Mercedes-Benz Actros (2015) used truck road test
Just north of Sheffield at Wentworth Park is Mercedes-Benz Approved Used Commercial Vehicle Centre, where it claims that used vehicles are prepared to precisely the same standard as their first-life cousins. The centre doesn’t deal directly with the public, instead it passses the majority of its refurbished stock through the chain to one of its 18 Mercedes-Benz dealers for advertising and onward sale.
The truck prepared for us is a 2015 Actros 2551 6x2 tractor unit with the 510hp Euro-6 engine under the enormous GigaSpace cab. Originally part of the demonstrator fleet, it has run up just 78,328km, but it’s worth remembering that this truck would have been through multiple drivers, many of them unfamiliar with the model, and with no reason to treat it with any care. Painted factory white, we are told the vehicle came off the road just the previous week and had been put through the standard rework process – a glance through the service history reveals no issues other than expected wear and tear.
Before taking this Actros anywhere, we have a good crawl around and find the exterior to be in very good condition; the usual four generous storage lockers open and shut easily first time and without excessive pressure, and the covering panels on those that give access to the interior of the truck are properly in place and in good condition. Bridgestone tyres are fitted throughout, and all have plenty of life in them.
Inside, there is no sign of wear to switches, doors or steering wheel. The only thing to let this example down is the headlining, which is the standard light beige fitted in all Mercedes vehicles of this age. Despite what was no doubt a thorough valeting, inevitably these areas receiving most “traffic” – the back of netted side compartments, for example – are shadowed, and the mattress looks a little tired.
From Wentworth Park, we take a circular route of about 80km. Leaving via the A61 we join the M1 at junction 36 and drop south to the M18 turning north up the A1M along the Doncaster bypass, and return through the notorious multiple roundabouts of the Dearne Valley along the A635 and A6195. This may not be the longest of test routes, but it certainly gives our vehicle plenty of challenges right from the very start.
This Actros is fitted with the PowerShift 3 automated transmission along with Proximity Control Assist (PCA), Active Brake Assist 3 and Mercedes’ GPS-based Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) set to the Economy program – this can now be retrofitted to used vehicles if required. The main two things we learn from our drive are that, when used properly, PPC really is like having a small co-pilot somewhere behind the dashboard doing the hard mental work; however, your average driver wouldn’t be able to use it properly without training. Fortunately
Mercedes offers this to everyone taking on a vehicle with PPC whether new or used, and supplies us with an instructor to teach us the basics.
Once on the motorway we immediately and quite deliberately hit long-term roadworks, a 50mph limit and average speed cameras. With the PPC and PCA engaged, our electronic friend looks after everything to do with going forward, from keeping our speed controlled to making sure we not only don’t hit the car in front, but are informed of how fast it is going so we can judge when to overtake without causing an obstruction. Running an artic through narrowed lanes can be a bit hair-raising, but having our attention free to pay proper attention to what is happening around us makes the whole situation far less stressful.
Returning to normal running conditions, the truck performs as you would expect over what is a more arduous route than first meets the eye. The fashion these days is for near-silence in the cab but this Actros is to our minds a more happy medium – there is occasional wind noise from the sunvisor but otherwise the engine and gearbox are quietly unobtrusive apart from a nice, low and throaty grumble beneath our feet to reassure us there is torque there.
It shows no signs of labouring, even when we launch it into roundabouts and up sharp inclines in completely the wrong gear. We also turn the driver aids off and try ‘driving it ourselves’, only to discover it isn’t really worth the effort. Despite all this, our used Actros still manages to hit 7mpg over the course of the drive.
This particular Actros can be bought through Mercedes’s own finance house for £67,995 plus VAT under a 36-month Agility Hire Purchase agreement, or you can go for a finance lease over the same term paying £2,313.48 per calendar month after month one.
Perhaps more importantly, however, you can walk into your local dealer tomorrow and ask for one just like it but with tipping hydraulics, or a BigSpace cab, or even one that’s been run by Joe PalletHub for three years then tarted up with six spots across the roof, purple paint and airhorns. Whatever variation you fancy, the Mercedes-Benz Used Commercial Vehicle Centre can almost certainly provide it.