Although there was limited time at the wheel at the recent launch of the S-Way range from Iveco, there was a chance to get a handle on what the S-Way driving experience with the new models is like. The first impression is of a stylish European truck with a distinctive stylish sweep to the front grille. There will be no missing these new models as you meet them on the highway.
The climb up into the driver’s seat is simple, even in the wider AS cabin, as you would expect of any European truck. Inside, sitting in the driving position, the dashboard has been updated and now has larger screens both in front of the driver and on the central binnacle of the wraparound dash.
The surprisingly large steering wheel has plenty of buttons, as we have come to expect. Disconcertingly the cruise controls are on the right, whereas most of the competition have them on the left. However, the steering feel is positive and reassuring.
The right-hand stalk on the steering column controls the engine brake and the left hand one the usual wiper, indicators and light. Once the engine is fired up the driver simply presses the buttons on the dash to their left to select drive and sets off down the highway.
This is where the marriage of the Cursor engine and the Hi-Tronix AMT come into their own, the gears and the acceleration come in smoothly, without fuss. The driver simply uses the right foot to convey how they want the truck to behave and it responds instantly, flicking up though the gears beautifully.
The smoothness of the deceleration matches that of the acceleration. Simply pull back the engine brake control to a controlled move down through the gears and the ability to change the rate of deceleration with the engine brake control. It is out on the road where this truck comes into its own.
The visibility improvement from the new mirrors is clear. Although the mirrors remain relatively large the blindspots of old have been reduced. Instrumentation and controls are also clearly defined and easy to find.
For a modern European truck, it is becoming increasing rare to have a large handle to activate the engine brake and a hand-piece to brake the trailers, but they are still here in the S-Way. Iveco haven’t gone to simple buttons and switches, yet.
On the narrower AT and AD cabins the dashboard runs straight across from the driver’s side to the passenger side. Therefore, the information screen to the driver’s left has been placed centrally on the dash. To aid visibility, the whole unit has been hinged and can be pulled out to face the driver if needed or folded back out of the way when cross-cab access is needed.
Overall, driving the S-Way is a pleasant experience and one which many drivers will appreciate. The integrated driveline functions very well and seamlessly. The active safety systems are equally well integrated and do their job without hitch and also without fuss.
The question is inevitably, will this range of trucks be the one to drag Iveco back into contention in the Australian truck market and get onto the contender’s list of trucking fleets? There is also an Acco replacement waiting in the wings to bolster the chance of a return to favour in the vocational market for the brand.
Success on this front will depend on a number of factors. One of those factors is the quality of the engineering, fit and finish, as well as suitability for the task. These models, as tested, seem to be a possible solution and could help the brand lift its sprits and its sales. If this product invigorates the Iveco team and its network, then they will have the product to make a mark in the Australian truck market once again.