Issuu on Google+

EXCLUSIVE!

WINTER TEST 1

Ford Transit wins Arctic Van Test 2012

A

rctic Van Test 2012 had one of the best line-ups of contestants in recent years. Minus 25 degrees Centigrade was the average temperature that the nine examples from eight of the leading brands had to endure during the four-day

assessment. For the eighteenth running of this unique comparison test LCV manufacturers of panel vans with cargo volume between 10-12 cubic metres and with circa 140 hp from their Euro 5 engines were invited to Helsinki, Finland to participate. The light commercial vehicle industry reacted favourably and latest examples of the Citroen Relay/Jumper, Fiat Ducato, Ford Transit, Iveco Daily, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Nissan NV400, Opel Movano and Volkswagen Crafter were all present ready to face the challenges set by the organising team where they were joined by journalists from the Nordic countries, Germany, Bulgaria and Ireland. Such is the high esteem that the van manufacturers hold this event that representatives from Mercedes-Benz and Iveco sent vehicles and representatives direct from the factory to honour their commitment. Day 1 began with a short road test around the Mäntsälä area as part of the acclimatisation process for the vehicles and driver team. The next day, things got more serious with a series of urban handling tests and measurements, with the latter looking at the entry/exit to and from each vehicle, all round visibility, storage and durability. The urban drives took in Mäntsälä, Järvenpää, Vantaa, Helsinki and Espoo. An early start under a cloud of darkness and with the mercury levels dropping towards minus 20 degrees Centigrade, the first of three cold start and heater tests began. As an Arctic Test ‘rookie’, this was an interesting learning process and after experiencing two severe winters here in Ireland during 2009/2010 with lots of snow and ice, the ease with which the Nordic community deal with the conditions is commendable. As a necessity, all of the vans were fitted with auxiliary Webasto cab heaters, which were kicked into gear once the timing was done on the windscreen demisting, and the manufacturer’s heater got up to a comfortable temperature. This was timed on all vehicles as part of the test over three days. After the regulated idling time of 4 minutes the remaining part of the 760-kilometre journey began from the Rahtarit Professional Driver Club base at Mäntsälä. Heading north on the E75, the first leg was a short run to Renkomäki before the driver/van swap over. On average the distance covered in each van was around 70 kilometres. Practically all of the stopping off/exchange cum coffee/meal breaks were at ABC service stations, which impressed us with the high quality and variety of service available. With a keen eye on the legal speed limits (in order to avoid steep fines) most of the driving was done between 80 and 100 kp/h, which was surprising considering the road conditions. Par for the course here, I have been told. Trucks, trees were continuously met and passed as the van convoy carved its way along the snow banked roads. Mostly Volvos and Scanias with a few Sisu, the native brand, thrown into the mix. The majority of the towns and cities were by-passed as we travelled on past the signposts, all spelling out names that are unpronouncable such as Jyväskylä, Anneoski, Viitasaari and Phyäjärvi Pulkkila as we headed towards the west coast city of Oulu. From there we took an easterly route to our overnight halt at Syöte. As the crow flies, we were not too far from the Arctic Circle, not FLEETVAN&UTILITY | Spring 2012 11


WINTER TEST 1 to mention Santa’s headquarters at Rovaniemi. The dedicated route was prett y straight and flat which brought on drowsiness despite having to keep concentration levels high on the white blanket type surface. It was not until the final leg after turning off from the main road that hills and valleys appeared which made the journey a little more challenging and exciting. By the time we arrived there, nightfall had come down three hours earlier at 4.30 p.m. More significantly the freezing temperatures had dropped to minus 28 degrees Centigrade and a snowy mist began to fall that continued on through the night. No serious issues arose from the vehicles (or drivers!) other than a slow puncture in the Daily (on the outside right twin wheel) and a malfunction on the full beams switch on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Another pre-dawn wake-up call was on the cards the next morning for the second cold start/heater experiment. “In heater evaluation analysis the most important factor is how soon cabin temperature rises to 20oC. Other factors are the cleanness of the windows and mirrors. Starting is also a factor in evaluation. There was no major issues with cleanliness, but in this test both the Ford Transit and the Volkswagen Crafter had some problems when starting," stated Pentti Mustonen, one of the test coordinators. The reason? “We asked the participants to use engine oil which is recommended for winter weather conditions. Ford and Volkswagen however specified standard oil from their factory suppliers. The other vans had used winter oils. These factory oils had a viscosity of 10 W - winter oils must have a viscosity starting from 0W or 5W.” From the parking lot at Pikku, 60 kilometres or so was driven to the privately owned Pudasjärvi Airport. This former military base has been used by the organising team for the handling, visibility and suspension tests and measurements. The driver panel was therefore broken up into three teams to carry out these day-long activities. As each vehicle was put through its paces, each member of the driver panel had to rank a score card from the many aspects of the vehicle’s performance under review. One of the first tasks before any of the above tests were undertaken, the 600 kg on board (consisting of 25 kg gravel bags had to be unloaded … manually). Kept the blood circulating at least! As witnessed, some of these drivers need more exercise, as the process took longer than expected! By lunchtime we were all fit for the local traditional dish – reindeer stew with mash. Back to the hotel then at Pikku-Syote for the points calculation and evaluation discussion. This meeting went on for 90 minutes and preliminary results were announced – the third element of the pre cold start/heater test was to be undertaken early the following morning. From the provisional standings, the Ford Transit came out on top, marginally – as per results chart. To those in the know, this was not a surprise, as at the launch of this Stage/Euro 5 version in Munich last year, we are aware that everything but the bodyshell has been modified and that all of the underpinnings of this latest but last of the current generation Transit will feature in the new Transit Custom due for its world premiere at the CV Show at the NEC, Birmingham in April. We were told then that what you do see is the outgoing Transit and what you don’t see is the new Transit. Mercedes-Benz representatives were none too pleased that the Sprinter (which is soon to have a new 7 speed autobox available) was beaten to the finishing line. Especially after leading the points table throughout the contest. Some members of the driver panel from the Nordic region penalised the Sprinter for having ‘an ESP – (Electronic Stability Programme) that was too strong!’ In other words, for the conditions like these, which are normal for Finland, the ESP9 system used by Mercedes-Benz (which is the latest provided by its supply partners Bosch), kicks in too soon before the aligned ASR (Anti-Skid Regulator) gets to do its job fully. It’s all down to when and how much torque reduction is aportioned to the offending skidding wheels. Volkswagen has a similar system fitted in the Crafter. As one jury member explained, “In winter driving, when overtaking the centre section of the road is usually covered with a higher level of compact snow and ice. When the vehicle with ESP9 hits this, the electronics kick-in immediately and 12 FLEETVAN&UTILITY | Spring 2012


WINTER TEST 1

reduce the torque, which in their opinion can slow down the overtaking manoeuvre, making the pass on the 25.25m truck for example that more difficult and possibly dangerous.” That said, under normal circumstances the ESP9 system is excellent and certainly enhances road safety. The Opel Movano and sister van, the Nissan NV400 suffer from the same plight according to the panel that carried out the ‘slalom’ tests on the airport’s runway. Both the Ford and Mercedes-Benz reported some problems with the extreme temperature, which resulted in a reduction in engine power for a short while. Both brand representatives stated that if grille covers were fitted it would eliminate the problem as per what Fiat and Citroen had done. Those issues aside, the broad selection of vans available for this year’s Arctic Test made it one of the best comparison trials in years. All credit must to go to Heikki Laurell and Pentti Mustonen, the main organisers, from the Auto Tekniikka ja Kuljetus publication group, for their excellent organisational and logistical skills. 2012 marked the 25th anniversary of the Arctic Tests, which began with trucks, with vans introduced 18 years ago. Pick-Up trucks were added to the test match programme later. Next year, it has been proposed to feature new compact vans including the new Mercedes-Benz Citan, Opel Combo and possibly the Renault Kangoo ZE electric, the current International Van of the Year. By all accounts the ‘rookies’ passed the driving endurance test too. Once in the laps of Lapland, the calling to return will be difficult to refuse. Roll on Arctic Test 2013!

Nokian studded tyres do the business! For the Arctic Van Test 2012, Finnish tyre producer Nok ia n re-f it ted all the vans with its latest (7th generation) Hakkapoliita C Cargo studded tyres. On the compacted snow and ice, grip and braking power was impressive. Maintaining high average speeds was achieved in a controlled fashion, which was down to the new square shaped steel stud application on the tyre. Each ‘C’ Nokian tyre has almost 200 studs applied. Said Matt i Morrii, Manager Technical Customer Services at Nokian, explaining the successful development of this tyre range designed specifically for light commercials. He was keen to emphasise that car tyres do not best suit vans, as they are not made to cater for the load and braking factors. Nokian’s tyre manufacturing process, which was demonstrated by video showed the installation of an additional side strip which acts as a strengthener to the tyre's build quality and lessens vibration on the road. FLEETVAN&UTILITY | Spring 2012 13


WINTER TEST 1

Arctic Van Test 2012 - General Assessment in brief Make/Model Citroen Relay/Jumpy 2.2 litre HDi (130 hp) L3H2 Fiat Ducato 2.3 litre MultiJet (130hp) H1L2 Ford Transit 2.2 litre TDCi (140 hp) 350L Trend Iveco Daily 3.0 litre FPT (146 hp) 35C15V Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2.2 litre (130 hp) 313 CDI BE Trend Nissan NV400 2.3 litre dCi (125 hp) L2H2 Comfort Plus Opel Movano 2.3 litre CDTi (146 hp) L2H2 Volkswagen Crafter 2.0 litre (163 hp) Pro 35 Volkswagen Crafter 2.0 litre TDI (143 hp) BlueMotion 35

Positives • Steering feel • Strong bulkhead • Mirrors & adjustments • Braking System • Fuel Economy • Smooth Engine • Mirrors & Adjustments • Fuel economy • Low engine/road noise • Ventilation system • All-round visibility • Handling • Interior lighting • Passenger seat comfort • Steps for cleaning windscreen • Air suspension seat • Mirrors/visibility • Cornering lights • Stability on icy roads • Quality Build • Low engine noise • Driving position • Easy to repair • Good storage areas • Spacious passenger seats • Easy to drive • Steps for cleaning windscreen • Fuel consumption in urban area • Fuel consumption in rural roads • Stronger engine (hp) • Good storage areas • Spacious passenger seats • Easy to drive • Steps for cleaning windscreen • Fuel consumption in urban area • Driving position • Large cabin • Easy to repair • Low engine noise • Driving position • Large cabin • Easy to repair • Low engine noise • Fuel economy

Negatives • Foot pedals off centre (to right) •Foot pedals too close • Entry/Exit • High engine & Road Noise • Hard suspension • Foot pedals off centre (to right) • Foot pedals too close • Entry/Exit • Engine & Road Noise • Hard suspension • Seating position • Walk through ability • High driving position • Air intake at freezing temperature • Mirror adjustments • Fuel consumption • Payload (turn-wheels) • Steering feels light • Small windscreen • No spare wheel • Steps for cleaning windscreen • ESP too strong for conditions • Air intake for freezing temps • Kerb/nearside visibility • Steps for cleaning windscreen • Harsh vibration on rough surfaces • Suspension over bumps • Fuel consumption in rural roads • Harsh vibration on rough surfaces • Suspension over bumps • ESP too strong for conditions • Big A Pillars • ESP too strong for freezing temperatures • Big A Pillars • ESP too strong for freezing temperatures • Stop/start non-function (due to freezing temperatures)

Preliminary Results TEST POINTS

Factor

CITROËN FIAT Relay/Jumper Ducato

FORD Transit

IVECO Daily

Mercedes NISSAN Sprinter NV400

OPEL Movano

VOLKSWAGEN Crafter PRO

VOLKSWAGEN Crafter BMT

8,2

8,2

8,2

8,4

8,5

8,2

8,2

8,4

8,4

2

16,4

16,4

16,4

16,8

17,0

16,4

16,4

16,8

16,8

7,9

7,9

8,1

8,3

8,6

8,0

8,1

8,4

8,4

3

23,7

23,7

24,3

24,9

25,8

24,0

24,3

25,2

25,2

7,6

7,8

8,0

7,7

8,7

8,0

8,3

8,7

8,7

1

7,6

7,8

8,0

7,7

8,7

8,0

8,3

8,7

8,7

7,5

8,3

8,9

7,5

7,2

8,3

8,0

7,2

7,2

1

7,5

8,3

8,9

7,5

7,2

8,3

8,0

7,2

7,2

8,8

8,8

8,7

8,9

9,1

9,2

9,2

9,3

9,3

8,8

8,8

8,7

8,9

9,1

9,2

9,2

9,3

9,3

8,50

9,00

9,00

8,75

8,00

8,50

9,00

8,75

8,00

1

8,5

9,0

9,0

8,8

8,0

8,5

9,0

8,8

8,0

8,0

8,5

9,0

8,5

9,0

7,5

7,5

9,0

9,5

4

32,0

34,0

36,0

34,0

36,0

30,0

30,0

36,0

38,0

7,5

8,0

9,0

8,5

8,5

8,0

7,5

8,5

8,5

1

7,5

8,0

9,0

8,5

8,5

8,0

7,5

8,5

8,5

9,8

10,0

10,0

7,3

9,0

9,3

9,0

8,5

8,5

2

19,5

20,0

20,0

14,5

18,0

18,5

18,0

17,0

17,0

132

136

140

132

138

131

131

138

139

Driver points Urban area test test points Road test test points Drive without load test points Handling test test points Measurements Cargo space test points

1

Acceleration test points Heating test points Noise in cabin test points Use and service Fuel economy test points TOTAL

14 FLEETVAN&UTILITY | Spring 2012

Text: Jarlath Sweeney – editor@fleet.ie Photos: Richard Kienberger


FV&Uspring2012_webwintest1