Welcome to the new 20-year club…house

In Test Short story9 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 17, 2018

Grant Reid won‘t be the only person buying the T610 with a double-decade outlook; such is the reputation its predecessors have forged. The base cab was a $US400m development spend at PACCAR and the Australian variant came at a further $A20m R&D. It made sense to tap into any synergies between the two continents at the outset of the Australasian project, and there was certainly a lot of interaction between Bayswater and Mt Vernon R&D in Seattle. But in all reality the US‘s spazzy dimensions laws and Australia‘s spazzy outback will always mean a straight transplant is unlikely. For those reasons, Australian engineers will go for your throat if you say, “Oh yeah. It‘s the T680 cab.” Although assembled in the US the dimensions around the firewall and floor are poles apart, not to mention the robustness of the antipodean stamped, riveted, and glued shed. In short, you absolutely won‘t be able to use the T680 cab you‘ve bought on eBay to replace the dinged T610. Now we‘ve established that, let‘s look at what it does bring home from Seattle. The T610 is an extra 300mm wider at the B pillar than the cab it replaces in the current line-up, and it has 30% more footwell space. As we said, it‘s instantly apparent. The positioning and rake on the A pillar contributes so much to the increased fore and aft space also. Len remarked how much more room there was compared with the Fuso he was driving. Remember people, this is a Kenworth day cab…but you can literally see the space it has.

Photos: The dash is clear, with a combination of gauges and a modern operational metrics interface on the central binnacle. Recessed gauge inlays are a pain when it comes to the Saturday cab clean.

Visibility is superb. The snout rakes away (again, think T600A memory lane) and the huge single-piece screen offers a remarkable vista. The aerodynamic mirrors – with arms you can do chin-ups on evidently – are mounted low and forward, and that, in conjunction with the A pillar design, makes clearing left and right at intersections first rate.

Inside it‘s most definitely Kenworth but there‘s been a clever step away from ‘bloke‘ to ‘sensitive new age guy‘. It‘s still a gauge festival (thumbs up from us), although there are now screens for truck metrics in the central binnacle, and space for a communications/navigation/ entertainment interface on the wrap if that‘s your gig. A big knob on the lower left scrolls you through your metrics screen. Operationally the central binnacle houses the gauges you need most, while the wrap has the second glance brigade. There‘s a smart wheel with cruise and audio only (we can live with that). Switches are big plastic toggles, mainly lined up in a row along the bottom of the wrap. They‘re easy to find and use. According to the spiel the dash took three years to design. Interesting, considering one major irk, that being the recessed gauges with a horrible little moat around them.

Photo: The bulk of the switchgear in a nice tidy line.

It‘s easy to look at a Legend and guffaw with disdain at past efforts in cab design, but when you‘ve spent 70 hours driving it and you‘re there on Saturday morning to clean it, you don‘t want to be hooking dust out from around a gauge recess with the corner of a rag or cotton bud. What was wrong with bezels against a flat dash? Spray, wipe, gone! On the plus side dash-wise, it‘s screwed into place, making access in behind a whole lot easier. Now that‘s proper Kenworth philosophy. There‘s enough woodgrain and red-buttoned vinyl to satisfy traditionalists and there‘s storage above the screen, in the doors, and on the rear of the cab wall, with other incidental cubbies and cup holders around and about. Pretty good for a day cab Kenworth really. Access-wise it‘s a whole new world. The door opens wide enough to get the biggest bopper in with a takehome bucket in hand, no trouble. The steps and grab handles are beautiful. The top step is part of the cab structure and sticks out so that you‘re fully supported on your feet and able to just walk into position. There‘s no need to swing off the tiller.

Photos: Daily engine checks are a breeze. Anything more, not so much.

Once in, no one should be at a loss to find the perfect driving position. Len‘s a tall man and he has no trouble at all. Toko‘s a shade under 6‘ and he fits just fine also. They both looked comfy as. Kenworth‘s all-in-one indicator, wiper, and dip are on the left, and hand control for the trolley on the right. The 610 has an organ throttle and pendulum brake and clutch. It‘s a personal thing but our vote‘s for an organ brake because your heel‘s always grounded (if it‘s out and out cool you‘re after, then Pete‘s three organs is peerless – LOL).

Ride-wise the truck was fine, if not a fraction lively, probably on account of that forward cab location and 50% load factor. The cab is mounted on a front rubber and rear air and shock set-up. It‘s a typical sure-footed ‘bonneted‘ truck. Putting tongue in cheek you could argue only just though. If that cab was any further forward it might have been the K610. You can rarely fault steering, handling, and overall directional control in a truck of this genre, particularly one with a bug on the front. In our experience – both inside and outside of magazine work – they set the bar. Last and not least, noise. The T610 is certainly not the least noisy truck of this genre we‘ve been in.

Photos: The cab‘s 300mm forward compared with its distant kissing cousin in the US (T680). Entry is superb.

They‘ve retained that aspect of the Kenworth environment most definitely. It absolutely is not as quiet as the Satherley Legend, and most definitely not in the K200 league. Because we‘ve spent so much time in them over the years we think it‘s fine, but a few more melt sheets wouldn‘t go amiss in 2018. It‘s the second most impactful thing after space once you‘re aboard one. There was no chance the sound meter was going to see any reading that started with a ‘6‘. Mid and high 70s were the go. Toko had this to say which pretty much says it all… “I could listen to the sound of the Cummins X15 all day long; not too loud but not too quiet as well. I never get tired of listening to it; to me it is an important part of driving something like this, being able to hear what is going on.

“I cannot believe how comfortable it is, it is easily equal in comfort to the DAF CF85 I just came out of.”

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