There are miles more smiles ahead for John Phillips, who has just become the proud owner of Britain’s most powerful Mercedes-Benz New Actros yet.
Supplied by Rygor, the country’s biggest Mercedes-Benz Dealer, it is the first UK-registered tractor unit to feature the top-rated 460 kW (625 hp) version of the 15.6-litre OM 473 in-line six-cylinder engine which crowns the manufacturer’s Euro VI BlueEfficiency Power range.
Mr Phillips is based in Hartlebury, near Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire. An owner-driver for 28 years, he spends most of his time delivering sheet and coiled steel nationwide for leading customer ASD metal services.
His New Actros 2563 LS has a GigaSpace cab for the ultimate in driver comfort, and an exhaustive list of options, including Bi-xenon headlamps, air deflectors, Alcoa aluminium wheels and Kelsa light bars.
It also boasts an uprated 8.0-tonne front axle and high-performance engine brake, as well as numerous practical and luxury items that make the Style-Line interior a real home from home. The vehicle’s stunning paintwork and chassis infill, meanwhile, are the work of Tor Trucks, of Somerton, Somerset.
Mr Phillips’ first Mercedes-Benz follows a string of high-specification units by other truck-builders. "I first set eyes on the New Actros at the 2012 Commercial Vehicle Show and thought it looked fantastic, very modern and attractive, with a comfortable, car-like finish to the cab," he recalls.
"I started digging a bit deeper and quickly realised that it’s the best vehicle on the market by a margin. I was also encouraged by the fact that while everyone else was telling me to buy at Euro V, Mercedes-Benz was more forward-thinking and actively promoting its Euro VI engines long before the latest emissions regulations came into force – this, I felt, demonstrated the manufacturer’s great confidence in its product and was very reassuring."
Within days of taking delivery of his New Actros, Mr Phillips says the truck is already living up to its promise. "The ride and handling are superb, and it’s a real pleasure to drive – just like being in a big armchair," he continues.
"The engine is very smooth and delivers its massive performance in a quiet, unflustered manner. Look at your speedo, though, and you quickly realise that you’re travelling. More important to me than outright speed, however, is torque – I wanted 3,000 Nm and the New Actros ticks that box too."
Unsurprisingly, fuel efficiency was not Mr Phillips’ number one priority when he ordered his new truck. "I need a reason to get out of bed in the morning so I want to get some enjoyment out of the job, and that means having a vehicle with plenty of power on tap," he says.
"Running costs are important too, though, so there’s always a balance to be drawn. Having monitored my fuel usage over the last couple of days it looks as though I’ve struck lucky with this Mercedes. I’ve just come back from South Wales at 9.4 mpg and I’m very happy with that. That’s already on a par with my last truck but the New Actros has more power and is much nicer to drive. Plus, of course, it’s only just begun to ‘bed in’ and can only get better."
Mr Phillips’ tractor unit is the subject of a five-year Mercedes-Benz Repair and Maintenance Contract and will be inspected and serviced by the workshop team at Rygor’s Kidderminster branch. He adds: "The dealer’s Truck Sales Manager Jeremy Price bent over backwards to help me specify the vehicle correctly – I can’t fault him."
Produced at the manufacturer’s Mannheim engine plant, the OM 473 is also available with output ratings of 425 kW (578 hp) and 380 kW (517 hp), these engines generating maximum torque of 2,800 Nm and 2,600 Nm respectively. Fuel efficiency, meanwhile, is improved by between 0.5% and 1.5% compared to equivalent versions of the previous V8 OM 502.