International Truck Stop – Dutch treats on and off-road

In International Truck Stop15 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 22, 2017

After launching the new CF and XF earlier this year, DAF has rolled out the next phase in its model renewal programme with its latest multi-wheelers and a new LF City.

Less tare greater payload. New DAF 8-leggers are lighter by up to 250kg.

The DAF XF and CF tractors have undergone a full engineering makeover, inside and out (Ref Aug 17 issue). Aerodynamic tweaks mean the air slips past their cabs a lot easier, while inside smart new interiors should keep even the pickiest drivers happy. However, under the hood is where you‘ll find the most significant changes.

Along with gaining more power and torque, the Dutch truck maker‘s MX-11 and MX-13 inline sixes now have higher compression ratios, new turbos, reworked cylinder heads, new pistons and injectors, new oil modules, a more powerful engine brake, and fully controllable ‘variable‘ pumps for air-con, cooling, oil and steering. They‘ve also gained ZF‘s new 12-speed TraXon auto-box (replacing the previous AS Tronic) and a completely redesigned, more efficient emissions control system that takes up 40% less space on the chassis (and saves 50kg along the way) without affecting SCR conversion rates. At the back there‘s a new family of more fuel-efficient rear axles with ratios as low as 2.05:1, allowing 85km/h cruising at 1,000 to 1,040pm.

Add to those new hardware changes new drivetrain software management, and you end up with fuel savings of up to 7%. That‘s no idle boast, for according to Ron Borsboom, DAF‘s chief engineer; those operators who have bought the latest XF and CF tractors are already confirming the manufacturer‘s fuel economy claims. In the UK, DAF has taken orders for more than 1,600 new CF and XF tractors, with many already clocking up miles on British roads.

Having started its range renewal with tractors back in April, it was only a matter of time before all their improvements appeared on their multi-wheelers. New Zealand Trucking was on hand to see them—and drive them too. Along with the latest MX drivetrains, the XF and CF multi-wheelers have gained other new options like a 10-tonne capacity dual-wheel trailing axle and an all-new electro-hydraulic steered trailing axle for 6×2 and 8×2 chassis. The positively steered trailing axle has a 7.5-tonne rating, is virtually maintenance-free, and offers much improved manoeuvrability compared with a regular 6×4/8×4.

Typical applications for the latter will be on refuse wagons and bulkers, while for those delivering into tight spaces, there‘s an 8×2 ‘FAQ‘ 4-axle chassis option on both XF and CF, consisting of a 9.0-tonne capacity single-steer axle up front, with a Tridem bogie at the back comprising an 8.0-tonne steering (and lifting) lead axle, 11.5-tonne drive axle and the 7.5-tonne new electro-hydraulic lifting tag steer—all riding on air.

Meanwhile, for all those regularly working up to their axles in muck there‘s an updated 26-tonne hub reduction back bogie too. Actually, we poms don‘t use a lot of hub reduction in Blighty—most of our 8x4s (which we run at 32 tonnes GVW) have more fuel-efficient single-reduction bogies. That said, you‘ll still find double-reduction back bogies on ‘muck-away‘ eight-leggers doing site clearance. Although the latest multi-wheeler line-up consists of both CF and XF models with MX-11 and MX-13 diesels, in the UK the focus will predominantly be on the CF chassis with the 10.8-litre MX-11 six-pot (rated from 370 to 450hp and with significantly better torque than previous variants), not least due to its 200kg payload advantage over an MX-13 lump.

The Tridem-equipped CF FAQ 4-axle rigid is very at home in busy streets.

DAF LF City interior.

Optional lower Vision door with electrically operated main window
costs an extra €870 but is worth the money for city drivers.

For years DAF has made auto boxes an option on their heavy chassis, long after others fitted them as standard. However, with the arrival of TraXon, that‘s changed. The 12-speed direct-top ZF auto (which replaces the old AS Tronic) is now standard fare on all DAF chassis with MX-11 and MX-13 engines, while double-drive construction multi-wheelers get specific off-road gear-shifting software too. A 16-speed ZF
Ecosplit manual box remains optional, however. Buyers also get the choice of straight or drop-beam front axles, depending on how much ground clearance is needed, vertical exhausts with a cyclone filter, flexible first cab steps to reduce grounding damage, and extra wheel-arch steps and roof grab handles too.

Naturally, the big question for 8-wheeler operators is ‘How much can it carry?‘ Back in 2015, DAF shaved 140kg off its 8-wheelers by tweaking the front suspension and anti-roll bar set-up and by offering alloy air tanks. It‘s now taken a further 250kg off its FAD 8×4 chassis mainly thanks to the new, more compact exhaust after-treatment system first seen on the tractors and single-circuit steering system. They also come with the option for lighter disc brakes on the rear bogie—drums remain the default fit. That means the Dutch can produce a righthand-drive 8×4 chassis cab of between 9.0 and 9.2-tonnes with fuel and a driver, which DAF Trucks Limited in the UK believes will be one of the lightest on the British market. Different exhaust system options also allow plenty of space for stabiliser legs for those operators speccing a front grab on a tipper too.

Pommie mixer men will definitely be interested in the lightweight CF 8×4 mixer chassis, based on the lighter MX-11-engined 4-axle FAD chassis with a disc-braked single-reduction tandem-bogie at the back, which is set up for 8m3 mixer barrels. Thanks to the compact exhaust emission system and the aforementioned vertical exhaust, the chassis has plenty of room too for a big water tank. DAF quotes a 9150kg tare for the FAD mixer chassis.

Further down the weight range the little LF—designed, developed and built by Paccar‘s Leyland Trucks plant in Lancashire—has also been revised. Paccar‘s 4.5-litre PX-5 and 6.7-litre PX-7 (based on Cummins‘ ISB but with Paccar branding and DAF‘s engine software) have more power and also torque—typically 5 to 12% higher than before. At the same time, the LF‘s interior and exterior styling follow the changes made to New CF and XF. There‘s now a new 7.5-tonne LF City chassis powered by the 3.8-litre PACCAR PX-4 engine rated at 156 and 172hp. DAF Trucks Limited says it‘s in response to customer demand for a no-frills urban model with a smaller engine. The PX-4‘s good thermal management has also reduced the amount of particulate trap regeneration required, which can occur where trucks are engaged in frequent stop-start delivery work.

The no-frills spec means day cab only, a 5-speed manual box (still popular with UK operators looking for a ‘jump-in-and-go‘ city truck) and a choice of factory-fitted box and curtainsider bodies. The manual gearbox choice is interesting as it mean there will be no LF City ‘Silent‘ 72dB(A) version, as one of the prerequisites of the Silent variant is an auto box which limits engine revs and gear-change points. More importantly what makes LF City significant is that it gives DAF a more direct competitor to Japanese 7.5-tonners from Fuso and Isuzu, which have gained an advantage over European rivals thanks to their lower weight, smaller cabs, simpler spec and lower prices.

Driving the new multi-wheelers and LF City

Interest in Tridems continues to grow in the UK, and we recently tried out an MX-11 powered CF450 FAQ 8×2 Tridem grossing 30 tonnes in a recent ride-and-drive in Spain.

Thanks to the excellent vision provided by its low-mounted day cab (helped by well-positioned mirrors) you can easily spot cyclists and pedestrians, making the CF FAQ an ideal town truck. It has an excellent turning circle meaning it can tackle sharp turns and roundabouts with ease, and certainly without the big bites you‘d normally need to take corners with a regular 8-wheeler. The only thing you‘d need to watch out for is the swing-out when you‘ve got the rear axle raised.

The latest 450hp MX-11 is very torquey (not surprising with 2300Nm on tap) and well matched to the TraXon box, which is quick shifting and quick thinking. AS Tronic was good. TraXon is better.

We next tried a ‘regular‘ FAD 8×4 tipper, with a typically continental spec of MX-13 engine rated at 480hp 2,500Nm of torque and steel-sprung hub reduction axles, loaded to the UK 32-tonne limit. Rather than follow the same route as the FAQ, we took to some local Spanish back roads through the hills. On switchback single carriageways the FAD was reassuringly surefooted, with good steering and ride comfort. DAF‘s latest engine brake, which now operates via a single exhaust valve in each cylinder for even greater back-pressure, delivers superb retardation when you need it, always leaving the service brakes fresh.

In combination with TraXon it‘s a great asset in hilly terrain. We also got the chance to try out the optional off-road software, operated by a simple dash-mounted switch, which delivers super-fast shifts, holding on to gears longer to allow the revs to build up and taking gears one at a time, rather than trying to block-shift in a normal economy mode.

Finally, we took to the streets of Barcelona in the box- bodied 150hp LF City loaded to seven tonnes. It‘s quite rare nowadays to find a test truck without a two-pedal auto, so a manual stirrer was something of a trip down memory lane. The 5-speed Eaton was a bit stiff but its shift pattern is well defined and we‘d expect it to loosen-up in time.

The PX-4‘s 150hp is plenty for town work, and we liked the optional exhaust brake that can be set up to work when you lift off the throttle pedal. Good for washing off speed approaching lights and junctions. The LF City‘s day cab is hard to fault. We certainly appreciated the optional ‘Vision‘ door with the extra lower glass in the passenger side—and the fact that the top window can still be opened laterally, and above all else electrically, via the usual driver switch on the dash. Overall it‘s a good little urban warrior.