Italian stallion 06 January 2014

'Perfect in every situation' is Iveco's slogan for its long-awaited new Eurocargo Euro 6. Brian Tinham reports from its launch event at the Italian Embassy in London

When a truck is launched in three European cities (London, Berlin and Madrid) simultaneously, you know its developers believe they have something to shout about. When the venues are the Italian Embassies in each, it can only be Iveco. And so it was last month that Eurocargo Euro 6 was unveiled, with all the pizzazz you might expect.

And quite right, too. Eurocargo – albeit by other names and originally manufactured by OM, of Brescia, Italy – is something of a legend in the middleweight sector, tracing its antecedents back to 1959 and the Lupetto. That was followed by the Gamma Z, in 1977, and OM's turbo-powered TurboZeta, in 1987. Admittedly, the Eurocargo name didn't dawn until 1991 (since when over half a million units have been sold), but who's splitting hairs? That model was crowned International Truck of the Year in 1992 and UK Fleet Truck of the Year in 1994. 1999 saw the launch of Eurocargo EL, for urban distribution (lower cab, lighter chassis and smaller wheels), and the new Tector engine arrived in 2001. Then came Euro 4 and 5 models, followed by New Eurocargo in 2008.

So what of this latest iteration? Iveco justifies its slogan by insisting that Eurocargo Euro 6 – built in Brescia, of course – has been designed to offer the most extensive range yet. That's all the way from six to 19 tonnes, with pretty every conceivable permutation. 11,000 of them, starting with two new Euro 6 FPT engines: the 4.5 litre, four-cylinder Tector 5, available at 160, 190 and 210bhp; and the 6.7 litre, six-cylinder Tector 7, offered in 220, 250, 280 and 320bhp versions (replacing Tector 4 and 6).

Note the extended power (and torque: 750Nm at 1,400—1,800 rpm and 1,100Nm at 1,250—1,900 rpm, respectively), due to the increased displacements and the use of 'second-generation', multiple-injection common rail technology operating at up to 1,600bar. The message: versatility is in this truck's DNA.

What's more, all those units harness FPT's patented HI-eSCR (high-efficiency selective catalytic reduction) aftertreatment technology, claimed by redoubtable Iveco product director Martin Flach to tackle proscribed emissions "without compromising the combustion process [no exhaust gas recirculation], without an auxiliary cooling system, without an active DPF [diesel particulate filter] and without any weight penalty".

What does that mean in terms of operational costs? Flach claims that, while for Eurocargos carrying out varied work, fuel costs (combined diesel and AdBlue) are likely to remain unchanged, when it comes to inter-urban work, operators can expect "a 2% reduction". And he adds that, operators of the existing six-cylinder 220bhp Tector 6 may now consider the four-cylinder Tector 5 210bhp at Euro 6, yielding a 4.5% fuel advantage, like for like.

What of the rest of the powertrain? Flach first explains that an engine brake is now standard, (managed by an electronically-controlled butterfly valve), generating 100 and 150kW (Tector 5 and 7). But, there's also a greater choice of gearboxes: six ZF manuals (five-, six- and nine-speed); four Eurotronic ZF AMTs (automated manual transmissions) as six- and 12-speed; and three Allison fully automatic, torque converter units, all with five gears.

This is Iveco putting its money where its mouth is. Note, for example, the new 12-speed ZF 1,100Nm capacity auto, for Tector 7-engined trucks, from 12 to 19 tonnes, and tow trucks. Now that is a drivetrain man enough for heavier loads. And there are PTOs to match.

As for the rest, engineered-in flexibility continues – evident, for example, in everything from its suspension choices (reinforced parabolic, semi-elliptical and pneumatic, as well as full air (two- or four-bag) with ECAS – electronically-controlled air suspension) to the robust steel 'C' section side structure, which enables body lengths from 4,265 to 10,175mm. It's a similar story with the 52-degree steering angle and reduced turning circle (less than 11 metres on the 2,790 mm wheelbase version), which should handle just about any manoeuvrability issues.

And the designers appear to have thought of everything internally, too, with a new dash layout, new seats and a range of cabs, from day, to sleeper to double cabin – and two cab heights. Indeed, Iveco argues that this truck will be every bit as at home in temperature-controlled distribution as it is in construction, refuse collection, municipal service and emergency support vehicle work.

So there you have it: it's hard to argue with Iveco's massive range claim when this truck comes offering 14 weights, seven power ratings, 13 transmissions, 15 wheelbases (2,790 to 6,570 mm), three cab types and 4x2 and 4x4 drives (the latter with extra protection). This is more than an all-round workhorse: it's an Italian stallion. And, if it lives up to the claims, this truck will elevate the Iveco marque in the middleweight transport sector to match its new-found standing in the heavies.

The bottom line
Iveco's new Eurocargo Euro 6 will cost you an extra £4,000, plus or minus £1,000, than the outgoing Euro 5 model – pretty much in line with the other major OEMs' likely price lists. However, product director Martin Flach suggests that residuals, fuel consumption and maintenance will help compensate – particularly if the authorities introduce more restrictive LEZs (low emission zones).

Of course, there are choices, the main big-volume challenger being DAF's LF. However, they're all in there; MAN's TGS, TGM and TGL; Mercedes Axor and Atego; Renault's new D (distribution) range; Scania P and G; and Volvo FE and FL. Selecting the right truck is always all about the detail, but Iveco should expect to see its rankings improve.

Indeed, Flach predicts Eurocargo Euro 6 to sell more than 2,000 units in the UK in its first year, led by 7.5 tonners and tucks in the 7.5—16 tonne bracket, with the vast majority going to retail operators. If it does, that will mean growth of 26%. That's not unreasonable, given SMMT (Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders) statistics, which suggest that Iveco's share of the 7.5—18 tonne market rose from 10.9% in 2012 to 12.9% last year – with November (the last month for which figures were available as we went to press) indicating 18.3%.

February sees Eurocargo Euro 6 series production ramping up in Brescia and first demonstrator vehicles are already in the UK.

Brian Tinham

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