The MAN CLA EVO range of medium and heavy duty trucks are aimed at the ‘Value’ bulk-cargo transportation in the domestic market. I took part in MAN Trucks India’s ‘Expedition’ campaign as a part of its eleventh anniversary celebrations to read the load hauling-cum-cruising capabilities and cabin dynamics of the trucks.
Expeditions are undertaken for both purpose and pleasure. When I received an invitation from MAN Trucks to participate in a road tour with their haulage trucks, I was excited. Since the expedition was a comprehensive one, spanning over 51 days and 9,000 kms across three different paths covering the length and breadth of Indian mainland, I must pick a moment in the trail to be pragmatic. To my convenience, I chose the 160 kilometer Coimbatore to Namakkal stretch in one of the expedition route en route MAN’s Pithampur plant, the one from Kochi via Chennai and Vijayawada.
Two other teams are scheduled to start from Pune and Dhanbad respectively in a similar vein to reach the destination, I was told. The ultimate purpose of these expeditions is to demonstrate the superiority of the CLA EVO cargo truck series in long-haulage applications across different terrains of India to the market audience. All through the journey, the trucks are to stop at key transport hubs, motels, and dealerships on the way to convey the message.
It was 6 am, hazy weather, when I reported at MAN dealership at Coimbatore. Awaiting me were MAN CLA 49.300 EVO 6×4 tractor with a 40 ft. TSI trailer and 31.300 EVO 8×4 rigid hauler, along with the expedition team. Both the trucks are jacked-up with the rated payload, and will be driven only by trained ‘Master Drivers’ all through the expedition, so all I had to do was to cuddle myself to a co-driver seat of the trucks.
Design wise, the ‘EVO’ suffix to the MAN CLA cargo trucks does spruce-up its largely conservative looks. The redesigned dull-black bumper now boasts fresh headlamp units with daytime running lights. The ‘Lion’ in the brand logo is missing, but the MAN lettering under a chrome housing looks more pronounced. The custom blue paint scheme with attractive graphics made the expedition trucks more pleasing.
On the inside, the cabin and dashboard layout remains utilitarian. Both the driver and co-driver seats are air suspended, while the former gets 3-way adjustment. There are ample storage compartments in the dashboard and over-head rack, while the cabin is adequately spacious. The steering wheel is great to hold, and the column features height and rake adjustment. Both expedition trucks were equipped with cruise control and HVAC system with effective blowers, which literally made the day travel bearable.
The suspended cabin did filter-out a great deal engine heat and road noise. Road vibrations were partly taken care by suspended seats. Although, the ride was still bumpy, especially the tractor-trailer, but that was expected. Nevertheless, I must say that the MAN CLA trucks are a huge leap from basic trucks that are the norm of the haulage industry. Rightly termed as value trucks, these are kind of semi-premium offering that are fast-catching up in the industry. They strike a balance between affordability and premium comfort.
But what impressed me was the cruising abilities of these trucks. The 31.300 rigid truck, in particular, was simply brisk enough to make overtakes and pursual in highways, without any harsh acceleration and gearshifts as such. It was also partly the master driver who was behind the wheel of this truck, he kept up right rpm and managed gearshifts cleverly, so as maintain constant acceleration and speeds. In the 49.300 tractor, the drivers smartly used the Exhaust Valve Brake (EVB) for all anticipated slow-downs and while descending down flyover slopes, thereby averting regular braking which would otherwise demand a gear down-shift. This way they can maintain constant speed and lower fuel consumption. Although the trucks can hit speeds up to 80 kmph max, drivers of both the vehicles did not breach 60 kmph mark so as to register optimum fuel efficiency throughout the trip. In addition, the cruise control feature equipped in both the trucks helped their cause as well. Oh yeah, this whole expedition is to prove some point, right?
Powering the CLA EVO trucks is a 6.9-litre, in-line 6-cylinder, MAN D-0836 engine with a turbo-charger and intercooler. Mated to a 9-speed ZF synchromesh gearbox, the engine generates a healthy 300 hp power in both the expedition trucks. This time, the company has added 250 hp variant in its engine range for the buyers to choose as well. MAN Trucks have earned a great reputation in the Indian market for their reliable engine and longer life, even touching 1 million kms in odo-reading! I could feel that all through the ride, the engine felt refined at all speeds, with lower NVH levels.
We cruised like a pro in the NH 544 Coimbatore-Salem expressway up to Komarapalayam. It’s time for some narrow district roads now, I was a bit skeptical too. I know this upcoming stretch very well, full of twists and turns, including a railway level crossing with a height gauge! But both the trucks took the challenging road with ease, steered through the clumsiness of the town traffic of Tiruchengode, and reached the destination Namakkal, the ‘truck town’ of South India, by noon. I bid adieu to the trucks later with a sense of contentment. It was a good trip!
The tipper segment has been MAN’s forte all these years. But with improved potentials, especially post GST where inter-state and long-distance hauling is expected to get huge boosts, the company is eager to penetrate into the cargo segment. Plus, it has a very vibrant range of haulage trucks in the 16 to 49 tonne category that needs no formal intro. With improved fuel efficiency and lower TCO of these trucks in BS IV livery, the CLA EVO makes an appealing proposition for long-distance haulers.
MAN CLA EVO 49.300 6×4 & 31.300 8×4 – Image Gallery
SPEC FOCUS – MAN CLA EVO Haulage Series (BS IV)
|49.300 EVO 6×4 tractor||31.300 EVO rigid truck|
|Engine||Dl, Turbo-charged Intercooled
MAN D-0836, 6.9-litres
|Output||Max Power: 300 hp @ 2,300 rpm
Max Torque: 1,150 Nm @ 1200-1800 rpm
|Transmission||ZF 9-speed synchromesh gearbox|
|Front Axle||Heavy-Duty Drop forged I-Beam type, Maintenance free Hub Bearings||Heavy Duty Drop Forged I-Beam type, Maintenance free Hub Bearings|
|Rear Axle||MAN Planetary Tandem Bogie with Hub Reduction, Inter Axle and Stabilizer Bar||Fully floating single speed Hypoid Axle|
|Front Suspension||Semi Elliptical Leaf springs with Double Acting Shock Absorbers||Semi Elliptical Leaf springs with Double Acting Shock absorbers.|
|Rear Suspension||Heavy Duty Bogie type suspension||Bell Crank Type Suspension|
|Brakes||S-Cam, Dual-Circuit, Air-actuated Drum Brakes with ABS|
|Engine Brake||MAN Exhaust Valve Brake (EVB)|
|Inter-axle Differential Lock||Yes||Nil|
*An edited version of this article has been published in the January 2018 edition of MotorIndia Magazine.