Test drive: New MAN TGX

Will Shiers
May 6, 2020

This article was taken from the first issue of our Product Innovation Daily magazine series. Click here to read the first magazine, completely free.

The MAN New Truck Generation represents the truck maker’s largest investment in 20 years. CM provides an overview of the most significant external and internal alterations to the flagship TGX as well as our take on the driving experience.

While the New Truck Generation TGX retains the same 20-year-old cab shell, all of the body panels have been redesigned. MAN Truck & Bus CEO Joachim Drees admits the new exterior is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. He stresses that it was vital the new truck could be instantly identifi­ed as an MAN, adding that “it’s a timeless design anyway”.

While the three cab roof heights are unchanged, their names are not. Largest is the GX (formerly XXL) with its 2,070mm standing room, then the GM (formerly XLX), and ­finally the GN (formerly XL). The GX gets a new roof and no longer features the oversized front windscreen or the roof windows above the doors.

MAN makes a big deal about the truck being up to 8% more fuel ef­ficient than its predecessor, but only about 1% of this comes from the improved aerodynamics of the new cab. The other 7% is a result of enhanced Effi­cientCruise and the move from Euro-6c to Euro-6d (which occurred in 2019).


At the rather busy launch of the new TGX in Bilbao, Spain, there wasn’t much say in how the available trucks were allocated, but we were fortunate in getting a nicely relevant fl­eet-spec TGX 18.470. Naturally, being on the far side of the Channel, a 6x2 was never going to be likely. Better still, our co-driver was Dave Smith from MAN in the north-east of England, so language wasn’t a problem.

The first advance the driver experiences even before sitting at the wheel is the improved access via better spaced steps and a door that opens to 89 degrees, with the configurable switches mounted on the lower door trim on the way up. At the launch the previous night, we learned that “excellent driver fit” was one of the four key pillars of the design brief, so our expectations were high. They weren’t disappointed as we sat in the high-spec driving seat, which was the only real luxury item fitted above the ­fleet norm.

The steering wheel has a wide range of adjustability and, while not out of a racing car, is nowhere near the size of the old bus-like item. Its spokes carry the controls for the main dashboard and driving functions. The big old rotary gear selection knob has been moved to the right-hand column stalk, a simple forward or reverse device with its Performance, Manual and Efficiency modes selected via its thumb wheel. Neutral is selected by pushing a separate button on the stalk. The left stalk controls indicators and wipers, etc, and was the only jarring part of the experience, feeling harsh and crude in operation. The park brake, which is self-releasing and self-applying if you forget, is now a dash switch just a finger’s reach away, freeing a large chunk of ­floor space.

The ­flexibility and configurability of the digital dash concept means that the days of analogue instruments are likely to be over. The MAN interpretation is both modern and traditional, with the “dials” being clear and gimmick-free. In the default setting we used, the speedo is on the left, rev counter on the right, and adaptive cruise status and audio overview in the middle.


The central screen, available in two sizes of which we had the smaller, contains all of the non-driving functions, such as sat-nav, audio and Apple CarPlay, although the latter is yet to clear Apple’s approval hurdles.

It’s hard to argue with MAN’s contention that a touch screen is incompatible with a potentially bouncy driving environment. Its solution, the SmartSelect, is an admirably effective alternative. An outer, lower ring chooses the function to be controlled, while the inner knob, which also moves around like a joystick, selects within that function. Pressing down con­firms your choice and a return button gets you out. The wrist support pad, which sits over the SmartSelect when not in use, allows accurate control of the rings, which are not so delicate as to be easily wrongly operated.

With the driveline largely carrying over from the ­final Euro-6d iteration of the old model, we weren’t expecting any signi­ficant changes in dynamics, although our previous experience has been in higher-powered versions, and with the ZF TraXon transmission still the only real choice on 6x2 tractors. Engine-wise, the 470, actually 464hp and 2,400Nm, proved smooth and flexible. Our test route involved a signi­ficant hill climb, and we were watching to see how far the D26 in its middle-of- three ratings would dig in. The answer is we don’t know, as it steadfastly remained in top gear and didn’t even get close to 1,000rpm, albeit only running at around 32 tonnes all up. Impressively tenacious, all the same.


This was a rare opportunity to try the 12+2 transmission, with Scania hardware but like the ZF TraXon, with MAN-developed software. A key feature of the 12+2 is its positive layshaft brake device, but to be honest, even MAN insiders admit they are hard pressed to tell the difference in normal use. Having now driven both recently, we can say that in their latest versions, neither is likely to be left wanting in terms of shift speed and response. The truck was fitted with a retarder with two-stages of operation, plus a brake-blending auto mode. Combined with the function that remembers and maintains the speed that you’ve braked to, it made downhill progress totally worry-free. Meanwhile, the Active Lane Assist kept us on the not-so straight and narrow, its interventions clearly felt but never to an intrusive degree. Pending the arrivals of cameras, the traditional mirrors have been improved in terms of blind-spot avoidance.

The ­final driving aid is the MAN Driver smartphone app, allowing functions such as walk-around checks sent straight to base, a tacho overview and driving performance monitoring.

MAN has always felt like the Audi of the truck world, and the new TGX extends this feeling.

This article was taken from the first issue of our Product Innovation Daily magazine series. Click here to read the first magazine, completely free.

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About the Author


Will Shiers

Will has been the editor of Commercial Motor magazine since 2011 and is the UK jury member of the International Truck of the Year.

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