S-way’s on track Aussie drive’s a tantalising teaser

In May 2023, Aussie Angles11 MinutesBy Dave McCoidJune 19, 2023

A quick jaunt over the Tasman to attend Iveco’s S-Way journo drive day in Victoria was well worth it. A test-track drive it might have been, but it was finally a chance to get behind the wheel of a truck we’ve been eagerly awaiting.

Travelling through Europe, you see trucks you wish we had, just because it would help even the playing field for Europe’s big seven down under (six, in our case).

S-Way gives Iveco the presence that Stralis never could, that X-Way helped immeasurably to achieve. X-Way was a big, tall, great-looking truck, but one you always knew wasn’t the end game – there was a big, tall, great-looking, even better truck, far, far away. Now it’s here.

If nothing else, S-Way will make the truck-buying decision that much harder if you’re looking for a 9L, 11L, or 13L Euro, which is great. Variation, choice, and competition mean better and better products.

It’s also good news for brand loyalists. Attracting staff to reliable yet humble wagons is a tougher gig than reliable, handsome wagons. The same goes for sales folk. In fact, a great-looking product with a presence will influence the mood all the way down the chain.

In the words of Michael May, managing director for Iveco in the region: “Now we’re aligned with the latest product.”

Nothing wrong with spending a few laps – or even day – in here.

Blast off
At the Australian Automotive Research Centre test track in Anglesea, Victoria, journos from the Anzac nations were given a sneaky old pre-launch play of Iveco’s new baby. The official Australian release will, of course, be at the Brisbane Truck Show in May.

There’s no doubt that S-Way’s a good-looking jigger. Ancient towns and villages, narrow laneways, and the population contribute to strict VDAM rules in Europe, curtailing the ability for OEM cab designers to go feral on the external look. This tends to result in a similar design flavour throughout the big seven offerings. Open the door, however, and that all changes. It’s where they can really do their thing, and do it Iveco certainly does. S-Way retains that pleasant surprise that even Stralis gave us.

I had two S-Way drives at AARC. Sadly, I couldn’t get stuck into the downhill winding grade as there had been some new gravel spread on it and a couple of the guests – and even one of the chaperone drivers – enjoyed ‘interesting’ moments on it. Suffice it to say, the ‘ufficiale’ powers that be pulled the pin on that section, leaving the big road loop as our playground.

Running gear-wise, S-Way takes the existing 9L, 11L, and 13L Cursor units with Hi-Tronix (ZF TraXon) AMT transmissions, Meritor rear axles, and four-bag ECAS rear suspensions (plus a mechanical option on the 6×4 rigid).

“The 9L, 11L, and 13L segments are where we intend to focus our efforts moving forward,” said May.

Anyone who still wakes screaming at night over early EGR motors will no doubt look favourably on Iveco achieving Euro-6 Step-e without a single recirculated exhaust gas molecule in sight. Its HI-eSCR technology is the key: a single treatment system featuring passive DPF, in which regeneration occurs at lower temperatures and doesn’t require driver intervention.

Michael May: “We’re aligned with the latest product.” Photo: Iveco.

I had a play in a high-roof sleeper (AT – Active Time cab) regional distribution tractor and semi, sporting the 11L Cursor 11 at 338kW (460hp) and 2150Nm (1590lb/ft), with the Hi-Tronix 12-speed 12TX2420 TD AMT aft. That, I have to say, was a crisp, glorious truck to drive. You know the sort of trucks? The ones you walk away from happier than you did walking towards them. That’s no slight on the truck, rather their perceived role being one out of the limelight, yet they fulfil their role like a mechanical cheerleader. I was a quarter the way around the track and said to Guy, my chaperone, “This is neat. I could happily spend a morning delivering groceries to supermarkets in this.” It was peppy, steered on point, and the six-stage exhaust brake/retarder ‘woooed’ up the show superbly.

Onto the big boy: The S-Way 410kW (550hp), 2500Nm (1850lb/ft) with Cursor 13L motivation and 16-speed Hi-Tronix 16TX2640TD AMT. Yes, folks, you read it right, we’ve done it again. Sometimes being cold has its advantages, and S-Way’s peak output in the big, dry, red thing to our West is 550hp, while we get the 425kW 570. Booo-yah!

Sporting the big AS (Active Space) cab, I had an Aussie B-double on the pin at 26m and 55-tonne GCM. Press D on the dash and Hi-Tronix picks third to get going. Off with the anchors, ease onto the throttle, and S-Way marched off down the road, accelerating with little effort up to 70km/h before the track swung left about 400m or 500m from the start. The gear changes were silky smooth, and the truck beautifully serene inside.

With the big trolleys and short tractors, Aussie B-doubles are more fidgety than ours by a margin. In many ways, we’re a more refined and well-balanced lot.

The driving ‘posse’ was great, and the S-Way was easy to see out of. The mirrors were on point, and I was immediately at ease placing the big Italian in the lane. Controls were all readily to hand, although I’ll be keen to get back to one at home for a more detailed look, as the stalks appeared a little lightweight.

The regional distribution tractor sporting the 11L motor was fun-as to drive. It’s a happy truck, that’s for sure.

I love a good wrap, and Iveco does a good big wrap. It’s a real cockpit. Room in the cab is plentiful. There are all the mod cons – a bigger fridge… and freezer, nice bunks, plenty of storage. I can’t be absolutely sure – I’ll find out when we get our teeth into one properly here – but I think the fold-out, Italian cafe-style table is gone. I’ll be gutted if it has.

Even with the extra displacement, the auxiliary brakes worked harder to slow progress at the end of the undulating back straightaway compared with the regional tractor but were more than acceptable nonetheless. No surprises there, really.

S-Way has all the modern 2023 productivity and safety accoutrements – adaptive cruise, advanced emergency braking, brake assistance, lane departure, electronic stability programmes, anti-slip regulation, hill hold… And in keeping with the 2023 vein, there are also driver evaluation and attention monitoring. Then there are other nice-to-haves – like snazzy A-pillar aero enhancers that help keep glass clean. Head of aftersales in Australia, Margaret Baker, told those gathered that a new telematics monitoring unit had been established to keep an eye on trucks in both countries.

Impressions? S-Way is going to liven the 13L market here no end. As is often the case in modern trucks, a sublime marriage between engine and transmission allows a level of performance beyond what you would expect from looking at the pure numbers on paper. In our first snapshot, brief as it was, S-Way was most certainly ‘Smooth- Way’.

In Aussie, big distances and heavier B-Double train weights make life harder for the 13L outside regional/intrastate tasks, but not so here. There’s so much about this truck to like; it’s a truck able to get in the 13L ring and duke it out.

Of course, the key is going to be after-sales and support. It’s the thing on which every truck that’s ever been made, and every truck that ever will be made, lives and dies. Iveco has a truck here it can love. One it can love to sell and one it can love to support.

The mothership has given it the tool, it’s up to Iveco NZ to do it proud.