Giti Tyres Big Test: Quon Convert
Aman goes up the hill a skeptic... and comes back down a believer. Well... maybe not actually a complete convert - but at least more inclined to believe it's possible.
Believe, that is, that the automated manual transmission in his new UD Quon just might be as good as him at managing the gearshifts on steep and windy hills.
Like the big one we encounter on State Highway 16 - the Kaipara Coast Highway, between Helensville and Wellsford, north of Auckland.
When I asked McAllister Cartage owner Mike Steed 20 minutes back if he'd mind leaving the ESCOT-VI AMT to do its own thing on the hills ahead, he shot me a you've-gotta-be-joking look.
My point is that the AMT should be able to manage the hills just fine - automatically, autonomously: It is, after all, UD's adaptation of the highly-regarded, well-proven Volvo I-Shift.
His point of view is that while he's really happy with the automated manual trans, he's also sure that it's better to drive it in manual mode "most of the time - when it's loaded. Just because (otherwise) it changes gear too much.
"I've tried it - yep... but I just prefer manual. Then you can hold the gear longer..." So far, he concedes, he hasn't left it to do its own thing on a big hill - and he explains why: "I'm kind of new to trucking (he's been driving for 10 years)... and it's my first automated manual - so I can't yet drive it up to its full potential."
Pirelli Trevor Test
It's a typical run for McALLISTER Cartage owner Mike Steed - up to Wellsford for a load out of Rodney Aggregates' Whangaripo Quarry, and then back to Silverdale.
We meet Mike at Millwater, just off State Highway One north of Silverdale, for the run north for the load of GAP20.
It's my second time in the cab of a new UD Quon, after an introduction day at the Pukekohe motor racing circuit, so I'm familiar with the layout of the cab and really looking forward to seeing how the new truck performs in real work conditions rather than just driving around a flat track.
Climbing into the cab is pretty easy with only a couple of well-spaced steps to negotiate and excellent grabhandles front and back.
Once in the cab a quick look around confirms the handy placement of all the major controls and highlights the work that has gone into this model to improve the ergonomics.
The dash layout is very user friendly, with the speedometer and tachometer display immediately in front of the driver, with a digital information screen between them and gearshift information and engine brake display below.