Two and a bit years after Kenworth launched the exceptional T610 the next wave of its new product strategy has hit our roads and after a day being briefed and driving the new models at the Anglesea proving ground near Geelong  we reckon the heavy duty market leader has given itself the weaponry to keep the opposition at bay.

Kenworth has long been the King of Heavy Duty on Australian roads. It is a brand that carries legendary status. The big chrome grilles, the even bigger bonnets, the strutting stance, bullet proof reliability and durability as well as the fact that they have been built here for nigh on 50 years all of which has enabled the Paccar brand to stay ahead of the heavy opposition for a very long time. 

Paccar and Kenworth didn’t get to the top, and stay there by accident. It is a an organisation full of clever engineers and people who know what the market wants and demands and how to give it to them.

For a long time, despite increasingly more comfortable, ergonomic, efficient, safe and quiet product from European rivals like Volvo, Scania, Benz and the like, Kenworth has always been number one in heavy duty and held better than 20 per cent of the market.  

It seems incredible that the T610 arrived almost two and a half years ago ( it seems like just a few months) and it has been a huge success story for Paccar in Australia, presently accounting for around 30 per cent of its sales. 

That acceptance of the modern cab and better ergonomics signalled to management that spreading the concept beyond the line haul sector to the more vocational and intrastate sector, currently occupied by the T359 and T409 would not be a risk, something most realised anyway but the T610 success just validated things. 

So it was that the trade press were invited to the Australian Automotive Research Centre. 

Paccar Australia’s director of sales and marketing, Brad May briefed the media at Anglesea near Geelong for the media launch and a preview drive of the new T360 and T410, the trucks that will directly replace the T359 and T409. The tag line  for the new trucks is “The Best in the Business“ underlining the vocational nature of the T360 and T410.  

The essence of the new 360 and 410 is the use of the same basic cab and frame as the T610, and the development of the new trucks started virtually straight after the launch of the 610. Utilising the 610’s 2.1 metre cab, Kenworth engineers further developed the platform refining and enhancing key elements using its own R&D as well as feedback from its customer base.

“We always had the intention of taking that 2.1 cab from the 610 and rolling that into our other products and that is why we are here today, “ said Brad May.

“It gave us the opportunity to hit the reset button on our products and tailor them to the exact needs of our customers and that is what we do at Bayswater, we design and build trucks for what the Australian market requires,” May added.

The enhancements include shorter BBC length ( bumper to back of cab) resulting in greater flexibility with application configuration,  better visibility, as well as performance and driveability, improved safety and available options,.  

Of course, as we said, the new 360 and 410 are variations on the 610 theme when it comes to  both exterior and interior styling and all the benefits that come with that. 

It wasn’t just a matter of adapting the new cab.There have been a range of improvements and changes from taking 100kg out of the front frame, improving the turning circle by two metres and in the case of the 360, a 100mm improvement in the BBC dimension delivering better weight distribution and flexibility. The 360’s set forward cab and a steeply sloping bonnet also deliver much improved visibility. A redesigned aluminium core radiator is part of the reason for that weight saving along with some other strategies as well. 

Under that bonnet in the T360 is a Cummins ISLe5 9-litre available in a range from 280hp to 400hp, which can be mated to either of Allison’s 3000 or 4000 series full autos or Eaton RoadRanger manual and UltraShift AMT depending on the application. 

The 360 is available in 6×4, 8×4 and 10×4 configurations making it suited for a wide range of applications from the obvious Concrete agitator to tipper dogs and urban distribution work with a single trailer or in rigid form and is really aimed at fleets 

The 360’s big brother the 410 steps up to the next level and interestingly only comes equipped with Paccar’s MX13 litre. For what ever reason no Cummins option will be available on the 410.  

The 13 litre MX will be available in either 460hp or 510hp spec and while the announcement that 410 will be an MX only platform provoked some consternation from some of our press colleagues, we believe a major part of the rationale behind the move, apart from aligning Paccar’s driveline aspirations, was to deliver 12 volt electrical architecture. This enables  Paccar to offer the excellent Bendix Fusion Wingman suite of vehicle dynamics enhancements, which are now available on both the 360 and 410 and help the company meet the growing demand for crash mitigation and vehicle dynamic control systems from major fleets. 

The Paccartransmission, is a 12-speed twin countershaft AMT and is housed in analuminium caseensuring light weight. It is an Eaton box in every way and does the job extremely well offering a torque capacity of up to 1850lb/ft an is rated up to 50 tonnes GCM. Above this Kenworth is offering Eaton boxes that actually have Eaton name plates, either the venerable RoadRanger or its automated sibling the UltraShift. 

Kenworth is pitching the T410 to vocational, intrastate and interstate distribution work either in a rigid, single or multi trailer configuration. The truck boasts a set-back front axle and an optimal BBC dimension of 2,845mm andcan be rated up to 70 tonnes (GCM) ensuring it can be configured for PBS and tipper and dog operations. 

There is a choice of three sleeper cab options on the 410 with  a 600mm aero, 760mm mid-roof or a 860mm aero sleeper cab.  

To improve engine and transmission serviceability, a larger dog box and transmission access hatch have been added to the cab. Engine bay access to the engine, radiator and firewall areas has been upgraded through improvement to the hood tilt angle. The transmission hatch allows for safe and convenient access to the area around the top of the transmission. 

Inside the cab the AMT is operated by a stalk on the right of the steering column, which also has the control for the exhaust and engine brake. Kenworth says that moving the transmission control away from the left hand side of the dash has freed up space for even easier movement around the cabin and that is quite obvious.

The dash architecture comes directly from the 610 and while it has been adapted and tailored to the needs of the market for 360 and 410 it has the same look and feel with everything well laid out and easy to reach and it can be tailored to suit customer needs with options like a 7inch audio and nav system display.

For the launch. Kenworth had a number of trucks available for test including a T360A, the A standing for the agitator spec, with an Allison auto and concrete agitator bowl fitted, a T360 rigid with tipper body, a T410 day cab prime mover hauling a tanker trailer and a T410 prime mover with a mid size sleeper cab and using an Eaton 18 speed manual.

It is always difficult to get a handle on a truck’s character and true nature on a few laps of a high speed test track and a couple of runs up the Anglesea gradient loop track, but after driving a full cross section of the models available there were a number of things that stood out. 

Firstly the cab entry and egress has been vastly improved as it was with the 610 before. The steps are wider and more easily navigated into and out of the cab and the doors open wide to just make it easier to use overall.

Secondly the cabs are quiet, well laid out and extremely comfortable. We feel certain  that a full day at he wheel of one of these would be far less fatigue inducing than earlier and current models.

Another aspect is the excellent vision from the cab with the bonnet sloping away steeply to deliver better vision in front  of the driver as well as to the sides with the streamlined body mounted mirrors and the low cut door lines that leave fewer blindspots

Once underway and driving, the big plus is the steering feel and directness. Again, like on the T610, Paccar engineers have utilised a more direct and straighter steering shaft and this delivers big time when it comes to ease of operation and safer, more precise steering. Along with that is a big improvement in ride quality. A stand out was the T360 with tipper body and air bag suspension which was unladen. Normally an unladen tipper bounces about like a pogo stick but this one was exceptional, and with a load it would only be even better.  Quite frankly the trucks felt car like in their ergonomics. 

In the T410 the MX engine works extremely well  and as someone proffered at the launch, if you want more horsepower, then order the T610. While some may worry about the lack of a Cummins option the MX is a really nice engine  and it delivers on every criteria, including economy.

The MX is flexible and torquey and is perfectly matched and works particularly well with the 12-speed AMT. The shifts are smooth and quick, manual can be selected easily and the harmony with the engine/exhaust braking and downshifting is very good indeed.   

Truck & Bus News will have road tests of the T360 and T410  models in coming issues but if first impressions  are anything to go by then Kenworth’s new models fit the bill. To a T.