Giti Tyres Big Test | New Tricks

 
 October 2020     Scania R 620 B8x4NA   Story Dave McLeod Photos Gerald Shacklock

Not a lot of people know this, but I’m a big fan of mangled proverbs. Like: “What doesn’t kill you, will make you hope you’d never been born.” And how about: “You can lead a horse to water….but a pencil must be lead.”

They’re a couple of gems I’ve picked up along the way, but it’s the plain, straightout version of another old saying – that one about teaching an old dog new tricks – that comes to mind during our latest Giti Big Test….of a new Rotorua Forest Haulage Scania R 620 B8x4NA truck and trailer unit.

Now I’m not saying for one moment that this Scania’s driver, Roger Cross, is long in the tooth….even though he has been trucking for over 40 years.

It’s just that, apparently, this new Scania is teaching this veteran driver new eco-driving skills. And, better still, it’s keeping score of how well he’s going! 

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It has been some time since I last drove a Scania – so long, in fact, that the last one had three footpedals. 

We catch up with Rotorua Forest Haulage’s R 620 nine-axle curtainsider unit in Auckland, after it’s delivered a load of timber from the Bay of Plenty.

First impressions are that it is a good looker: The Roadmaster body and trailer pop with some awesome livery on the curtains, tied into the RFH fleet colours on the cab and its Peterson lights gleaming as the sun rises.

A short ride with regular driver Roger Cross behind the wheel is valuable: He has owned and driven his own trucks and has been driving trucks for many years…and he also likes to use the technology that trucks like this have in them….which a lot of drivers seem to shy away from.

Even without any specific driver training on the technology, he clearly has got his head around it all and lets the truck “drive itself” through the Auckland morning rush-hour traffic, using the Scania’s adaptive cruise control. 

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Giti Tyres Big Test - New Tricks

Not a lot of people know this, but I’m a big fan of mangled proverbs. Like: “What doesn’t kill you, will make you hope you’d never been born.” And how about: “You can lead a horse to water….but a pencil must be lead.”
They’re a couple of gems I’ve picked up along the way, but it’s the plain, straightout version of another old saying – that one about teaching an old dog new tricks – that comes to mind during our latest Giti Big Test….of a new Rotorua Forest Haulage Scania R 620 B8x4NA truck and trailer unit.
Now I’m not saying for one moment that this Scania’s driver, Roger Cross, is long in the tooth….even though he has been trucking for over 40 years.
It’s just that, apparently, this new Scania is teaching this veteran driver new eco-driving skills. And, better still, it’s keeping score of how well he’s going! 
I catch up with Roger at Claymark Industries in Henderson, West Auckland, where his Scania and its Roadmaster five-axle curtainsider trailer are getting loaded with finger-jointed timber, destined for Rotorua.
According to Roger, this is one of 10 RFH trucks dedicated to carting timber for Claymark: “Different plants do different things, so I’ve carted filleted timber all over the Bay of Plenty, Whanganui, Levin, Napier areas” – first in a Kenworth K200 truck and trailer unit and, for the past few months, in the R 620.
The Scania wasn’t his choice (more on that later), but in a couple of months and 30,941 kilometres, it’s won him over: He reckons he couldn’t be happier with his new ride.
He explains: “I’m basically an efficient guy. Someone once said that I’m a lazy person – meaning that I try to find the easiest and quickest way to do something!
“And this truck suits me and this work perfectly: It’s the whole package – the power, the comfort and the electronics…and it’s got some great little tricks in it.”
The nine-axle curtainsider unit looks great in RFH’s green and ivory/white colours and the eyecatching NZ Forest Owners Association graphics on the curtains. 
The new Scania comes with a Euro 5 Scania DC16 115 620 16-litre V8 that’s good for 620 horsepower/456 kilowatts at 1800rpm, while its 3000 Newton metres/2213 lb ft of peak torque is available between 1000 and 1400rpm.
It has a Scania GRS0905R 14-speed overdrive transmission, with an integrated retarder and with Opticruise automated gearshifting. 
The power’s delivered to Scania AD400SA diffs on air suspension – with parabolic leaf springs on the AM420S front axles. 
The run ahead of us is a 230km trip down to another Claymark branch, in Rotorua. It’s going to be mostly motorway driving – without any really tough terrain to challenge the V8 – but it will at least give us the chance to delve into the heaps of high-tech tricks that this Scania has in its armoury.
You know how I mentioned I like a good saying? Well, it soon turns out that Roger, who looks like an old-school truckie, has plenty up his sleeve – and is quick to dish out some good sayings/pieces of advice based on his years of driving. Like: “Never piss-off a dispatcher or a forklift driver.” 
Speaking of forklifts….the truck and trailer unit is permitted to run at up to 54 tonnes-all-up, but today “for payload we’re at 25 tonnes, and we’re 45t all-up.”
The truck tares at 11,870kg and the Roadmaster trailer’s tare is 7400kg – with a deck that stretches out to 12.3 metres, accommodating two packets of 6.13m timber (the longest he carries).
“So we can load up to the maximum cube and maximum weight, which is not that common. The trailer I had before was an 11.8 and there were loads I couldn’t take.” 
The Roadmaster bodies are fitted with StrapNGo load restraint systems, which Roger reckons were adopted by RFH because some drivers were having trouble with sore shoulders from throwing chains over loads every day. Just quietly, he doesn’t think it’s necessary.
“I’ve never really had a problem with chains, and if I did I’d throw a strap over and drag a chain.”
He concedes that the StrapNGo is a good idea, but thinks it’s slower to use: “I could chain-up a lot faster, just using chains. Health and safety is what it all comes down to – and health and safety means time,” he reckons.
However the ratchets on the system are something he’s really keen on, since they tension downwards: “It’s a huge benefit, especially with a bad lower back like mine. The ones that push up take all your strength and they push down on your body. But with these ones you just lock down, drop your knees and away you go.”
With everything loaded and secure, we head south – Roger revealing a bit about his trucking life so far: Now 64, he’s been with RFH for over four years, but has been driving on and off all his life – holding his Class 5 licence for over 30 years.
He drove loggers for about 15 years, but was on tankers – carting flour, oil and milk – for a long period before starting this job….making the move because he’d had it with shiftwork: “I was never at home.”
Whereas the RFH job, initially driving a Kenworth K200 curtainsider unit, saw the truck based at Katikati – quite close to his home, just outside Tauranga.
He didn’t chase the drive in the new Scania – and, in fact, got no advance notice he was getting it. Not that he’s complaining: “I arrived at work on a Tuesday afternoon and the K200 I was driving was getting a service/CoF. 
“He (the boss) walks up to me and says ‘get your personal stuff out of there – I’m going to give you the new Scania.’ That’s the first that anyone knew who was getting it. It was a big surprise.”
He says that comparing the K200 and the R 620 is “like Venus and Mars in every way. The cockpit, the quiet, convenience, electronics – everything. It’s just a different class. 
“It’s like comparing a top-class Mercedes to a Holden: They do the same job, they get to the same place just as quick – but the K200 is a young man’s truck. Climbing up the ladder and walking sideways (to get in and out of the Kenworth) is a challenge….and it’s rough as hell to drive.”
Running empty, he adds, “you’d stand up at certain points when you’re on roads that you know, because otherwise it would throw you against the roof and then smash you down on the floor.” 
But the sad state of New Zealand’s highways is largely to blame for all of that, he stresses. And, happy as he is with the Scania’s ride, which includes air suspension under the CR17N (normal headroom) day rest cab and Bridgestone 275/70R 22.5s all around (mounted on Alcoa Dura-Bright alloy wheels), roads do still have an impact: “For something that rides so well, it still kicks you around a little bit – especially that second steer axle. 
“It’s not the truck’s fault though. It wouldn’t matter what you’re in. But it is 100 times better than the Kenworth. In saying that, the Kenworth loaded wasn’t really that bad…. Empty though it was horrible.” 
“I haven’t got a particularly good back and I was going in probably every two or three months having an epidural steroid injection…..and I haven’t had one since I’ve been in this. I don’t have any back pain whatsoever now so it’s obviously a lot better for me.”
Access to the cab is easy, with three wide, grated steps and grabhandles both sides.
Once inside, you find a steering column that’s “the usual” tilt and slide adjustable and a premium air suspension seat (in black velour) that Roger says “never bottoms out. I’m not sure how they do it. I know with Mercedes – and I assume it’s quite similar – they are electronically-controlled seats, so when it’s moving too fast it pumps the air into it to stop it going down too far.”
The Scania has an expansive windscreen and visibility looks good. The A-pillar is narrow and there’s a good gap between it and the mirrors.
Roger confirms it: “I don’t have any problems at places like roundabouts. It’s a conventional setup on both sides (both electrically adjusted) but with the passenger side, there’s a third close-proximity mirror pointing downwards.” 
The LED headlights are “excellent” on high beam – plus this truck has spotlights just below the windscreen “and there’s a couple up high, that light up the side of the road. It’s just like daylight – it really is.”
He says that even the ambient interior lighting is great, helping the driver’s eyes cope better with the headlights of oncoming traffic. By day, the roof skylight lets in extra daylight too.
There’s heaps of storage in the cab, including two overhead lockers, trays in the centre console, a couple of cup holders, a pullout drawer and fridge under the rear rest bench/bunk. And there’s plenty of USB ports.
On the move it’s a quiet environment, with no squeaks or rattles. In fact, about the loudest noise you can hear is the turbo whistle from the engine. That’s about it. 
Roger agrees: “This is noticeably quieter than the Kenworth. The only thing that could be better is that the Scania V8 has been rated as the nicest-sounding V8 in the world, so it would be great to hear that….just a little bit. In saying that, it may be a bit tiresome after a while.”
The lack of annoying noise in the cab is “indicative of the brand,” he reckons – his judgment based on this truck and a Scania 470 he drove years ago, “when I came back from my back injury. It had done 1.4 million kilometres and it didn’t have a rattle in it.”
The R 620’s cab finish is “really good” and ergonomically everything looks to be within arm’s reach of the driver. That includes a seven-inch infotainment screen next to the park brake and trailer brake. It incorporates a sound system that has Apple CarPlay and is “an awesome stereo – it just blows you away.”
There are fingertip controls on the steering wheel for the stereo, adaptive cruise control, hill hold and the digital dash display.
Roger reckons that the instrument cluster is very user friendly and can be set up exactly how you want it, by way of four zones to display whatever info you prefer.
He explains: “I’ve got live fuel use on one, which says that it’s done 48.1 litres per 100kms, ‘whole of life.’ And that’s 80% (of the time) carrying around 50-tonnes, so I think that’s actually pretty good – certainly better than the Kenworth. The AdBlue use is a hell of a lot less too. 
“I’ve got air tank levels on the second slot, radio on the third and the weight of the trailer on the last (which says it’s 25.7 tonnes). If I go into it a little bit further it tells me I’ve got 10.25 (tonnes) on the drivers.”
As we cruise along State Highway 1 in top gear, the V8 at 1200rpm, the speedo at 90km/h, it’s a great time to get back to some of those functions controlled by the buttons on the steering wheel. First of all, adaptive cruise control.
Volunteers Roger: “I find it better than cruise control. It’s awesome. When I drove up this morning, I basically drove all the way from Tauranga to Auckland, aside from the (Karangahake) Gorge, without touching the brake or accelerator – and maintained a good speed. 
“If you get behind the right truck, he just tows you the whole way. He’ll slow down for the corners as you would anyway, and pick up out of them too.”
He reckons that in reasonably open highway traffic he sets the following distance to about half of the maximum, but if he’s following a truck he sits reasonably close – say 50 metres. When cruising on the open road, with no-one around, he has it set on maximum distance. 
“I’m a steerer,” he reckons, adding: “It used to be a derogatory term if you called a driver a steerer, but nowadays, with this technology, if you use it all you’re just a steerer.” 
But, of course, “you are still in control though. When you’re in adaptive cruise control the brake pedal doesn’t fold up out of the way – it’s still there. So is the accelerator. You still have control if you need it. If you don’t need to, why do it yourself, that’s my thinking. It’s more relaxed like this.”
Then he happily points out that we’ve been in adaptive cruise mode since we came out of the Waterview Tunnel (on Auckland’s Southwestern Motorway) – and we’re now on the climb up the northern side of the Bombay Hills – 45k along the way.
At the top of the Bombays, Roger stops to top up the Scania’s 400-litre fuel tank and 70-litre AdBlue tank. Starting off again, the GRS0905R 14-speed overdrive transmission is in third. 
Roger reckons that in Eco mode the Opticruise automated shifting system will change up about 1200 revs. In Normal mode, that increases to about 1400 – and in Power mode it changes up at about 1700 to 1800rpm. Overall, he prefers to leave it in the Normal setting, reasoning that if he’s going up a hill the throttle pedal kickdown function puts it into Power mode anyway. 
Starting down the southern side of the Bombays he shows off another neat feature – Scania’s hill hold function: “You put your foot on the brake pedal just enough to activate the brake light and when you take your foot off the pedal, whatever speed you’re going it’ll hold that speed all the way down the hill – even if it needs to change down a gear. Or you can do it (select it) through the steering wheel – same thing.”
He uses the steering wheel selector button, setting it to 70km/h….and then, essentially, relaxes. The Scania holds itself back at 71km/h in top gear, with the revs at 1000, thanks to the gearbox retarder.
“If the hill was to steepen up, it would engage more of the retarder and maybe change down a gear or two,” Roger says.
With that, the hill does steepen and the system prompts the Opticruise to downshift to ninth gear – the revs jumping up to 1800rpm, as we hold 70km/h.
Roger reckons that “the only thing with the Scania is that when you switch on the retarder the brake lights come on – so the truck behind me is thinking ‘what’s this useless bastard using his brakes down this hill for!’ ” 
We hold 70k all the way down the hill, completely unstressed – just like Roger. Even on the long descents either side of the Kaimai Ranges it’s the same, he says: “For example, going down the western side of the Kaimais at 50-tonne, I’ll set the speed to 40km/h at the top and that’s it – I’ll touch nothing with my feet. And I’ll get good driving points.”
Driving points? Roger happily explains: “On the dash is an eco driving score that rates your driving in areas such as braking and acceleration – coming into effect when you use the technology. 
“For example, if you use hill assist through the steering wheel it’ll give you five points for exemplary driving. However, if you use the brake pedal to activate it, you’ll get nothing. 
“So it’s basically telling you – ‘use me not yourself.’ It often comes up with tips on the dash like ‘next time, ease off the accelerator before the top of the hill’ – which is a pain in the arse because you actually lose quite a lot of speed. 
“But I think that it bases its fuel economy (performance) by using gravity and momentum. So if you ease off the accelerator, momentum will take you across the top of the hill, and then you use gravity on the other side to pick the speed up before you use the accelerator again. If you do that exactly right it’ll rate you well.”
He says that the difference between a good score and a bad score can be choosing to get on the throttle in a slightly different spot: “On a road that you know, if you’re 10 feet further up the road you’ll get the ‘next time’ message – and you lose six points. But you might gain two points if you’re further back. It’s encouraging you to be more efficient.”
And, Roger adds, it’s the same thing with the entire braking system: “Their (Scania’s) interpretation of slowing down and braking is for the first response to be changing down gears – using the engine to brake. 
“Once you’ve changed down enough gears that the engine has reached such a level that the auxiliary brakes are going to be efficient – sort of up in the 2000 revs mark –then you use the auxiliary brake. 
“And at the very, very, very last resort you use the footbrake. If you use the footbrake before anything else it deducts points.”
Being a veteran truckie I had expected that Roger might have been reluctant to use the new technology – but it turns out that’s completely wrong: “I just like it. It was a bit of a challenge to start with, but it’s the way the truck’s designed to work – so I work it that way to get the best out of it. 
“I sort of embrace it to a certain extent. You could call me a truck geek. It’s a little bit different yeah, but having been an owner-driver before, efficiency is a good thing to have. When you’re paying for the fuel and brakes, the longer you make everything last the better it is.”
He says that the eco score system has become a personal challenge: “You want the highest score you can possibly get don’t you? You want to be the best driver you can be. If you’re scoring high in it, the truck should be running as efficiently as it possibly can. And you’re extending the life of the truck as well ‘cause you’re not using things you don’t need to.”
At the bottom of the Bombays, Roger puts his foot on the throttle pedal…and that disengages the hill hold. He immediately swaps this for adaptive cruise control, again relaxing back in his seat. The Scania is in top gear and just cruising.
He’s impressed with the truck’s steering and the feel it gives you for the road: It is, he says, very direct – “not super-light, but it’s got just enough feel so you know that the road is below you…without struggling with it.”
And, he adds, it tracks beautifully. And, even with the length of the unit, it’s really easy to turn while reversing – this aided by the “little button you push that actually takes the drive off the rear axle, so when you’re turning it’s pivoting on the front axle instead of between the two axles. So the back of the truck kicks out a little bit more which will take the trailer around a little bit more. To have that facility sometimes is an absolute godsend.”
Roger says that he’s basically driven a heap of different gearboxes – from nine-speed to 18-speed Roadrangers, a 16-speed Spicer…and this GRSO905R with its Opticruise automated shifting is the best.
“It’s great. I’ve tried it in manual, but I find I can’t do any better. There’s the odd time where, when slowing down to use the braking, I’ll use it manually and there’s a couple of times that it hasn’t seen the hill and the revs will start climbing – so I’ll flick up on the wand and that’s it….it’ll pick up the next gear.”
In saying that, he admits he is a convert for automated manuals in general and reckons he wouldn’t give you tuppence for a manual now: “I hate the things. For the last seven or so years I’ve been driving autos, but the odd time when my truck’s in getting serviced, I hate it when I’m given a manual. It’s purgatory. 
“If you drive a manual for a day your shoulder starts aching, your arms get sore. If you’re stuck in traffic with a heavy clutch you’ve got to hold your hand on your knee. You don’t need that sort of shit nowadays – there are better ways to do things.”
He also believes that when you’re changing gear manually a lot of your concentration on the road and the rest of the driving task is lost – especially through the windy stuff. Whereas with autos you can concentrate on what’s in front of you, what’s coming up. 
“I think it’s a lot safer, because your focus is more on driving than what gear you’re in.”
Likewise, he’s happy to let the Scania do the braking most of the time too: “The Scania has five stages of retarder but I don’t use it much manually. I’d use the full stage of the retarder if I’m coming up to a stop sign (or a roundabout, or Give Way sign), especially on the open road…. 
“You use the gears to slow down and use the retarder when you get close: Put it on full noise until you just about stop then, if you need to stop, use the brake pedal.
The only time I switch it all off is when I’m empty in the rain ‘cause these retarders will lock you up – they’re that strong. If you turn it off, you’ve got nine axles that are braking and it’s all ABS right through, so it’s no drama.”
On the climb along the new Huntly bypass the Scania’s 16-litre is at 1100rpm, with the Opticruise in top gear and 82km/h showing on the clock. On the descent the retarder holds us at 90k in 12th gear, at a mere 1200rpm. 
The power, torque and retardation is more than sufficient – so much so, in fact, that Roger reckons running at 50 tonnes is so easy that he has to keep reminding himself that he’s loaded.
 “You sort of lose all concept of weight. I had this discussion with someone a few years ago about logging trailers that were rolling over. I said if you analysed it, it comes down to experience and horsepower: We’ve gone from 350hp being big to now 500-600hp.
“And if you look at the guys driving – how many years’ experience have they had? They’ve got huge horsepower and no concept of weight – so they go too fast. The only way a trailer can roll is going too fast into a corner.” 
It’s clear that Roger is very pleased with the Scania – and he reckons he struggles to find fault with it so far: “If you wanted to really nitpick, it would be getting out with just one hand and having it slide down the (grabhandle) rail, it gives you rope burn so to speak. 
“And the other thing would be the distance to the sunvisor – the passenger side one. The first Mercedes I had, had electric ones. That was really good. The driver’s-side door blind is good though.”
However, there is something that really “pisses me off” – and that’s the lack of a driver’s manual: “I know that with the first Actros I got, there was a delay between ordering it and picking it up. They gave me the manual and I read it cover to cover. I knew everything – every switch. 
“Whereas with this, I’m learning as I go. There’s nobody that will really teach you what everything does. I have picked it up, but that’s only through sheer perseverance and noting what happens when you do things. I think most people wouldn’t bother, which is a shame. When they build in features like they do, why not use them.”
And use them he does – reckoning that there’s not much he doesn’t know about the truck. He’s pretty much pushed every button: “There’s a couple here on the suspension settings that I don’t really know what they’re all about but it all works alright so…” He shrugs his shoulders.
So….pushing buttons and steering: That’s a lot of what truck driving is about these  days, he reckons: “I think it is nowadays – you’ve got to embrace and use this new technology or else you’ll get left behind. 
“When I first started driving I was in a D1000 Ford and I learnt to drive in a B Model Mack with two gearsticks. And I’ve been through everything – Internationals, Macks, Kenworths over the years. 
“It’s just so easy nowadays. New drivers just don’t know how lucky they are. Things have improved that much…..especially since the Europeans have been involved.”
Tuned-in as he is to the new technology, he also relies on his own instincts – learned through the years of driving experience. An example is not trusting indicated corner speed signs, finding some of them dangerously deceptive: “I know corners that are marked at 85km/h that your arse is stuck to the seat doing 70km/h!
“It’s a case of reading the road – feeling it. I guess it’s experience over the years too. Pick the road, pick the corner and you know how fast you can take it. 
“You can also pick the sharpness of the corner if you read the marker posts. The tighter the corner, the closer the marker posts are together. The yellow and black arrows are designed so you can always see three. If you see three close together, it’s a tight corner – and vice versa.”
His old-school habits include keeping his truck very clean by regularly putting it through the eco truckwash: “Half an hour, it’s all done – cab, chassis and wheels.” And he also makes time at the weekends to lubricate all the curtain tracks and ratchets plus he has a tyre lever in his toolbox for tweaking the track in case it gets hit by a forklift and won’t close easily. 
“It’s the little stuff that makes the job easier for the week – the fiddlesome stuff that you don’t get time to do during the week and is too menial for the workshop to do. Some drivers don’t do it and their shit gets hard to use. There’s nothing worse when you’ve got trucks waiting behind you and you’re struggling and hunting around for gear – holding them up.”
He thinks that being an owner-operator in the past makes a big difference to the way he works now – “because you realise the cost of stuff. It’s a hell of a lot easier to grease or oil something regularly than replace it. 
“If your curtains slide easy, life is easy. But if you’re struggling all the time to do something in the rain then it makes the job seem worse. I keep the deck tidy, I keep everything in its place and there’s a place for everything.”
The approach includes being very methodical in dealing with the loads: “My way works for me. Like with my ratchets, I do them a different way to others. When I put them in I pull the strap down. The reason I do that is because when you come to undo them, all you do is pull the tail of the strap out and it’s undone.”
All of this, he reckons, comes back to him being “basically lazy” – someone looking for the path of least resistance. 
“I’m 64 now, I’ve worked out that I’ve done about six million kilometres and I’ve got about another million kilometres left in me – and that’s in this. I’d be happy to do a million kilometres in this Scania. 
“Even if, in a couple of years’ time, the boss comes to me and says ‘there’s a new truck – do you want it?’ I’d probably say no, because you become quite tuned into something that you’ve been driving for a long time.”
For the record, the R 620’s eco driving score system has awarded Roger’s driving skills with a couple of 100% scores for braking and acceleration – but the best he’s managed for fuel economy so far is 94%, dropping points in hillclimbing and fuel saving.
He’ll keep striving for top marks. And he is learning new tricks every day.  

Pirelli Trevor Test
It has been some time since I last drove a Scania – so long, in fact, that the last one had three footpedals. 
We catch up with Rotorua Forest Haulage’s R 620 nine-axle curtainsider unit in Auckland, after it’s delivered a load of timber from the Bay of Plenty.
First impressions are that it is a good looker: The Roadmaster body and trailer pop with some awesome livery on the curtains, tied into the RFH fleet colours on the cab and its Peterson lights gleaming as the sun rises.
A short ride with regular driver Roger Cross behind the wheel is valuable: He has owned and driven his own trucks and has been driving trucks for many years…and he also likes to use the technology that trucks like this have in them….which a lot of drivers seem to shy away from.
Even without any specific driver training on the technology, he clearly has got his head around it all and lets the truck “drive itself” through the Auckland morning rush-hour traffic, using the Scania’s adaptive cruise control. 
My drive starts at Lake Karapiro, on the run to Rotorua.
Entry up into the cab is very typical European with three well-spaced, wide and deep steps – further helped by long grabhandles down each side. Once in, the driver’s position setup is a breeze, with plenty of room to move and get comfortable in the air suspension seat. 
The dash layout looks a little daunting at first glance – more like an aircraft control panel with lots of buttons/switches. But it doesn’t take long to familiarise yourself with the functionalities of it all.
The driving position and the controls are, once again, very European – with everything at your fingertips. If anything the Scania seems to have more buttons on the steering wheel than other makes – with a row of them along the bottom of the centre of the wheel, for cruise control, adaptive cruise following distances and the downhill speed-setting controls. 
On the left you have your entertainment controls and on the right are the digital dash display controls – with the AMT, engine brake and retarder controls on the right-hand stalk. As usual, on the left stalk are the windscreen wiper and turn indicator controls, with the headlight switches on the door – along with the rear-vision mirror and window controls.  
The dash is in the usual wraparound style, while still leaving plenty of room to move around the cab from the driver’s seat
The main dash display right in front of the driver is the now common mix of traditional gauges and a central digital display, which Roger has set on the driver performance scores – so he can see how his driving is being judged, live.
The central dash section has the entertainment screen and controls at the top, the airconditioning controls below – and, further down, more controls for the likes of the diff crossslocks and the interior lights.
Under all of this is a well-designed storage unit for coffee cups, keys, phones, wallets, paperwork and so on, plus two storage draws. Under the rest bench/bunk there’s a fridge and more storage. 
As I pull out of the Mobil at Karapiro the truck and trailer track well, with the mirrors showing very clearly what’s happening. They’re good mirrors….but there is one problem on the driver’s side: The upper, convex mirror is partly obscured by a tinted monsoon shield – rendering it mostly useless, as you can’t see much. There are no blind spots though.
Getting up to the open road speed limit is a breeze, with the gearbox and engine working well together. The 620hp engine actually seems non-existent, given the lack of noise in the cab. 
It’s a nice run along the flats to the end of the lake, and up over the hill into Tirau the 620 barely notices it. 
Heading up the Mamakus I decide to use the adaptive cruise control as this is said to be the best way to drive the truck – and not get marked down on the driver performance scoring system. As we head up the passing lane I have the truck set at 90km/h…and another truck goes past. The adaptive cruise locks onto the back of it for the rest of the journey to the top, with the Scania doing all the driving and me, the steering. I figure that the Scania will be delivering better fuel efficiency than the guy I’m following.  
Heading down the Mamakus into Rotorua I use the hill assist tech – which can be set by tapping the service brake at the start of the descent and the truck will hold you at the speed you’re doing all the rest of the way down. 
Be aware though that by selecting it this way, you’ll get marked down by the driver performance score system: It prefers that you select the downhill control system using the controls on the steering wheel.
I have it set at 80km/h and it doesn’t go above 83 – given its 3k overrun allowance. Very impressive.
Heading through Rotorua to the south side we negotiate small roundabouts and roadworks with ease, the Roadmaster trailer tracking well. 
All in all, when it’s time to hand the truck back to Roger we’re both very happy with his Scania R 620: It’s got so much horsepower you don’t need to worry about any geographical challenges….and so much technology onboard that you virtually don’t need to worry about driving it! Just set it in cruise control, steer it – and let it do its thing.