Small badge big boost

In June 2023, Scania, Aussie Angles13 MinutesBy Howard ShanksJuly 26, 2023

Scania’s latest V8-powered R660 boasts 660hp and 3300Nm of torque, and its new quick-shifting G33-CM transmission offers 14 forward and eight reverse gears. It all combines to provide greater retardation, improved fuel economy and a tenacious appetite for hauling freight.

The personalised 660HP number plate made finding the R660 in the row of trucks parked at the rear of Scania’s Laverton, Victoria, dealership easy.

Scania’s Jarrod Hegarty is on hand to provide insight into how to get the best from it.

“We’ve loaded up this B-double set of Freighter trailers to give us a gross weight of 61.5 tonnes,” Jarrod explains as he touches a button on the key fob to activate the lighting test sequence. “This has to be one of the best features added to modern trucks.”

Jarrod’s keen to have the new R660 demonstrate its steadfast appetite for effortlessly hauling big weights. Unsurprisingly, his test route includes typical interstate terrain and urban congestion, similar to the real-world duties this truck would experience in a typical fleet. Still, he includes a test run up the infamous Pentland Hills on the Western Highway just for good measure.

Earlier in the morning, I’d noticed a poster on the spare parts counter in the dealership advertising driver information for the new Scania trucks by following the links on the QR codes for Apple or Google apps. So I scanned the QR code and downloaded the iPhone app. It then asked for the chassis number, which I typed in, and moments later, I had the full operator’s handbook and quick guide at my fingertips. After a cursory glance over the quick guide, I was comfortable that I had enough knowledge of the new vehicle to get the show on the road.

Pleasingly, the R660 is in a factory-painted blue livery, not stock-truck white. Yet it is still relatively conservative in its appearance; there is no over-the-top bling and only the factory-fitted badge tells you it’s an R660.

Inside, the cab is precisely what you’d expect in a top-of-the-range V8. Leather seats, steering wheel and the iconic V8 logo here and there. But other than that, the interior is essentially the same as previous New Gen Scania trucks. Nevertheless, I still rate Scania cabins as among the best on the market: they exude quality and are, by and large, well laid out and functional. That said, others are catching up and, in some cases, possibly overtaking them. But more on that another time.

Not much has changed inside, but not much needs to.

Luckily, pulling the loaded B-double out of the dealership onto Boundary Road is effortless today, thanks to a significant break in the traffic. But almost immediately, we are on one of the city’s most challenging roads. The dual lanes of Boundary Road and the subsequent meanderings around Laverton onto the Western Freeway are exceptionally busy, and there is little time to familiarise yourself with the finer workings of the new R660. As a result, it is the opposite of a nice smooth drive through the country.

The condition of the road is also found wanting in many areas, with an inferior top surface and potholes that could double for water storage dams. The Western Freeway is one of Victoria’s busiest freight routes, yet it is not an ideal trucking road, thanks to its poor state of repair. Nevertheless, the inclusion of the front air suspension certainly irons out many of the sharper potholes that would have rattled right through to the bone with a traditional steel spring front end. Handling-wise, the Scania steering system now incorporates a raft of electronic wizardry that works a treat on the rough, uneven road surface.

Jarrod explains that along with the new 660 power setting in the V8, the most significant advance in operational terms is from the widened ratio spread of the new 14-speed G33-CM transmission – from the crawler ratio of 20.8:1 to a top overdrive gear of 0.777:1.

“The wider ratio spread, coupled with slightly wider gears, handles the increased load better and longer,” Jarrod says. “Now we can run high gross weight applications with the flexibility to utilise taller rear-axle ratios while maintaining deep gearing to facilitate smooth lift-off and deliver optimum efficiency.

“Furthermore, with the G33-CM, we’ve included an abundance of newly developed and clever power take-off (PTO) solutions to satisfy any number of advanced PTO needs.”

The new dash displays slightly different transmission gears that commence with ‘C’ for the crawler, followed by the ratios to 12th (direct drive), then ‘OD’ for overdrive.

More importantly is the substantial improvement in retardation performance. The G33-CM transmission now contributes 4700Nm of auxiliary braking compared with 4100Nm from the previous transmission. Indeed, the additional retardation is a significant gain that, soon enough, highlights exceptional downhill speed control through the Pentland Hills.

The final drive ratio of 3.07:1 might be considered a tall ratio for a B-double spec truck. Still, Scania has done its homework and is confident it’s got the balance right, thanks in no small part to the new transmission ratios and shear torque of the new 660hp V8.

Once out of the urban traffic congestion, getting the R660 to stretch its legs didn’t take much. This truck has all the bells and whistles to make life behind the wheel simple. Set the adaptive cruise control and downhill speed control, then sit back and let the Scania do all the hard work.

The engine develops a peak power of 485kW (660hp) at 1900rpm and produces a remarkable torque peak of 3300Nm (2434lb/ft), between 950 and 1400rpm. Yet it’s where the power and torque curves overlap at around 1350rpm that a distinct appreciation for this V8’s gallant strength and tenacity emerges. Where these two lines intersect in the rev range of this 16-litre V8 engine, approximately 640hp is produced while the engine still pushes out maximum torque. Consequently, this extreme pulling power at relatively low engine speeds results in an exceptional economy with high average road speeds.

A boost in power with refined delivery from the V8 combines with an enhanced 14-speed transmission to make one impressive drivetrain.

The transmission has three modes – eco, standard and power. I select ‘standard’ mode, which provides good acceleration from traffic lights and enables the R660 and its fully loaded B-double to keep up with traffic easily.

On the Western Freeway, the R660 strutted its stuff in style. I set the cruise control to 100km/h and the tacho indicates the V8 is ticking over around the 1200 mark in ‘OD’. But as we approach the Pentland Hills, the V8 bites hard as the climb intensifies, the engine revs lower and once down to 1000rpm, the G33-CM transmission swaps effortlessly back into 12th gear. A slower vehicle up ahead means I need to lift off the throttle, and as the revs slowly lower again, the transmission seamlessly drops back another gear.

Thankfully, the right-hand lane clears. I press the button on the end of the gearstick wand to engage ‘power’ mode, indicate to the right and squeeze down hard on the throttle. The big 16-litre engine responds instantly, the transmission hanging onto 12th gear as the needle on the rev counter spins around to 1950rpm. Once I pass the slower truck, I tap the button on the end of the gear stick again to shift the mode back to ‘normal’ to maximise fuel economy.

On the descents, the downhill speed limiter works a treat to keep the R660 at the set 100km/h without any over-speeds. The system is clever enough to turn on the fan to add to the braking effect as well as apply the retarder.

Another feature worthy of mention is the ‘hold’ function, which activates once the vehicle is stationary and the brake pedal is pressed down towards the floor. A green light illuminates on the dash to indicate the active function and holds the truck until the accelerator gets pressed and the truck drives away.

From a driver’s point of view, there is a lot to like about the new R660, including extra-wide sleeper cabins. The slick changes of the G33-CM are impressive, and, likewise, the power of the 660hp V8 doesn’t disappoint.

Scania has put much thought into how trucking businesses run, compliance and asset valuation. For instance, an R660 can be purchased with full-service maintenance contracts, giving operators known fixed maintenance and operating costs for the purchase term. A maintenance contract also means repair and maintenance compliance responsibility is taken care of by Scania. As a result, a Scania truck on a full-service maintenance contract attracts higher resale value than one that’s not and is sought after by prospective used-truck buyers.

Overall, the R660 is a truck packed with functionality. It’s very drivable and supported by competitive maintenance contracts, making it a model we’re sure we’ll see more of on our highways as time passes.


Engine: Scania DC16 660 16-litre V8 E6
Power: 485kW (660hp) @1900rpm
Torque: 3300Nm (2434lb/ft) @ 950-1400rpm
Gearbox: Scania G33CM1 14-speed overdrive, Opticruise shift
Retarder: Scania R4700D
Front axle: Scania AM64S
Front suspension: Scania air
Rear axles: Scania AD200SA axle housings
Rear axle ratio: 3.07:1 with diff locks to both axles
Rear suspension: Scania air
Wheelbase: 3150mm
Brakes: Scania electronically controlled disc brakes
Additional Safety: EBS with integrated ABS and traction control
Tyres: Bridgestone 295/80 R22.5