O F F I C I A L
BUSRide Road Test:
Van Hool CX35
O F F I C I A L
BUSRide Road Test:
With respect to the family, the 35-foot offering rolls to the beat of its own drum
The passenger cabin offers wide, reclining Grand Luxe-L-20g seats with straighter back cushion and headrest, upfolding armrests, as well as three-point seat belts and spring-loaded footrests.
BUSRIDE | NOVEMBER . 2015
The design and layout of the CX35 control panel mirrors that of the CX45.
The launch of the CX35 completes the celebrated evolution of the Van Hool motorcoach models developed for North American, which ABC Companies, the North American distributor of Van Hool motorcoaches, has spearheaded over the last several years. The CX35 hits the road in 2016 not only with the heralded genes of the Belgian coachbuilder, but also specialized features that make it unique in the Van Hool family with a personality all its own. What more could the youngest sibling ask for? Arriving in North America on the heels of the Van Hool TX45 and CX45, and more recently the double deck TDX, the 35-foot CX35 has not fallen far from the tree, as the old saying goes. For all intents and purposes, this coach cuts an identical profile to its closest sibling and packs the same punch — except for being 10 feet shorter. In fact, both models are 11 feet, 6 inches in height; 102 inches wide, and they share more than 70 percent of the same parts and componentry. ABC Companies says in the evolution of this line it only made sense that each model in the family of coaches performs exactly the same,
The driver’s seat with automatic three-point seat belt features self-leveling air suspension with independent air height adjustment, adjustable arm and lumbar support.
without altering anything having to do with the look and feel for the for the driver, passengers and the maintenance technicians. “Our goal has been to work with Van Hool to create a 35-foot model on the footprint of the CX45,” says ABC Companies’ Jim Morrison, vice president, sales, Southeast Region. “I think Van Hool and ABC Companies have succeeded in all that we set out to accomplish.” Morrison says the CX35 comes through Van Hool’s response to high demand from North American operators. “Van Hool is filling early orders from its new manufacturing facility in Macedonia, and our orders stretch well into 2016,” he says. Escot puts the CX35 to the test BUSRide recently met with ABC Companies for this Official BUSRide Road Test. The meeting took place in Largo, FL, where Brian Scott, president of Escot Bus Lines, was on hand to test drive one of the first production model CX35s to arrive in the U.S. The twist in the usual protocol is the fact that Scott had already purchased two Van Hool CX35s between now and the time he agreed to serve as the objective third-party driver on the day of this review. He will take delivery on his new coaches this coming March, which will complement the two Van Hool CX45 models currently running in the Escot fleet. Scott told BUSRide on this day he would be driving the CX35 for the first time. “I visited Van Hool at its headquarters in Belgium for a tour of the manufacturing facility,” Scott says. “I saw the CX35 in production and rode along on a demonstration drive, but I did not have an opportunity to drive it.” As for his observations at the factory, Scott spoke glowingly on the CX35 for its stability, comfort and quietness throughout the cabin. “In terms of my onboard passenger experience in Belgium, I did not notice any difference in feel between this 38-seat coach and the
At left: Contoured enclosed parcel racks with 23-inch monitors are available as an option. Below: The parcel racks house individual passenger reading lights with directional adjustment.
Passengers can connect via an electrical outlet and USB port behind each seat.
full-size CX45,” Scott says. “The CX35 is spacious and very comfortable with all the amenities and plenty of legroom.” The innovative front-to-rear flat passenger floor design provides the CX35 a spacious interior that eliminates the traditional “step-up” inside. The passenger cabin offers wide, reclining Grand Luxe-L-20g seats with straighter back cushion and headrest, upfolding armrests, as well as three-point seat belts and spring-loaded footrests. An integrated HVAC system results in additional luggage space below. To accommodate mobility-challenged passengers, the CX35 features a mid-ship wheelchair lift. As he took the wheel, Scott said he had been looking forward to driving the coach and finding out for himself how it performs. “As I drive, I will be listening for road noise. I want to see how it handles in the wind,” he said, driving the coach onto Highway 19, with the remnants of Hurricane Erica still threatening. “I’m expecting it to feel pretty smooth.” “I like the fact that the design and layout of the control panel is the same as the CX45,” Scott says. “My scan in the CX35 is the same as it is in the larger coach and the instruments are where I am used to seeing them, which really helps, especially in a time-sensitive situation. This allows my drivers to adapt quickly to this new coach without requiring hours of additional training.” The fact that the CX35 has a character of its own and marches to the beat of its own drum could not have made any clearer than by Scott’s very tight full-circle turn in the Escot bus yard within the space of the driving lane and parking spaces, which elicited cheers from other drivers watching on. 4
BUSRIDE | VAN HOOL CX35
“That was absolutely amazing,” Scott says. “I was never expecting to make it around in one complete turn.” For the record, it is an 18-foot, 7 and 13/16-inch wheelbase that allows the CX35 to cut a 32-foot, 3-inch turning radius. Scott says based on his first time at the wheel, he will train his Escot drivers in the early going to be mindful that the CX35 has only two axles instead of three, which makes the coach all the more responsive. ABC Companies notes that the layout of the engine compartment housing a Cummins ISL 9 EPA 13 diesel engine is equally familiar for technicians servicing the CX45. “The fact that the CX35 and CX45 share such a large number of identical parts and components is an important selling point for me.” Scott says. “From the standpoint of inventory control, I can see where this will result in cost savings and reduced downtime.” In fact, he says it’s likely his maintenance department already has many of the interchangeable parts in stock for use on the two CX45s. “The CX35 affords a full-scale, quality coach experience for smaller charter groups, shuttle operations, school teams and functions that would not otherwise fill a full-size coach,” says Roman Cornell, executive vice president, ABC Companies. “Greater fleet flexibility allows operators to cater to a more diverse market segment, and still provide the standard features and high-end amenities enjoyed on the full-size CX45.” “Based on what I have seen and experienced to this point, its length makes the CX35 unique,” Scott says. “I don’t believe our customers, drivers or maintenance staff will ever view this coach as anything less than its 45-foot counterpart – and that’s saying a lot.”
The CX35 offers ample luggage space for passengers.