The next piece in the Mercede Benz ‘Actros’ jigsaw has fallen into place this week with Daimler Trucks launching its third wave of new generation product with its latest all-wheel drive truck range.

With the intro of the prime mover in late 2016 and the rigid Actros range last year the All Wheel drive models give the German maker an impressive arsenal of commercial vehicles spanning a wide range of niches and applications.

Truck and Bus News can report that it is an extremely versatile and accomplished range of go anywhere trucks that will appeal to a wide range of customers with applications that require off-road access in extreme conditions, and features 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 models in the four model/eight variant line up.

The truck press was hosted by Mercedes to a freezing cold test day at the Melbourne 4×4 and off road centre at Werribee  where slippery mud and loose ground really tested the four trucks spanning the range to the limit.

The four basic truck models in the AWD line up like the rest of the Actros range are all powered by Euro 6 compliant engines along with a suite of new technology and improvements including, fuel economy savings, reduced AdBlue consumption, safety technology and new levels of comfort and refinement.

Benz is aiming the new trucks at mining, construction, remote maintenance, fertliser spreading and off-road adventure travel operators, amongst other applications.

Michael May, the Director of Mercedes-Benz Truck and Bus Australia was on hand at the launch and says the all-wheel drive range follows on from the successful introduction of the prime mover and rigid range and gives the brand an impressive arsenal in the heavy vehicle market.

“Our new generation prime mover and rigid models have been demonstrating excellent performance, economy and driver comfort across Australia and now we are excited to introduce our new range of all-wheel drive models,” May says.

“The versatility, robustness and capability of these trucks is second to none and we think our customers will appreciate the ground-up design that brings a range of benefits.”

While we labelled the new AWD as part of the Actros range in inverted commas, in fact Mercedes is referring to the AWD range only by model number nomenclature, with a familiar company code that refers to the vehicles GVM and its horsepower in a shorthand manner.

For instance the entry level 4×4 truck would be called Atego in normal highway guise but the AWD  4×4 model is known as the 1630 thanks to its 16 tonne GVM and 300hp 7.7 litre engine.

The range uses either the Benz 8-litre  or 11-litre Euro 6 power plants  as standard with the Benz 13-litre  available for specific applications.

The all-wheel drive range runs from the 16-tonne 300hp 1630 4×4 rigid model which Benz says is perfect for elevated work platforms for transmission line maintenance, all the way through to the 41-tonne 460hp 8×8 4146 that the company suggests could support remote mining exploration operating in tough conditions.

The AWD trucks bristle with electronic equipment and technology and display extraordinary off road capabilities, marching up steep slippery slopes unladen (when traction is most at a premium), through creek crossings and down steep drops with amazing surefootedeness, articulation and aplomb.

The Euro 6 engines feature asymmetric turbocharging as well as X-Pulse high pressure direct injection technology, which Benz says both helps deliver more usable torque and assist with low speed drivability.

Truck and Bus News can attest that the high performance engine brake fitted across the range helps drivers navigate steep descents with relative ease.

Benz  also offer a secondary water retarder as an option while the all-wheel range also features a cyclone prefilter cleaner to handle extreme environments.

The 8-litre six-cylinder engine is offered with either 300hp or 350hp while the 11-litre unit can be had with ratings of 400hp, 430hp and 460hp.

Fully automated transmissions are standard across the range, while customers with certain applications, such a fertiliser spreading, may prefer to specify a manual transmission.

The eight-speed PowerShift automated unit is standard for the 8-litre engines, while a nine-speed manual is an option. An Allison five-speed torque converter automatic is also available as an option for the 300hp 1630 model.

The 11-litre engines are paired with the automated16-speed powershift transmission which delivers 50 per cent faster gear changes than previous generation AWD models. The powershift transmission also includes the crawl function which allows for easy pulling away uphill and responsive manoeuvring control.

A low-speed transfer case is a feature of all models for optimum off-road performance. The 4×4 models operate in rear-drive mode until all-wheel drive is selected by the driver and they feature rear differential locks. The 6×6 and 8×8 models operate in all-wheel drive mode at all times and feature front and rear axle differential locks.

Mercedes-Benz says it has also developed a new heavy duty chassis contruction engineered for high torsional flexibility and increased robustness utilising cold-formed ultra high tensile steel.

The new cabs also deliver improved comfort and refinement and exceed the ECE R29 standard and the Swedish Cab Test.

The new driver-focused interior delivers a big improvement in refinement levels, with controls located well within reach of the driver. Several items can now be controlled using the steering wheel controls.

The new all-wheel drive range comes standard with an Electronic Braking Systemwhich controls the complex braking and traction functions of the entire vehicle including Hill Hold Assist, Traction Control (ASR) and ABS.