First drive: 2021 Mercedes-Benz Atego 1726 4×4 in the UAE
In the past decade, we have seen a lot of improvements in technologies on passenger cars and SUVs. It is no different with heavy trucks with improvements in creature comforts and safety. In the Middle East, it is very easy to spot commercial vehicles with a manual transmission but there are many brands introducing automatic transmissions and demand is rising for them. Mercedes-Benz recently gave us a demonstration on the latest technology in their heavy trucks.
Not so long ago, Mercedes Benz introduced an automated-manual transmission for their heavy vehicles, but this year they have come up with something better. Mercedes-Benz have teamed up with an independent transmission manufacturer ‘Allison’ to introduce the conventional automatic transmission in their trucks. With increasing road traffic, it becomes easier and less tiring for the driver to operate the vehicle, especially if the vehicle is meant to hit off-road. It can be challenging with a manual transmission for the driver to choose the right gear and shift quickly to not lose the momentum.
For the test drive, we were given a Mercedes Benz Atego 1726 4×4 which uses a 6-cylinder in-line diesel engine mated to Allison’s 3000 series Automatic Transmission with 6 forward gears and 1 reverse gear. Off the line, I could feel the transmission felt more engaged and the truck began to move as you let go off the brake just like a normal car would with an automatic transmission. With 6 wide ratio forward gears and a high torque diesel engine, there was never a need to use the manual mode to downshift while tackling the off-road course set for us. Transmission was tuned well to choose the right gears to stay at the peak performing RPM. The test truck also had three mechanical differential locks to help in off-roading situations. There are also additional features like Power Take-off (PTO) and exhaust braking.
Since trucks are built to spend more time on the road, Allison has developed the transmission to have very long service intervals. The Electronic gear selector is also an information center for the driver to know about Transmission oil life, oil level, oil filter condition and the gear condition. This helps save time during the truck’s routine check.
We have previously driven trucks with manual transmission and automated-manual transmission, and we can see a lot of reasons why Allison’s transmission can become a ideal choice for companies. It was quite easy and absolutely stress free to drive this truck, even in those challenging terrain. A manual transmission in a truck can range forward gears from 6 to as high as 18 gears, that require a lot of experience to drive properly, whereas this automatic transmission will seamlessly choose the right gears for every situation. Very soon, automatic transmissions with be the norm in the transportation industry, as the benefits of comfort and safety are much higher than a traditional manual transmission.