Scania L360 8X4: Low-entry cab test

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Jump to: Vehicle specifications, In the cab, On the road.

With an automatic kneeling function on the air suspension, luxurious cab trim, low-noise levels and excellent field of view, Scania’s L360 is every low-entry cab driver’s dream.

The Scania L-series is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive vehicles on British roads, attracting lots of double-takes from oncoming drivers and passers-by alike. Not only is its appearance so unlike anything else on the road, but it’s so new that most people will never have seen one before, particularly in the rather conspicuous Blaze Orange paint. The effect is even greater as a tipper. It’s not often you see a tipper body’s headboard and ram above the cab roof. From the side, the long and low tipper and long and low cab just inches above the ground give it the appearance of a racing snake.

The L-series is the ultimate extension of Scania’s modular construction philosophy, where the same larder of ingredients are mixed and matched to create a veritable smörgåsbord of variants, from the low-entry L-series up to the ¬flat¬ floor, high-roof S-series long-haul tractor. Apparently, the only major component common to all is the windscreen.

Vehicle specifications

  • <b>Make/model:</b> Scania L 360
  • <b>Engine:</b> Scania DC09 9.3-litre 360hp
  • <b>Transmission:</b> Scania 2-pedal Opticruise 12-speed
  • <b>Chassis:</b> 8x4
  • <b>Cab type:</b> Low-entry crew-cab
  • <b>Body:</b> Wilcox Wilcolite tipper

Climbing aboard the L-series cab is a similar experience from either side. The slam doors, which only open to 85 degrees but cause no major hindrances on the inside, and the generously sized alloy-treaded steps, are the same on both sides. There’s a significant step up, which might challenge stiff old joints, but it’s reduced to its minimum by the automatic kneeling function of the full-air suspension, activated when the electronic park brake is applied and dropping the height by 100mm. Getting into the driving seat is helped by the ¬ at bottom of the steering wheel and when there, the instrument panel looks much the same as any other Scania. The view to the outside looks distinctly alien, though, sitting so low and so far forward, although it helps that we drove a few airport catering trucks many years ago.

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In the cab

All-round visibility is generally excellent, although the nearside lower window is rather pointless. If a passenger is carried – a highly likely possibility for this type of vehicle – their legs will obscure it, and even if they aren’t, visibility is reduced by some overlapping door trim. Not that it matters, because the mirrors are excellent and the other windows are generously sized, including those behind the B-pillars. They help to provide a distinctly bright and airy environment, helped by the light-coloured trim away from areas vulnerable to dirt, and the glazed roof hatch.

This example of the L-series is set up as a tipper, with just one passenger seat in its low-roof day cab, which like the driver’s, is luxuriously trimmed in black leather. Other cab options are the normal-height day cab, 340mm higher, and the high-roof day cab, which adds another 260mm. Of course, different interior layouts to suit the number of crew are also available. Cross-cab access, essential in some of the applications that the L-series will be put into, is slightly hindered by the 200mm engine tunnel, but rather more so by the display for the Brigade camera system and a tablet mounting bracket, as well as the Alco-lock. This ensures that before you go anywhere, you must convince a computer you are sober enough to start work.

In this format, the L-series has masses of in-cab storage space. While overscreen space is inevitably limited by the low roof, there are still a couple of shallow locations, but there is plenty of room for loose bags, PPE and clothing behind the seats, together with wall-mounted storage nets, a lidded central bin and a large open tray on the engine hump, which is ideal for keeping drinks, documents and other oddments tidy.

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On the road

So having had a good enough look around the cab to begin to feel at home, it was time to experience the L-series’ dynamic qualities out on the road. Our example was an L360, its 5-cylinder 9.3-litre engine’s rating being the highest of four, starting at 280hp, coupled to a two-pedal 12-speed Opticruise transmission. The chassis was an 8x4 tridem, with the middle pair of axles doing the driving, and carried a Wilcox Wilcolite body.

Leaving our base, the ¬first two challenges were joining a busy main road from an entrance shared with a filling station, then heading straight into a five-way roundabout. Although you never become unaware of the driving position, sitting on the long overhang ahead of the front axle, no real allowances need to be made during manoeuvring. The only feature of the low-slung driving position is that it seems to encourage driving too close to the left side of the road, initially requiring a conscious effort to keep away from the verge. This might not have been so noticeable were it not for the rather hard ride on potholes and trenches, so adding to the bumps by driving over drain covers wasn’t a good idea.

The slightly bumpy ride, though, was more than compensated for by the L-series’ noise levels. Typically for Scania’s products, the reading at tickover was barely above the background level outside, and at top speed, it proved to be in a different league to its rivals. The only distraction – though a signi¬ficant one – was that the Brigade blind-spot system seemed to be set to detect England, with a noisy intrusion at every opportunity. With leather seats and premium saloon car noise levels, low-entry cab drivers have never had it so good.

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Rygor Commercials (Gloucester), Commercial Motor Awards 2018 Forecourt / Showroom of the Year Award: Winners' Profile

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When it was announced that Mercedes-Benz dealer Rygor Commercials (Gloucester) had won the Commercial Motor Awards category for Forecourt/Showroom of the Year 2018, it came as no surprise. We first visited the site two years ago, when the paint was barely dry on this new dealership, which replaced the outgrown premises at nearby Tewkesbury. Our host for this return visit was sales director and truck dealer principal John Keogh.

Rygor is the largest Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealer in the south-west of England, with 11 locations ranging from Nuneaton down to Heathrow and across to Chilcompton in Somerset. Although Rygor’s head office remains at its original home of Westbury, its flagship branch is the new 3.5-acre site in Gloucester, handy for the M5 and, usefully for online customers who buy trucks unseen, Gloucester’s main railway station.

Arriving at the site, whether in a car or a 44-tonner, you immediately appreciate that Rygor has addressed one of the biggest challenges of truck dealerships, finding somewhere to park. Not only does Rygor Gloucester have plenty of room, but the spaces are fit for purpose, from the asphalt-surfaced light vehicle spaces large enough to accommodate the biggest Sprinter to the separate concrete truck section including nine bays that will take a full-size artic.

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It’s only by the presence of vans and pick-ups that you realise you aren’t in the showroom of a Mercedes-Benz car dealership, essential given that the X-Class is targeted as much at the lifestyle vehicle market as vocational users. Apparently the UK is the only market where the new pick-up is being sold through the CV network, everywhere else in Europe treating it as a car derivative. The showroom includes a welcoming front-of-house receptionist to steer you to the right area – whether sales, service or parts – and there’s a mezzanine wifi enabled working area, spotless toilets and, most importantly, decent coffee on tap. The parts counter is particularly impressive, with a Lean-Lift system going to fetch all bar a few fast-moving items to the counter.

Sales direct from the Gloucester showroom are mainly vans.

“There are almost no walk-in sales for trucks. They are better sold in the operator’s yard. It’s easier for the salesman to be able to see the operation close up.” John Keogh, sales director and truck dealer principal, Rygor Gloucester

Having said that, one recent visitor bought a one-year-old Actros to pull a motorhome made from a converted ex-racing trailer, and another recently bought a Unimog for recreational use. However, despite being ­ lled with new vans and pick-ups, the showroom was designed to accommodate larger products, and will be pressed into action shortly with the dealership launch of the new Actros 5.

Rygor’s parts stock was increased by 6% in the spring in anticipation of the Brexit false start, and will remain in place until there’s a resolution one way or another. This raises not just extra cost issues, but puts pressure on storage space. Sales-wise, the only negative impact so far has been a slowdown in the construction sector, but Keogh remains optimistic, saying: “People should be prepared for a sudden switch-on of major projects.” Other trends in truck sales have been harder to quantify.

Vans, meanwhile, are certainly heading upwards, year-to-date orders being up 25%, with Sprinter doing well but the biggest rise coming from Vito, while Citan is reported to be selling well to operators looking for a smaller van with truck dealer benefits.

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ATF Frustration

The Gloucester workshop is much busier at the moment after one key client, Ryder, closed its own workshop. Its ATF lane, however, remains short of testing staff, and Keogh expresses his frustration. “We can’t see a way out. [Working for the] DVSA is not an attractive proposition to apprentices.”

Keogh is very much a hands-on boss, and manages personally to sell some 100 vans and 50 trucks a year. As is the case throughout the network, the imminent Actros 5 is keenly anticipated, and at the time of our early summer visit, 30 were already on order. Keogh con­firmed Mercedes’ claim that no-one has yet chosen to delete the controversial MirrorCam. Interestingly, around 30% of early orders are from medium-sized operators not currently running Mercedes products.

As a group, Rygor’s ownership of a branch on the doorstep of the environmentally sensitive Heathrow Airport means it keeps a close eye on alternative fuels. The branch is already one of the originally appointed service points for the Fuso e-Canter operational trials in London. Now, electric Vitos are selling well and there’s huge potential interest in an electric Sprinter, Keogh saying he could sell every one he gets his hands on.

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  • The Commercial Motor Awards return on Thursday 28 November 2019 at The Vox Centre, Birmingham, celebrating the best in new and used commercial vehicle sales and aftersales. The awards welcomes not only dealers, but also bodybuilders, finance, rental, leasing and contract hire providers. Enter now for free and have your excellence recognised by the industry.