Scania Irizar i6 Euro 6

It’s been a long time since the first proposals for Euro 6 were made, and with increases in chassis price that all manufacturers are making in an attempt to recoup their development costs, operators have generally been slow to adopt the new technology. .
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The first Euro 6 coach to be sold in Britain is Scania’s Irizar i6, bought by Midlands-based Solus Coaches in September, 2013. Once the coach, used for our test drive, finished a series of demonstrations to operators, it joined Andy Garratt’s Tamworth-based fleet in the spring.

It arrived in the UK on 18 October and a fortnight later it became the first Euro 6 coach or bus in the UK to undergo a formal press test drive, when routeone put it through its paces on our East Yorkshire test circuit.
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Rather than the independent front suspension fitted to the Euro 5 model that we tested in August 2011, the Euro 6 model comes with a beam axle, although we did not notice any perceptible difference in handling or performance.

Otherwise, the familiar i6 body is unchanged, other than offering 8.1m luggage capacity compared with 6.51m of its slighter shorter Euro 5 sister.

No changes to rear styling needed for Euro 6 equipment
No changes to rear styling needed for Euro 6 equipment

With clean, modern lines and a ‘friendly’ face, it stands out well on the road, while the body design allows good space front and rear for operators’ branding, along with plenty of room on the side for an eye-catching livery, if required.

The fit and finish are to a high standard, with no obvious squeaks or rattles, while the clever design ensures that it is also user-friendly, for example with interlocks to prevent the coach being moved while panels or locker doors are open.

Plenty of space for offside access to engine
Plenty of space for offside access to engine

At Euro 6 the engine remains 9-litres, but the absence of EGR means that there’s more space over the top of the engine.

Engine bay arrangement makes daily checks easy
Engine bay arrangement makes daily checks easy

Together with a re-designed rear underframe it means that there is masses of space in the engine bay, while the cooler group is a similar size to the Euro 5 version. The emissions equipment, within the exhaust system, is positioned by the rear nearside wheel, so it does not obstruct the engine bay. In all, the packaging is very user-friendly and a welcome surprise.

Nearside radiator and emissions control/exhaust
Nearside radiator and emissions control/exhaust

There’s a 12-month bumper-to-bumper warranty, plus an optional two years’ repair and maintenance contract.
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With a flat floor making it more accessible for older passengers, this is a coach that offers no great challenges to the mobility impaired.

Interior, with flat-floor, is airy and welcoming
Interior, with flat-floor, is airy and welcoming

The plug door allows easy access, and also seals well with no noise at speed. Indeed the only significantly detectable sound during the drive was from the climate control and tyres/road.

With three steps into the front area, a turn and two more steps into the saloon, helpfully-sited handrails and non-slip treads on the stairs complete the package.

An advantage of the flat floor is that while the gangway width is narrowest (37cm) between the arm rests, at the crucial hip-height it is 51cm, allowing unimpeded access down the gangway.

Pleasant interior for enjoyable travel
Pleasant interior for enjoyable travel

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Once in the saloon, there’s plenty to delight. The i6 seats – Irizar’s own design – have side supports, handrails, and drop-down tables with cup holders and foot rests.

Comfortable seats and good legroom
Comfortable seats and good legroom

Lighting is by tasteful LED strips along the luggage rack edges, plus LED downlighters in the ceiling and above the seats.

This coach is finished in a tasteful brown, called violin, with champagne-coloured leather headrests and piping, which subtly blends nicely with the various light and mid-grey trims used on the side walls, seat backs and ceiling.

The wood-effect flooring adds an upmarket touch, while the centre-sunken toilet is to Irizar’s usual high standards.

The legroom on the reclining three-point belted seats is 70cm on the offside, and a very comfortable 73cm on the nearside. The windowsill is just the right height and width on which to rest your arm.

There are full-draw curtains, held in place with Velcro tabs, should the tinited glazing not be sufficient when the sun is low in the sky. Helpfully, the front sunblinds have a mesh above a solid panel, meaning the forward view is less obstructed that it could be.

Together with a full Bosch Professional Line package of DVD/CD/radio, a 15in central flat-screen monitor and a 22in one at the front, entertainment is taken care of too.

In all, the passenger saloon is very comfortable and relaxing – just what passengers want – and should please the majority.
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[tab title=”Driver Comfort”]
The driver is very well looked after, from the lockable safe under the seat – which is easily and fully adjustable, complete with arm rests either side – to a separate climate-control for the cab.

Electric sunblinds and a tachograph that’s sensibly positioned add to the package. When driving, the tacho defaults to show the driving time in a large display. Access to the seat is made easier with a steering wheel adjusted by a button on the right-hand side of the column, allowing full rake and reach control.

Good layout of controls and relaxed driving position
Good layout of controls and relaxed driving position

However, your test driver found it a little tricky to position it where all the instruments could be easily seen.

All other controls fall easily to hand, and a multifunction pad on the steering wheel also controls the central display, which can be cycled between various functions – from air pressure to current fuel consumption, and much more.

The automated gearbox is controlled by the right-hand stalk, making manoeuvring especially easy. Storage space is in the front of the dash, and a deep pocket to the driver’s right.

The preying mantis-style mirrors provide excellent visibility all round, although we’d plump for the optional reversing camera (around 750) as an essential extra.

The main locker doors, with pantograph-type hinges, are controlled from the cab, while all the other side and front panels can be opened, giving remarkable access to the underframe for drivers and fitters alike, aiding everything from daily checks to the fitting of snow chains.

Another useful driver aid is hill hold. After the footbrake is released, the coach is held for around four seconds before the brakes are released, unless the accelerator is pressed.

This function shows on the dash when it’s in operation and also announces its presence by a single ‘beep’ when coming to a halt and holding the coach on the footbrake, to let the driver know that hill-hold has started.

Just before the hill-hold releases, a further series of ‘beeps’ alert the driver, to either accelerate or re-apply the footbrake.

At Euro 6 the i6 comes complete with Scania’s C200 telematics system as standard, which allows monitoring of drivers’ behaviour. Operators will receive an email once-a-week detailing fuel consumption and driving style and this service is free for the first year, after which there is a modest charge.

It also means that during the vehicle’s time as a demonstrator, Scania benefits from knowing exactly what it is doing – and where, thanks to the inbuilt tracking system.
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This is the crunch part of the test. The Euro 5 version of the same coach impressed us but the question is, how does the Euro 6 version stack up on the same route?

The two coaches differ slightly. The Euro 5 was a 12.2m 51-seater, while the Euro 6 version is 255cm longer and a 53-seater.

Despite this, at 13,460kg the Euro 6 version is 240kg lighter thanks to weight-saving measures by Irizar. So far, so good.

There is no sense that it drives any differently compared with the Euro 5 version, expect that the extra 100Nm of torque from the Euro 6 version is put to good use by the gearbox software. This means that eighth gear is selected at 50mph (around 1,100rpm), rather than the just before 60mph on the Euro 5 version.

The extra torque paid dividends during the hill climb section, up the lengthy Garrowby Bank, east of York. While the Euro 5 version briefly dropped into third, with a lowest speed of 23mph, the Euro 6 version only dropped to fifth gear with a minimum speed of 32mph. The overall result was a 2min 4secs climb for the Euro 6, compared with 2min 48secs for its predecessor.

On the flat, the story is similar with 0-50mph coming up in 29 seconds, compared with 33 seconds for the Euro 5, although both hit the limiter at 49 seconds.

Our East Yorkshire test route takes us from Scania’s Worksop base to the A1 and north to Tadcaster, for a clockwise trip, returning with a good motorway section. Like the Euro 5 test drive, the day was bright with no wind.

The coach handles very well, with precise steering and does not ‘wander’ at speed, giving the driver total confidence in his machine. Even when pushed hard through corners, the Scania retains its good manners.

However, road conditions were not so good, with two major sets of motorway roadworks bringing us to crawl in almost stationary traffic, plus plenty of farm traffic that hindered progress on single-carriageway roads, and exceptionally heavy traffic in Hull. However, when we overtook a tractor, we found that performance when pushed hard was also good with no lack of power or hesitation.

Therefore, the overall fuel economy of 11.6mpg (at an average of 38mph) was a pleasing result – and on a different day on this route, would have been much better – and compares well with the Euro 5’s average of 11.3mpg. It’s even better when you consider that the Euro 5 coach was run-in, with 32,000km on the clock, but the Euro 6 version had only covered 1,158km. We’d expect better results once it has run-in.

Scania’s fleet management system is fitted to the coach, which gives a raft of data to the operator, and from this we also found that in seventh gear (typical on A roads), the coach returned 12.6mpg on our run, and 13.4mpg on the limiter on motorways. It also shows that its 790-mile run two weeks previously, on delivery from Spain to Worksop, delivered an average of 12.6mpg.

A test run by Scania the previous week, using weights to load it to 15,860kg, took it on a similar route to ours, but heading to Scarborough, Goathland and Whitby. On this though route across the testing North Yorkshire Moors it returned 10.75mpg.

Other aspects of the coach’s performance are good too, with the two-pedal Opticruise automated gearbox always selecting the correct gear, and with shifts that are smooth, quick and unnoticed by passengers, thanks to a total lack of any jerkiness.

The brakes are nicely blended with the retarder on the footbrake, making smooth stops very easy, while the five-stage stalk-controlled retarder provides effective stopping power.
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[tab title=”Verdict & Specs”]
The Scania Irizar combination continues to prove a popular choice with operators, and it’s not hard to see why.

While there is a pill to swallow in terms of a price increase – common across all manufacturers at Euro 6 – the overall outcome, of a lighter coach, with fuel efficiency that’s at least as good as, if not better than Euro 5, plus more torque and better acceleration, is way beyond expectations of the market a couple of years ago.

Add to this the fitter-friendly packaging of the engine bay and any fears about the Euro 6 technology are firmly dispelled by this experience.

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