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1500 km of pure enjoyment
BY IEP VAN DER MEER
There is a significant shortage of drivers all over Europe at the moment and drivers are becoming increasingly involved in the decision-making process when buying a new truck. Journalist Iep van der Meer drove an XF Super Space Cab from Spain to the Netherlands and found out why DAF’s flagship is the truck of choice among international drivers.
It is 7 a.m. and I have just woken up after a very comfortable night’s sleep in my Super Space Cab. The comfortable thick mattress and superb climate control in the cab have meant that I have slept so well that I almost have to look twice to make sure I am not at home in my own bed. With the alarm having put a stop to my dreaming, I check my iPhone to see where I am. ‘Aires de Montélimar’ I read on the screen, about 700 kilometres from the Luxembourg border. That’s my next port of call because I want to get out of France before the Sunday curfew on trucks kicks in and grounds me for twenty-four hours. I should be able to cover that distance without too much trouble, and so I allow myself the time to have a nice breakfast of fresh croissants and excellent coffee at the Rasta service station.
Steady as she goes
I departed from Sitges in Spain yesterday in ‘my’ DAF XF530 FAN complete with trailer. A terrific combination that is fully kitted out in the new DAF ‘Pure Excellence’ style. After getting the necessary instructions, I drive out of the town along the boulevard and head for the motorway. Priority number one is to get to the French border without delay. Fortunately, this leg of the journey is a relatively quiet one, apart from the busy Friday evening traffic around Barcelona. I quickly find myself leaving Spain and heading into windy France. Outside the Mistral is whipping up a storm, but in my DAF it’s steady as she goes. >
Good news for the boss
The latest generation of DAFs feels like an old friend and the truck is a pleasure to drive thanks to its 530 hp/390 kW MX engine and the new Traxon gearbox. I switch to Predictive Cruise Control, setting the under- and overspeed to five kilometres an hour. This keeps the truck driving at a steady and efficient speed. And that is good news for the boss…
The cruise control also activates the EcoRoll, accelerates when going uphill and takes its foot off the pedal whenever possible. The software is now so advanced that I even notice the DAF switching to EcoRoll all by itself, even when on a slight incline. The computer will do this when it calculates that the truck has enough kinetic energy to allow it to roll over the top of a hill without accelerating. With all due respect, I don’t think there’s a driver anywhere who can do that any better.
It may take some getting used to at first for some drivers, but it is amazing to see how superbly the technology manages the performance of the vehicle. Thanks to predictive shifting the driveline is always ready at the right time, while when going downhill the MX engine brake is proof, if needed, that a retarder is superfluous to requirements now. The technology is so advanced, in fact, that it will even decide to shift down a gear if the truck’s speed needs adjusting while travelling downhill. It all combines to ensure a very relaxed driving experience and no shortage of comfort, not forgetting the excellent fuel economy figures. This is confirmed by the Driver Performance Assistant on the dashboard, aka the DAF driver’s very own digital coach. The DPA rewards me with a green thumbs-up and an outstanding score of 94%. >
The new DAF generation is equipped with all of the most modern systems, and it is also worth pointing out that the trucks are fitted with ACC active cruise control as standard. I have always been a big supporter of this safety system because it keeps a permanent eye on the trucks in front, even when the driver looks away for a moment or two.
The kilometres fly by and the peace and quiet of the cabin is very relaxing, to say the least. The same could be said about the whole vehicle actually. The air suspension makes the truck behave not unlike a big long-distance coach. The radio, the navigation and even the telephone are all fully integrated and that makes life so much easier. The new climate control system is also a major plus. It is much more user-friendly and also works in combination with the parking heater. DAF has set this up rather cleverly because when you turn it on it automatically uses the residual heat from the engine. That means free heat and you can’t get any better than that.
After spending the night on the Belgium - Luxembourg border I arrive on Sunday morning at the gates to the DAF factory in Eindhoven. My truck has the right colours so security just waves me on through! ■