The Gigaspace cab of the new Mercedes-Benz Actros is almost a full 4 meters tall (13 feet). The inside headroom is 2.3 meters (6.5 ft).
The Gigaspace cab of the new Mercedes-Benz Actros is almost a full 4 meters tall (13 feet). The inside headroom is 2.3 meters (6.5 ft).

Daimler's new Actros heavy-duty truck, the result of a $1.4 billion investment, was launched in Europe with a huge press event that echoed Daimler exec Andreas Renschler's Mid-America Trucking Show comment, "Size matters."

The Mercedes-Benz Actros features a brand-new 12.8-liter in-line six-cylinder sourced from Detroit Diesel, with output between 420 and 510 horsepower and torque ratings from approximately 1550 to 1845 pounds-feet in combination with an automated manual transmission, the Mercedes PowerShift2.

Besides the all wheel discs and Jake exhaust brake with a higher power output than the vehicle's engine, up to 544 horsepower, an optional auxiliary brake in the form of a hydrodynamic (water) retarder attached to the transmission attains a power output of up to 1,020 horsepower.

The so-called Eco-Roll function, a freewheel technology, uses even short downhill stretches to save fuel, safeguarded and maintained on a decided speed by the wear-free auxiliary brakes through the cruise control.

Over a two-week period, 300 CDL-carrying editors went through a two-day program getting first-hand driving experience on the new vehicles, fully loaded to the legal 40 ton GVW limit in various configurations. The 220-km drive included not only the German Autobahn but also narrow and hilly country roads, villages and small towns with tricky turns and ends. The testing used 90 demo units, among them 30 current Actros model used to compare improvements in drivability and road stability on a closed proving ground.

The new model is loaded with technical advancements of which many in due time are expected to make it over the Atlantic to sister makes Freightliner and Western Star as well as to Fuso in Japan.

One possibility could be the new steering wheel adjustment. It can now be set within broad limits by pressing a yellow release and locking button with the left foot (there is no clutch pedal). The vertical adjustment range is 104 millimeters (0.34 ft) and continuously variable. The tilt angle can be varied between 28 and 47 degrees. The parking position - locked into place - is extra flat, only 8.5 degrees.

However, no Daimler executive would either deny and confirm any such technology transition during the Q&A session at the end of the press conference.