size (he chose the 2.3 metre wide StreamSpace L cab over 2.5m wide options) and driver comfort: “The reason I got that cab and not the bigger one is that it’s one step lower. If I was towing a B-train I would have gone for a bigger cab but I think it’s the ideal size for what we’re doing. You don’t need that extra step and wider cab. 
“I reckon you want the best seats you can get. The roads ain’t getting any smoother. I went for the TrendLine interior.”
Another thing he was very particular about is the rubber his unit runs on – bigger than the standard spec for the tractor unit (with Michelin X Multi 385/ 65R 22.5s on the steer axle and 295/80R 22.5s on the driver): “I always ran 295s, for the last six years. Softer ride and better fuel. We got 225,000km out of the last set of drive tyres on the Renault. And I used to run Chinese tyres for scuffing on the trailer but now, with Michelins, I get about 900,000kms on the centre axle. I don’t run any retreads.”
He ticked so many boxes on the spec sheet “to look after the drivers. And why not! I mean, you can do this run with a Nissan or a Mitsi…..but would you retain your drivers? I mean, I don’t have a big turnover of drivers.”
Robb reckons that he made it so good, “once I drove it I thought ‘Jesus! I should be driving this myself.’ It’s the best truck I’ve ever owned.”
“The Renault was a good truck – but this is better. It’s also about $80,000 more expensive though, so you’re not really comparing apples with apples. At the end of the day….this is overkill. It’s over-specced as far as inside and that.” 
This run, Robb reckons, is easy – a real “retirement run. That’s why I’ve kept it – I can do this when I can’t do anything else…. And with this truck, it drives itself.”
When he reflects on that and says that, actually, “we’re pretty settled where we are,” driver Matthew looks relieved.
Allied Publishing director Hayden Woolston gets behind the wheel for the drive out of Auckland. On a dark and wet morning, conditions are perfect for checking out the MirrorCam tech.
Read his full thoughts on the technology on Page 36. Suffice to say for now that he’s impressed: The rear view, he says, is “crisp and clear. You can just see every car – it’s not just one big haze coming at you, like with mirrors. 
“The lines on the mirror extend outwards when it picks up vehicles. And you don’t have to crane your head when going around sharp left-hand corners to see the rear of the trailer and make sure you’ve gone wide enough. 
“I thought I’d be looking out my window for the mirror, but I’m not. The screens are right there in front of me. No blind spots, so no excuses.” 
Matthew Lovich, who’s been driving for Robb for about a year, gets back behind the wheel at Wellsford. 
He’s been driving loggers, tippers and general freight trucks – as well as a tourist coach running up and down 90 Mile Beach in Northland – for around six years.
But it’s the Kawakawa-based Matthew’s experience as a volunteer firefighter that mostly informs his feelings about the Actros and its impressive suite of safety features.
“All these little features that come into play make the job easier as well as safer....if something like this will help a distracted or tired truck driver from crashing into someone then that’s a good thing. 
“Because I’ve scraped too many people off the roads, I think the more things in place (safety-wise) the better. 
“It’s not making heaps of noises (beeps) at me all the time...it’s just the small, little things that make it that much safer for everybody.”
We take off with the 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated manual transmission in third gear and it shifts up effortlessly, changing gears at 1400rpm.
Matthew’s working days start in Whangarei, with the Merc’s first of two runs for the day down to Auckland. After unloading and reloading freight, he heads north again. Before signing-off for the day he unloads the unit and reloads whatever freight’s ready to go for the later run.
The Actros tares at 6850kg and the trailer weighs-in at 5940kg.Matthew reckons we’re only at around 27 tonnes all-up – way short of the unit’s 44t permitted gross combination weight.
After the Renault, Matthew rates the Merc a big step up: “Oh yeah – just how much interesting electronic stuff there is to play with. All the different systems that are built into the touchpad screens – and how you can control everything from that system. It just makes life so much easier, not having to hunt for anything in the dark. It’s all right there. And the wireless phone charger’s a plus.”
He’s pretty happy with the virtual mirrors: “They’re quite good,” he offers initially. Then he smiles and adds: “Okay….very good. 
“They didn’t take long to get used to. I play a lot of computer games in my spare time, so I’m used to them. I was actually saying to some of the guys in the fire brigade that we should get them because it’d be much easier in terms of backing the truck into the station.”
Now he has more praise for them: “You don’t really get any water on them as such, so you’re not getting that blurred vision. And you’re not looking through a couple of different layers to see the mirror – on a rainy day like today, (normally) you’ve got the rain on the surface of the mirror, plus the layer on the window. These screens make it so much clearer. 
“And you’ve always got the back of the trailer in your sight as they tilt to go with the back of the trailer. As soon as you go around a decent corner, the MirrorCam will actually adjust to keep the back of the trailer in sight.
“The screens themselves have digital markings to assist you too: There’s a blue line to indicate the rear of the trailer – something that you set up to suit each driver. Plus three yellow lines indicate 50, 80 and 100 metres to the rear, allowing for safe overtaking and lane return. It’s quite cool how, when you’re overtaking, the lines extend out to show safe zones. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of it.”
Matthew believes that does make him a safer driver.
“And you’ve got very limited blind spots as compared to a conventional mirror. The only one drawback I’d say is that the screens do block out a little bit of visibility behind the A-pillar.”
Matthew doesn’t use everything in the Actros’ safety arsenal: “It’s got everything I need – does everything I want it to…. And more.” 
It’s a statement underlined by the fact that he’s turned off the lane keeping assistance system, to silence its beeping alert: “I typically turn it off when out of the city.”
But he is a fan of the Active Brake Assist 5: “A van pulled into my lane and must have just about missed its turn, at the last minute….and slammed on the brakes. 
“I had started to brake but the system locked up everything for me. It was good, but it was a ‘clean my underwear’ moment….plus a bit of swearing and a couple of hand gestures.”
The cab itself is definitely Mercedes-Benz premium. The layout is roomy and there’s a lot of storage space including some that stretches the width of the cab, above the windscreen. 
Visibility via the windscreen and side windows is good. Combined with MirrorCam you’ve almost got 360-degree vision. 
At night the cab’s ambient lighting can be set to a choice of two colours. Matthew has used the bed but only to rest, not to sleep. The cab’s also nice and quiet.
“That’s one thing I couldn’t get over when I first got this – just how quiet the cab was compared to the Renault. This thing is just silent. You know it’s a good vehicle when you jump on your Bluetooth and have a conversation without yelling.”
He’s impressed with the seats too: “They are very comfortable – leather…and heated, with a variety of lumbar control adjustments. The steering wheel is tilt and telescopic. The screens are easy to get to – no stretch at all. 
“You can change the mode of the dash….to a different version, like expert mode – where it displays just one big dial and you can adjust it to suit what you want displayed.”
Steering wise, Matthew is very relaxed at the wheel. He’s not craning his neck to look at the mirrors to see the back of the trailer. There are no big blind spots and the tech is easy to navigate around. 
Admittedly, he’s of a generation that’s comfortable with technology, but he’s also convinced that the older generation will find it easy to get along with.
“Our relief driver Dave is a little bit older – and he’s picked it up very well. You only use what you need to use and then introduce things as you go. In saying that, when I first got this, I spent a lot of my time when parked, going through the menus – seeing what’s there, playing with the lights, figuring all that out.”
With a truck like this, on a run like this, Matthew seems rather content: “Oh yeah – too easy. Leave home at midnight, get home before lunchtime. It benefits the family, and the firefighting stuff as well.”
The COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown meant that Matthew had “an extended holiday.” He was actually booked to go on a real holiday at the time – to Fiji.
When he resumed work during the last week of Level 4, the freight demand between Auckland and Whangarei took off – prompting the company to put the Actros onto three runs a day.
The toughest part of the run north is up the Brynderwyn Hills, which the Actros starts into in ninth gear, at 48 km/h, with the revs sitting at 1200, holding it at that as we get onto the slow vehicle bay.
Matthew commentates our progress: “Absolutely no drama at all and there’s a lot more power if I need it – I’m only at about a quarter in on the throttle. I’m only feathering it. 
“The power is good enough for what we do. The loads are always quite light. You wouldn’t want to be towing a fully-loaded B-Train with this, but for what we do, this is perfect.” 
You have to watch your speed, he says, “because the thing is so smooth… It’s a fantastic machine. It’s so effortless.”
Eventually the PowerShift drops a gear – the downshift so smooth and quick it’s barely noticeable. We settle at 36km/h and 1400rpm. 
That’s as low as it gets – the revs rising to 1900 near the crest of the hill, prompting  the PowerShift to upshift two gears….only to correct that, and go back to 10th, at 1500rpm. It is an extra shift than what was actually needed….but it’s seamless, with no apparent loss of forward motion. 
Starting down the hill, Matthew has the three-stage retarder on Stage 2, touching the brake pedal lightly to keep his distance from the slower moving traffic ahead. We’re doing 60k, in ninth, at 1600rpm. 
Approaching the scenic lookout, he accelerates slightly and the PowerShift goes up to 12th. A slower vehicle in front then forces us briefly down to 10th. 
The PowerShift clearly loves keeping the revs as low as possible and it almost imperceptibly shifts up again to top.
Clear of the hill, Matthew engages the adaptive cruise, set to 88km/h, and relaxes. A green light appears on the dash display to let him know that the radar has locked onto the car in front and mimics its speed.
“The adaptive cruise control is great – really works well. But I don’t typically use it around the hills – just on the flat and motorways. I prefer to have control of the truck in the bends. 
“If I know I’m coming up to a real tight corner, I’ll turn it off and manually take myself around the corner and as soon as I’m sweet again I’ll turn it back on. The last thing I want is to have it set on 80km/h, go hot into a corner and have someone wipe out on the other side of the corner. 
“I’d rather slow down myself. At the moment anyway, while I’m still getting used to it – and especially with freight on board. You never know what you’ve got on there. We could be carrying anything and everything...”
Even though Matthew obviously knows the route from Penrose to Whangarei, he still likes to have the navigation up on the screen. He’s still coming to grips with the live traffic feature – so far feeling that it’s more relevant to city traffic. There is even an option on the system to add or remove speed cameras to the display.
On the flat, we’re in 12th gear, at 84km/h and 1100 rpm. Adaptive cruise control is set at 88km/h but a slower vehicle in front is dictating our speed.
Matthew’s not bothered: “No need to go fast. It’s only going to make a 10-minute difference – if that.”
There is plenty of roadworks going on along the route and he confirms that the stopping and starting is “a pain in the arse.
“Over the last week of lockdown there was none but now…..they’re back with a vengeance. Hopefully when it’s done life will be a bit easier – not that it needs to be. It’s already easy enough as it is. It will be nice not to go through some of the little pocky areas, like the Puhoi Valley and the Warkworth traffic lights.”
The two-leaf spring front suspension (7.5t rated) and air suspension on the drive axle really absorbs the uneven road surface: “It’s fantastic. I don’t really pay too much attention to the suspension as such but it’s a comfortable ride, even through the roadworks.”
As we look out over the ocean to Bream Head, the MirrorCam Actros cruises along and Matthew confirms: “I’ve found that driving this, bad days are few and far between, compared to the Renault. The Renault was okay to drive – it was a nice truck. But it was having too many issues towards the end.  
“But this is something else. I think I drove this when it only had 400kms on the clock. It’s now up near 40,000kms. You definitely get used to this one: I wouldn’t want to go back to anything else.”
In Whangarei, as we turn into the back entrance of the Aramex depot in Herekino Street, the MirrorCam really comes to the fore. It’s a tight turn off the street into an alley lined by cars, to access the depot’s yard. It definitely requires extra vigilance….aided by the reference lines on the MirrorCam monitors, plus its ability to move the camera view with the turn. 
Despite the challenges, it allows Matthew to get the unit in with relative ease: “I don’t think I’d get in here with normal mirrors to be honest with you. Not without having to get out and check.”
Okay, everything we’ve seen today indicates that with this MirrorCam Actros, Merc has conjured up something pretty magical.
But there is still another trick to be revealed: During the unloading, from out of the trailer comes a bizarre piece of freight – a cage containing a live turtle!
It’s as near as dammit to a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.  

Pirelli Trevor Test

It’s the first day of Level 2 of the COVID-19 emergency and it’s time to break loose with our first post-lockdown Giti Big Test….and the team is raring to go. 
It works for me as the truck is in Whangarei and I’ve spent Level 4 and Level 3 in our Bay of Islands home.
Here’s son Hayden’s report on his experience with this new, high-tech Mercedes-Benz – starting at the Aramex yard in Penrose. 
It’s 5.45am and still dark – so a good time to test these mirrors…. Sorry, I mean cameras and screens. 
When we’re loading there’s not much lighting in the yard and it’s very dark walking around the truck. But inside the cab, the monitor screens show more light than any mirror could.
I get myself set and, like any new driver with the MirrorCam system, you need to set a flashing blue horizontal line on the right-hand screen, to where the rear of the trailer is on the screen. 
Once set, using controls on the door that are just like electric mirror controls, the system displays a blue line showing where the back of your combination is at all times.
Once out on the motorway, as we head north through the city and over the Harbour Bridge, the headlights from following cars are very clear in the monitors, with no glare. 
I can easily identify each car across two other lanes of traffic – and the cars coming up my right-hand side are in the camera view the whole time. So, no blind spots. I don’t get to try the left-side one in the same way, as no-one comes past on the inside. 
I’m surprised at how quickly I adjust to not looking for a normal mirror. The screens are not hard to miss at all.  
Once over the bridge I put the truck in cruise control….after realising that it won’t activate until I disengage the engine brakes. A quick flick up on the right-hand steering column stalk and brakes are off and cruise is on. 
It’s time to sit back and enjoy the ride – not that I wasn’t already. With the adaptive cruise and comfy double armrests on the seat, driver comfort is amazing. 
I run on cruise control all the way to the Northern Gateway tunnel. From here there are patches of roadworks, rough roads and some hills. 
The ride is smooth, the gearbox and engine work seamlessly together – the combination showing its abilities as we pass another truck heading up Windy Ridge. Before I know it we’re in Wellsford and I grudgingly give Matt his truck back.
This mirrorless technology is something I’ve seen Mercedes marketing internationally for some time now and it’s good to finally experience it and put some concerns I had about it to bed. I can’t fault it to be honest.
Trevor here again: I meet up with the test truck after it’s been unloaded and is ready for me to give it the once-over. It’s no big deal that it’s empty, as the thing of most interest to me is the MirrorCam system and the other high-tech safety features on this truck. 
I can’t remember the last time we tested a 4x2. Talking to owner Robb Gardner there are some very good reasons for the single-drive setup and it works very well for him in this application – running courier freight between Whangarei and Auckland.
Cab entry is by way of three very good steps – some of the best in the industry, with good, wide, deep and evenly-spaced treads and grabhandles both front and back of the door. 
Once inside it’s easy to get comfortable, with plenty of seat and steering adjustment to suit any size of driver. The seat itself is great, with excellent lumbar support and plenty of length in the seat base. 
Visibility is excellent, with a good deep and wide screen, with nothing to block the view outfront and with the camera screens on the A-pillars, there are no mirror blindspots out the side at intersections. 
The main displays on the dash are two digital screens – one immediately in front of the driver, with the usual speedo and tachometer, plus major engine function gauges….
And then a centre-dash touchscreen for a wide range of features such as climate control, entertainment system and other functions.
The steering wheel itself has touchpads for both screens and on the right of the steering column is a stalk with the AMT selector and the engine brake control. On the left stalk are the indicators and headlight dip control.
As well as MirrorCam all the safety feature boxes have been ticked for this truck and it’s an impressive list, headed by Active Brake Assist 5 and Proximity Control Assist.
But MirrorCam is our main focus and so we leave the yard and head out the Port Road to do some reversing testing with the system.
The first thing I notice is that you tend to look out the window for the mirror – not surprising after over 45 years of driving trucks with external mirrors. It doesn’t take long however to get used to looking at the A-pillars and finding the “mirror” screens.
This is all new technology and it’s great that the cameras offer up both a natural view and a magnified view. Also, on the screen is an adjustable line showing the exact positioning of the rear of the trailer and three markers for the area immediately behind the trailer – 50m, 80m and 100m. 
Where the traffic is a bit lighter, I put the unit through its paces with both onside and blind side backing into a side street.
It takes a couple of goes to get used to the cameras, but once you get the positioning right, they’re great – with the magnified mirror following the rear of the trailer right throughout the whole manoeuvre.
After a few trials for both Hayden and I it’s time to head out onto the open road and get a feel for its driveability.
Highway driving is extremely comfortable, with no bumping at all coming up through the cab and seat and no external noise. With the windows up it’s almost silent in the cab.
The OM470 engine, with its 455hp and 2200Nm of torque, moves the truck along easily and Hayden assures me that even loaded it’s a lively engine.
The Mercedes PowerShift 3 AMT is so smooth you don’t even notice the gearshifts, other than the rev changes.
Robb has set the truck up on Michelin 385/65 R22.5 front tyres and 295/80 R22.5 rear tyres – having recorded some outstanding tyre life figures with this setup on his previous trucks. I’m not sure how much they effect the ride, but it certainly feels stable and although the roads are a bit wet I don’t feel any traction issues with the larger tyre size. 
As I’ve said before, Mercedes trucks give the impression of being an old man’s truck – because driving them is so effortless and comfortable, with never the need to rush anything, as the truck seems to read the road ahead so well and the safety features take so much stress out of the job.