NUMBER ONE
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Transport Benevolent Fund - 2019
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January 30 2019
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.


Technology and style combined in i6S integral

Introduction of a new DAF/ZF driveline is part of Irizar’s development of its integral coach range. We try a 12.9m i6S, which comes with a 408bhp MX-11 engine coupled to a Traxon automated manual gearbox

Styling of i6S is described as “more pronounced and aggressive” than i6

Coaches in the workhorse category now bristle with technology. They have components galore that make life safer and simpler for the driver and passengers, and highly-economical for the operator. That’s demonstrated by Irizar’s i6S integral.

The i6S is a development of the established i6. The most obvious differences between the two are in styling, with the i6S having lines that Irizar describes as “more pronounced and aggressive.” The newcomer also has LED headlights.

Irizar UK reports that the market has taken to the i6S integral well. It comes at five lengths, from 10.8m on two axles to 14.1m on three, and the price premium over an i6 integral is modest.

Like the rest of Irizar’s integral range, the i6S utilises a latest-generation DAF-based driveline. Both the MX-11 and MX-13 engines have seen peak torque levels upped, while at the same time the speeds required to deliver them have been reduced.

That delivers a fuel consumption benefit. To leverage economy further, there have been changes to gearbox options. The coach-specific version of ZF’s EcoLife automatic is available in conjunction with the MX-11, and the automated Traxon is offered with both engines.

Irizar, too, has contributed to efficiency. Undertrays and a lowered ride height at cruising speeds reduce drag, while auxiliaries such as the alternator and the power steering pump now run only when needed. Additionally, around 300kg has been removed from the unladen weight.

Many other clever items are fitted to the i6S integral. To showcase them and the new driveline, Irizar UK has a 12.9m demonstrator that comes with an MX-11 engine and a Traxon gearbox, which it made available for a routeone Test Drive last week.

Passengers’ pleasure

The i6S retains the family look that is the Irizar range’s signature aspect. Identifying the styling differences between it and the i6 is easy; much is obvious, such as at the front and the rear, and the wheel arches on the i6S are squarer.

Angular LED headlights of i6S form an integral part of its external styling

Irizar’s customary step format with textured edges is present, with a long and flowing handrail to boarding passengers’ left. The demonstrator kneels automatically when the door is opened, but that function can be disabled.

Two more steps lead to the sunken gangway; one more is necessary to reach the rearmost row.

All 53 i6 Plus seats are at the same height. They are trimmed in fabric with synthetic leather inserts, but a wide variety of options are available. They include real leather and a selection of flocked flatweave upholstery from Kneitz.

USB charging points are fitted to the lower seat frame, and each position comes with an optional drop-down table, footrest and magazine net combination. All have three-point belts. In addition, the demonstrator’s seat backs are covered in soft grey velour.

Wood-effect flooring is fitted, and white LED strip lights are within the edges of both the gangway steps and the luggage racks. A full-size centre sunken toilet comes with an electric hand dryer and a small servery above. A top-loading fridge is within the dash.

Irizar’s standard entertainment system is made up of a Bosch audio unit coupled to an Actia DVD player; the twin fixed monitors are 22in at the front and 15in at the centre.

With 53 seats in a 12.9m coach, leg room is good. Noise levels within the saloon are very low, and when coupled to a climate control system that utilises a Hispacold air-conditioning unit and perimeter radiators, the travelling environment is pleasing.

For the driver

Centrepiece of the cab is Irizar’s colour ‘virtual dash’, which is a model of clarity. In particular, the digitally-created speedometer is well-executed; at the centre of the dial is a road speed readout.

Cab centrepiece is Irizar’s colour ‘virtual dash’, which creates dials digitally

A large bank of switches is to the driver’s right. It includes mirror adjustment; a single large multi-direction rocker pad is coupled to a smaller individual selector button.

Many other things are controlled from here, including releasing the flaps behind which the fuel and AdBlue fillers are hidden, and the powered luggage bay doors.

Twin electrically-operated windscreen blinds are fitted, and both the péage and signalling windows are powered. The latter additionally has a heating element within it.

Entertainment units are to the driver’s left and above them is the climate control display. It is self-explanatory and it comes with the customary automatic settings for both the cab and the passenger area.

Room around the pedals is good and there is ample cab storage. In particular, to the driver’s right is a large bin that will hold an atlas, various sizes of bottle and much else. Within the base of the Isringhausen seat is a safe.

The headlights have an automatic setting, as do the windscreen wipers. Visibility is good enough, but on the offside the gullwing arm and the lower mirror combine with the A-pillar to make things slightly awkward there. That is a minor criticism, but it will be addressed: Irizar is working on rear-view cameras that will replace mirrors. Although there is no date yet for their homologation, testing is well underway.

An Actia reverse camera is fitted as standard, but it can be deleted if a comprehensive CCTV system of the buyer’s choice that includes rear-view capability is preferred.

On the outside

The coach’s dimensions are 12.92m long, 3.73m high over the air-conditioning unit, 2.55m wide and a wheelbase of 6.82m. The latter figure is substantial, but thanks to an acute steering lock the turning circle, at 24.29m, is only 3.12m bigger than that of the 10.8m variant.

53 i6 Plus seats are fitted; numerous trim options are offered by Irizar

Alcoa Dura-Bright alloy wheels are standard. That includes the spare, which is stowed beneath the platform area, although it can be deleted. A 480-litre fuel tank is over the front axle, and the 50 litres of AdBlue storage is at the offside rear.

DAF has downsized the aftertreatment units that go with its latest engines, and thus there is a good amount of space around the MX-11. The radiator is on the nearside.

The demonstrator has optional downlights on both sides to aid luggage loading during darkness. Potential for wheelchair access is via a lift mounted within the locker space. Additionally, the otherwise standard 12.2m model can be equipped with a ‘magic floor’ within a stretched front overhang, which extends its length to 12.6m.

Particular to the i6S and the range-topping i8 is an option for folding mirrors, reducing the potential for costly damage. Another consideration in the same regard is the ability to specify a three-piece rear bumper instead of the standard one-piece fitment.

Technical aspects

As fitted, the 10.8-litre MX-11 engine develops 408bhp and 2,100Nm of torque. Most important is where that pulling power is delivered, which on the MX-11 is from a mere 900rpm. While the new MX-11 is a significant development over its predecessor, Traxon represents at least the same over AS-Tronic. It has 12 ratios, and the driver can switch between economy, standard and power modes. Also fitted is a three-stage Intarder auxiliary brake.

The demonstrator has the optional predictive shifting control, which uses known topographical data to optimise shift strategy and deliver the optimum economy. The coach also has adaptive cruise control as standard, along with an ‘eco roll’ function that selects neutral on some descents.

Unladen weight is 13,484kg and GVW is 18,500kg. The coach rides on 295/80 R22.5 tyres.

Standard Irizar step layout fitted; coach auto-kneels when door is opened

On the road

Irizar’s integrals have always displayed fine road manners, and the i6S is no different. It has excellent poise and it goes exactly where directed; poor surfaces have no influence on that, and the coach stays in a straight line regardless of the conditions.

The driver thus quickly becomes accustomed to things, and that is further helped by the steering. A small wheel is fitted, which when combined with the good lock allows junctions and roundabouts to be taken with confidence.

At 62mph the engine is turning at just 1,050rpm in top gear. The same ratio can be held at 50mph in less taxing situations, although Traxon promptly drops a cog should an incline be encountered.

Shift quality is good, and drive is engaged noticeably faster than by AS-Tronic. Traxon is much more competent than its predecessor at coming down the gears, and manoeuvrability is improved thanks to an easily-used creep mode. It gives low-speed control similar to that of a torque converter.

The demonstrator has the MX-11 at the middle of three ratings offered in the i6S integral, and progress is made quickly. In particular, speed piles on when accelerating uphill as the benefits of predictive shifting become apparent.

Very noticeable is the total lack of wind noise from the gullwing arms. That is some achievement by Irizar, but it does not come at the expense of the view in the mirrors. In particular, the wide angle lenses give excellent vision of the lower front.

Verdict

The i6S represents a natural development of the i6, and when the styling updates are combined with a host of other additions - some of which are common to both models - the package is an attractive one.

The saloon ambience is good, with comfortable seats and low noise levels

With the latest powertrain, driveability has seen a step change. Traxon can match any other automated gearbox, and DAF’s downspeeding work has delivered a superbly flexible engine.

Drivers will further appreciate how the i6S integral holds the road. Under normal circumstances it is totally unflappable, and its exceptionally precise steering is a further plus, as is the powerful Intarder. The cab is also laid out nicely.

The passenger environment is welcoming and pleasant, and its low noise levels will gain approval. While the coach tested is built largely to Irizar UK’s stock specification, many options are available on those built to order.

Buyer choice extends to how the financial aspect is structured. Leasing options complement other payment forms, and as part of the vehicle handover the dealership delivers driver familiarisation if required. Complementing that are three levels of technical training for engineers.

This is a fine coach. If you’re in the market for a two-axle workhorse, it’s certainly worth a look.

Facts and figures

Retail price: From £255,000
Engine: 10.8-litre, six-cylinder DAF MX-11
Power: 300kW (408bhp) :1,600rpm
Torque: 2,100Nm @900-1,125rpm
Emissions: Euro 6 using EGR and SCR
Tyres: 295/80 R22.5
Fuel economy: 12.7mpg
Length: 12.92m
Height: 3.73m
Width: 2.55m
Wheelbase: 6.82m
Gross weight: 18,500kg
Unladen weight: 13,484kg




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