BUYERS GUIDE - HEAVY DUTY
Iveco is one of the world’s largest producers of off road vehicles, for civilian and military customers. The Eurocargo 4×4 is an all-terrain development of the 4×2 road-oriented medium truck range.
The Eurocargo 4×4 is one of the extensive Iveco family of off-road vehicles. In the Australian off-road truck market Japanese brands – Isuzu, Fuso and Hino – dominate, thanks to their legendary reliability and extensive dealer networks, but not even those who sell these excellent machines claim that they’re the most comfortable machines in their class.
Japanese light and medium 4×4 trucks have simplicity on their side, but ride quality for drivers and crews leaves a lot to be desired.
Traditionally, European trucks have had ride quality that’s superior to Japanese and North American trucks and that situation is true of European off-road trucks as well.
Another big plus for European vehicles in the 10-15-tonnes GVM class is that they’re designed to be fitted with wide-single tyres, in addition to singles up front and duals at the rear. Japanese brands don’t have factory-approved single tyre options – even in the 4.5-6 tonnes GVM class.
Buyers who want payload above off-road ability don’t mind the off-road compromises of narrow front tyres and duals at the rear, and that category includes virtually all bush-fire-fighting authorities. Most fire appliances in the 10-15 tonnes class don’t go seriously off-road these days.
However, many 4×4 truck buyers do go off-road and there are off-road applications where it’s most desirable to have the same front and rear axle track dimension and same-sized tyre contact patches, even if that means sacrificing some payload.
Another huge advantage that European 4×4 trucks have over the Japanese brands is standard differential locks.
A great fit
The Iveco Eurocargo 4×4’s dimensions, single-tyre option, tare weight and GVM rating suit it ideally to the Australian off-road truck scene. In theory it’s a 15-tonnes-GVM machine, but Australian legal gross mass limits restrict the rear axle to nine tonnes. (In Europe, that axle can carry one tonne more.)
Combined with a factory limit of 5.7 tonnes on the front axle that gives a Eurocargo 4×4, fitted with dual rear tyres, a legal GVM in Australia of 14.7 tonnes.
Option that truck with four 395/80R22.5 single tyres and the rear axle legal mass drops to 6.7 tonnes, so the GVM is 12.4 tonnes: 2.3 tonnes less than with duals. On the plus side is much better off-road ability, thanks in part to almost double the front tyre contact area and similar ground pressures, front and rear.
With a tare weight of six tonnes the Eurocargo 4×4 has a payload capacity between six and 8.7 tonnes.
With Australia’s restrictive legal axle weights the Eurocargo 4×4 makes more sense for most applications than its bigger brother, the Trakker 4×4. The Trakker has an eight-tonnes-rated front axle and a 13-tonne-rated rear, for a total GVM of 18 tonnes, but on Australian roads can carry only 15.5 tonnes legally, for a payload of eight tonnes.
The Trakker makes much more sense as a 6×6, with a rated GVM of 33 tonnes – legally 23 tonnes in Australia – for a payload around 22 tonnes.
Both Trakker models have single front tyres and duals on the rear axle(s), so they’re not as nimble off-road as the single-tyred Eurocargo 4×4.
Ability and performance
The Eurocargo range is powered by an Iveco Tector 5.9-litre diesel six, with common-rail injection and SCR (AdBlue) emissions kit. This engine bears more than a passing resemblance to the Cummins B-series engine, which is built in Turin for European customers.
Outputs are claimed figures of 205kW (279hp) at 2700rpm and 950Nm in the 1250-2100rpm band.
Torque passes through an hydraulically-assisted, single-plate clutch to a ZF 6S-1000 synchronised, six-speed manual transmission. Behind that is an Iveco two-speed transfer case, with ratios of 0.99:1 and 1.94:1.
The transfer case is a torque-proportioning design, which splits drive 33-percent front and 67-percent rear. However, an integrated differential lock ties that split to a 50:50 ratio.
Propshafts run to hub-reduction axles front and rear, with final drive ratios of 5.72:1. Across-axle differential locks are standard equipment.
Although Eurocargo 4×2 models have air-operated all-disc brakes the 4×4 models revert to more durable drums, with ABS6 control and spring parking brakes on their rear axles.
Similarly, although the road-going models have taper-leaf springs the 4x4s have conventional multi-leaves.
On and off road
Our test ‘pilot’ for the Iveco Eurocargo 4×4 is none other than motorcycle race star, Daryl Beattie. ‘Daz’ runs a successful off-road-motorcycle tour operation in Outback Australia, for which he needs a support truck.
Daz’s first support truck was an ex-Australian Army Unimog, but he soon found that it was expensive to operate and had on-road cruising speed limitations.
An overdrive box, pioneered by Bathurst racing legend Larry Perkins, solved the highway cruising speed issues, but Daz still wanted more payload and better trailer-towing ability.
Daz and OTA had many discussions about the possible options and he soon dismissed the Japanese trio on the bases of their dual rear wheels, skinny front tyres, lack of diff locks and harsh ride.
After checking out other market offerings Daz settled on an Iveco Eurocargo ML150 4×4, running on wide-single tyres. This truck provided ride comfort for his regular driver, ‘Scooter’, off-road ability to travel demanding tracks, including the Canning Stock Route, good on-highway performance and economy, and ample trailer-towing ability.
“The Eurocargo 4×4 is widely used for emergency service work in Europe and increasingly so in Australia,” Daryl Beattie said.
Daz was also impressed by Iveco’s Dakar Rally performances:
“I’ve followed Dakar for a number of years and the Ivecos always perform strongly.
“I know that my Eurocargo 4×4 isn’t a full-blown Dakar racer, but I know from personal experience that the lessons of competition do make their way into production vehicles.”
Another plus for the Iveco was having access to finance via Iveco’s in-house financier, CNH Industrial Capital.
“I financed the fully built-up vehicle through CNH Industrial Capital, including the considerable cost of customised bodywork, which was definitely too much to pay up-front for a small business.”
Specialist expedition body builder, Unidan Engineering, produced what it reckons is the ultimate support truck.
The bodywork has steel framing, overlaid with impact-resistant, composite skin and rounded-edge aluminium trimming. Access to the interior is via three gull-wing doors and a movable staircase.
On board is a 1400-litre polyethylene water tank; four 110-litre Waeco fridge/freezers; a storage area with room for two Honda Africa Twin bikes; storage for bags, bedding and supplies for 12 riders and the truck driver.
There is also a charging station for riders’ phones, cameras, laptops and other devices that’s able to provide both 12-volt and 240V power.
The truck is also fitted with an Air CTI tyre pressure management system for easy deflation and pressuring of tyres on the run; a Spitz lift crane; 8500kg rear winch; a second winch to load and unload motorcycles; 3000-watt inverter; custom BBQ box with slide-out drawer and stainless steel bench and heavy duty gas bottle holders.
To ensure that every rider has a hot shower every day the truck has a Waeco diesel hot water system and outdoor shower. Camp lighting is done by Narva interior and exterior LED units.
Daryl said the Eurocargo 4×4 gave him a blank canvas on which to draw an exceptionally capable, fit-for-purpose truck:
“Our previous vehicle was somewhat of a compromise but with the Eurocargo there were no compromises made: we’ve used the best of everything.
“The truck’s role on our tours is vital: those big wheels need to keep turning or the tour stops and we’re left with a group of disgruntled customers, but I’m confident that the truck will do everything asked of it,” Daryl said.