The new Actros 1863: on the road in Croatia with TruckTrainer Michael Pinhart

Story

A driver's best friend.

Truly impressed by the new Actros: TruckTrainer Michael Pinhart has put it through its paces.


Ground-breaking innovations in the new Mercedes-Benz flagship model: MirrorCams replace the exterior mirrors as standard on the Actros. The new Active Drive Assist offers far more than just a foretaste of autonomous driving. And the equally new Multimedia Cockpit takes the intuitive operation familiar from smartphones and directly implements this in the truck. 

The new Actros offers over 60 innovations, including the new Active Brake Assist 5 and the advanced version of the Predictive Powertrain Control intelligent cruise control. 

For RoadStars, self-employed TruckTrainer Michael Pinhart from Kulmbach was on the road in Croatia with the range-topping Actros 1863 GigaSpace. Here he explains the most important systems on the vehicle and offers his own verdict.



MirrorCam instead of exterior mirrors.

"The new Actros is the first production truck worldwide to feature MirrorCams. Instead of the main and wide-angle mirrors, there are digital cameras and displays in the A pillars of the cab. In my opinion, some of the most important advantages of this are that the MirrorCams give me a much better all-round view of the vehicle combination. Because the regular large outside mirrors are no longer present, I also can see better when I look diagonally forwards past the A pillar. 

And one really huge advantage: during cornering, the camera image on the inside of the curve is pivoted accordingly. That means I always have the end of my trailer in view. I also find the special wide-angle mode particularly good for reversing. In addition, the displays on the A pillars display warning signals in critical driving situations. And during a break or in bed at night, I can survey the vehicle's surroundings with the MirrorCams at the push of a button. That even works with the engine turned off."


The MirrorCams don't just offer a better all-round view and they aren't only clearly focussed on the traffic behind the vehicle, they also make a considerable contribution to saving fuel thanks to their streamlined shape. In the door control panel, the driver can set them as they require.
The MirrorCams don't just offer a better all-round view and they aren't only clearly focussed on the traffic behind the vehicle, they also make a considerable contribution to saving fuel thanks to their streamlined shape. In the door control panel, the driver can set them as they require.
Large displays located on the A pillar can show more than an outside mirror is able to. What's more, the driver maintains a full view of the entire trailer in sharp curves because the MirrorCam image is pivoted accordingly. The MirrorCam also enables the surveillance of the vehicle's surroundings, for example at night.
Large displays located on the A pillar can show more than an outside mirror is able to. What's more, the driver maintains a full view of the entire trailer in sharp curves because the MirrorCam image is pivoted accordingly. The MirrorCam also enables the surveillance of the vehicle's surroundings, for example at night.

Active Drive Assist.

"The new Active Drive Assist gives me the opportunity to utilise partially automated driving in all speed ranges for the first time ever in a series-produced truck. This is displayed to me in the large monitor behind the steering wheel. The system can automatically brake, accelerate and even steer. Initially it's a strange feeling to experience the vehicle being steered as if by an invisible hand. Still, I should always keep my hands on the wheel, because the driver always remains responsible for the vehicle, regardless of this automation.

When it autonomously steers the vehicle back into the lane, Active Drive Assist utilises the new electrohydraulically supported Servotwin steering system. But the Active Drive Assist isn't just helpful for staying in lane, it also slows down the truck when it draws too close to a vehicle travelling in front and then accelerates back up to the speed I'd previously set. That's considerably more capable than the distance assistant with stop/start functionality which we know from the previous model series." 


Active Drive Assist uses the markings on the right and left of the road for orientation.
Active Drive Assist uses the markings on the right and left of the road for orientation.
The blue steering wheel symbol and the 3D road animation in the display show that Active Drive Assist has taken over the controls.
The blue steering wheel symbol and the 3D road animation in the display show that Active Drive Assist has taken over the controls.
If the vehicle is in danger of unintentionally leaving its lane, for example due to a suddenly occurring side wind, Active Drive Assist intervenes within the system limits and autonomously steers the vehicle back into its lane.
If the vehicle is in danger of unintentionally leaving its lane, for example due to a suddenly occurring side wind, Active Drive Assist intervenes within the system limits and autonomously steers the vehicle back into its lane.

A new Multimedia Cockpit.

„The first time I got into the new Actros, I of course immediately noticed the new Multimedia Cockpit with its two colour displays. Instead of the usual instrument cluster with its speedometer, rev counter and fuel gauge, it has a large colour display installed behind the wheel.

 This screen shows the most important vehicle and driving information. Plus, the instrument panel lacks the usual array of control switches. Instead, there's another display that works just like a smartphone. With this display, you can control all of the other functions. The colour display and the touchscreen can both be operated via the new multi-function steering wheel while driving."


New on the multi-function steering wheel: the Touch Control buttons.

"The Touch Display also includes a radio and infotainment system. Here, can also intuitively operate the heating and air conditioning as well as the telephone and interior lighting. The touchscreen also simplifies the operation of bodies and implements. Additional options for connecting mobile devices further add to greater ease of use and comfort at work. Apart from two standard USB connections, this also includes the hands-free system with dual Bluetooth connectivity as well as smartphone integration using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto." 



As an expansion stage of the standard Multimedia Cockpit, Mercedes-Benz offers the even better Multimedia Cockpit Interactive, which I had on-board during my test drive. Here, the primary display, with its 12-inch (30.5 cm) screen diagonal, is considerably larger than the standard version. The driver can choose between two screen designs: 'Classic' and 'Advanced'. Bundled with this are the navigation system with the new Traffic Sign Assist, Remote Online for operation and surveillance of vehicle functions via a smartphone, and the Truck App Center for additional storage capacity and access to further comfort and efficiency-enhancing apps." 

More than 60 additional innovations.

"And these are only three of more than sixty innovations and improved details of the new Actros, which will make life easier for drivers and fleet managers. I'd like to emphasise a few more of these: 

Compared to its predecessor, the new Actros consumes as much as three percent less fuel on motorways and dual carriageways. This is achieved due to vastly improved aerodynamic performance (MirrorCams, new wind deflectors and concave cab side deflectors). And also through a higher transmission ratio of the rear axle (only available for the OM 471) and a range of innovations in the current version of Predictive Powertrain Control. On out-of-town roads, fuel savings are even as much as five percent. Here, the system's inter-urban functionality shows its strengths. The new Predictive Powertrain Control "knows" curve radii, roundabouts and speed limits. It utilises satellite locating services and topographical maps."


Improved Predictive Powertrain Control: the inter-urban functionality is a new feature.
Improved Predictive Powertrain Control: the inter-urban functionality is a new feature.
Concave cab side deflectors improve aerodynamic performance, which is also enhanced by newly implemented wind deflectors at the side windows. But the biggest effect in this area is certainly due to the new MirrorCams.
Concave cab side deflectors improve aerodynamic performance, which is also enhanced by newly implemented wind deflectors at the side windows. But the biggest effect in this area is certainly due to the new MirrorCams.

"Traditionally, the trucks with the three-pointed star are several years ahead of both the competition and legal requirements when it comes to safety. On-board in the new Actros: the improved Active Brake Assist 5, which is the only emergency braking assistant on the market that can also recognize people in the road. The system can, for example, respond to pedestrians that – smartphone in hand – walk out into the road without looking left or right. A scene that's unfortunately become increasingly common in this day and age. The new Stability Control Assist, which now also takes the trailer into account, the new electronic parking brake and the new Intelligent Light headlamp system also contribute to improved safety."


Thirty-three percent of all pedestrians have been involved in a dangerous situation because of being distracted by their smartphones, according to the DVR. Active Brake Assist 5 is the only emergency braking assistant for trucks that is able to respond to people in the road.
Thirty-three percent of all pedestrians have been involved in a dangerous situation because of being distracted by their smartphones, according to the DVR. Active Brake Assist 5 is the only emergency braking assistant for trucks that is able to respond to people in the road.
Safe and simple: the new electronic parking brake with its hold function.
Safe and simple: the new electronic parking brake with its hold function.
Unmistakeable: the curved light signature makes the Actros unmistakeable both during the day and at night. Plus, in combination with the dipped beams, it ensures perfect illumination of the road. The new Intelligent Light headlamp system comprises LED daytime running lights, an automatic main and dipped beam, an automatic cornering light and front fog lamps.
Unmistakeable: the curved light signature makes the Actros unmistakeable both during the day and at night. Plus, in combination with the dipped beams, it ensures perfect illumination of the road. The new Intelligent Light headlamp system comprises LED daytime running lights, an automatic main and dipped beam, an automatic cornering light and front fog lamps.

"And in the cab, not only the Start/Stop button is new. For even greater comfort, there's the ambient night-driving light and a new, warm-coloured living area light – very pleasant in the hours after work!"


Power centre: a newly designed Start/Stop button.
Power centre: a newly designed Start/Stop button.
An atmosphere of well-being: the new amber-coloured living area light.
An atmosphere of well-being: the new amber-coloured living area light.

The bottom line.

"The new Actros is a truck that brings with it many tangible improvements to everyday working life, and which utilises the opportunities brought about by connectivity – Multimedia Cockpit being the operative term here – and it's all for the benefit of the driver. I hope that plenty of you will get the chance to enjoy this vehicle very soon. I certainly had a whole lot of fun with the Actros 1863 during the test drive!"


Michael Pinhart.

Photos: Matthias Aletsee
Video: Martin Schneider-Lau

45 comments