Used Setra still stakes claim to top-line touring

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Setra, the premium German marque left the UK and Irish market for new coaches some time ago, but in the used sector it is still a contender. Tim Deakin tries a mid-life S416GT-HD, one of 30 at EvoBus (UK)

30-strong batch of used coaches are all 13m, tri-axle Setra S416GT-HDs

Setra has long been considered the coach industry’s equivalent of Rolls Royce: A premium builder that delivers one of the finest products in the market.

For UK buyers, a new Setra is no longer an option, but used is a different matter, and that’s where EvoBus (UK) comes in.

The Coventry-based importer was responsible for sales and support of the Setra range in the UK and Ireland until its right-hand drive discontinuation at Euro 6, and it currently has available a number of ex-lease Euro 5 tri-axle S416GT-HD models dating from 2010.

They recently returned from a seven-year tenure with a large coach holiday operator, and they may represent an attractive option to buyers in the market for a mid-life coach that has plenty of life left in it on a variety of work.

Around 30 examples of the 13m S416GT-HD are for sale, and more will follow in coming years. The majority of this year’s batch carry 52 passengers, but some have 48 seats; all have centre sunken toilets, and they show a maximum of 680,000km on the odometer.

They are available to buy (for £82,000 on a straight deal), and also under five-year hire purchase and operating lease plans via Mercedes-Benz Finance.

In the latter case, with an annual limit of 100,000km, the monthly cost is £1,205, while hire purchase is £1,450 per month with a VAT deposit; higher or lower annual mileage limits can be negotiated and part-exchanges will be considered by the dealer.

“Apart from seating capacities, after repaint the only difference between the coaches is the colour of the interior,” says Director Mercedes-Benz Sales Marcus Watts. “Part of the second-life operating lease agreement is a repaint into white, although if more than one colour is required we can arrange that and reflect it in the monthly payment.”

As part of the return conditions agreed by the coaches’ previous operator, the Setras will be free from damage when supplied to the next user. They also come with a specified minimum tyre tread depth and all casings are from European manufacturers.

Manual-lifting luggage bay doors conceal substantial space, and bunk

The coaches have done seven years’ work exclusively on tours – so what are they like, and are they worth a look?

Build

As returned to EvoBus (UK), the S416GT-HDs are in either blue or bronze. The test coach carries the former colour and it is yet to be repainted into white.

It was first registered in April 2010 and has covered 647,000km. The odd blemish is evident on the bodywork, but that will be dealt with as part of the relivery process.

Alcoa Dura-Bright alloy wheels are fitted and they are in good condition, as are the tyres; sidewall damage is absent and one casing is almost new.

The remaining seven each have a good amount of tread remaining and the shoulders on the tag axle’s tyres are in excellent condition thanks to its active steering function.

Like the other members of its batch, the test coach is powered by a Euro 5, 12-litre OM 457 engine. It develops 422bhp and 2,100Nm of torque, transmitted to the road by an eight-speed Mercedes-Benz Powershift automated gearbox.

Manually-operated parallel-lift luggage bay doors are fitted and the underfloor bay is large, although the sunken toilet occupies space, as does a driver’s bunk. Fuel and AdBlue both go in at the offside rear.

As suggested by its type descriptor, S416GT-HD is a high-deck coach at 3.68m tall. It is 13.02m long and 2.55m wide.

Seats remain in good condition for a coach that has covered 647,000km

Passenger access

The door opening is wide, as are the steps, and the courier seat – despite not being the slimmest – is located such that it does not intrude into stairwell space.

Four steps lead to the platform, followed by two more into the sunken gangway. In the latter area, the lower step also forms a top-loading compartment that can be used to store smaller items, and that means that the lid may be lifted by passengers’ feet.

The handrail arrangement around the door is good and it is similar to that seen on the current-day Tourismo.

A large bar on the left rises to dash height before turning 90 degrees to the horizontal, and an angled rail is on the bottom of the courier seat.

A sunken gangway leads along the coach. It does not increase in height until the extreme rear, where a further step is required to clear the engine.

Seats all have grab handles at both upper corners, while taller passengers may find the luggage racks useful for steadying themselves when moving around the coach. The racks have no internal bracing, and so the lip is unobstructed for their whole length.

Passenger comfort

All of the Setras in this batch are ComfortClass models, and they come with a high level of passenger amenities. The first to become noticeable is the wood-effect flooring. It is fitted throughout, including on the platform, although that beneath the seats and within the entry steps is covered in removable black carpet.

Test coach has 52 seats and a toilet; if WC removed, will increase to 55

Seats are finished in two-tone grey fabric with leather headrest inserts, and they come with lap belts, drop-down tables and footrests.

The test coach carries 52 passengers thanks to its four-across rear seat. As would be expected, that gives good legroom, and it should be even better on a 48-seater.

While the toilet is not demountable, it can be removed entirely. Coupled with the addition of a five-across arrangement at the rear, that would allow a maximum of 55 seats if capacity was the priority, although EvoBus (UK) is aware of one operator that has taken coaches from this batch and converted them itself to 70-seaters with a flat gangway.

A comprehensive climate control system is fitted that utilises roof-mounted air-conditioning and perimeter radiators, and a twin-screen DVD player is also part of the package. Both monitors are fixed. A fridge is in the dash.

Seats are in generally good condition, although they show signs of the seven years’ service that they have already put in.

Much the same can be said for the remainder of the saloon, although as these coaches have been used exclusively on holiday work, they are by no means in need of significant work. Indeed, were a specialist retrimmer or refurbisher utilised, there is no doubt that as-new condition could be regained relatively simply and cheaply.

Driver comfort

Like the passeneger area, the cab is what would be expected of a mid-life Setra. It is well-appointed, and when the mileage that the coach has covered is taken into account, it is in very good condition. EvoBus (UK) also guarantees that all switches, buttons and other functions will work on coaches dispatched for their second lives.

Cab is in good condition for a seven-year old coach, everything works

The driver’s seat is from Grammer and it has all the usual comforts. As is a quirk of the Setra and Mercedes-Benz range, it is located slightly more centrally than in other manufacturers’ coaches.

What that means is that the amount of room around it is excellent. A bag can be stored both behind and to the right of the seat, and the seat positioning helps to give the cab a very airy feel.

That perception is furthered by the glazing arrangement; the S416GT-HD has the same large one-piece signalling window of the current Tourismo and it allows a great deal of natural light to enter. The glass there is also heated and electrically lowered.

Twin powered windscreen sunblinds are fitted, while the gullwing mirrors are powered and they give an excellent view along both sides of the coach. A deep windscreen and extensive door glazing also help visibility.

Drivers benefit from a stereo that is independent to the saloon’s, and the cab has its own climate control system.

As is typical for coaches from the Daimler stable, the dash is a wrap-round type, and it gives rise to the effect of sitting at a desk. As a result, alll switches are easily to hand, and the only control below the signalling window is the handbrake.

Performance

The OM 457 engine is the predecessor of the OM 470, used in the Tourismo at Euro 6. They share a lot in terms of the manner of torque delivery, namely the superb pulling power available at low engine speeds.

That is taken into account by the Powershift transmission. At the limited speed, the engine is turning at just 1,150rpm in top gear, and that will no doubt have played a part in the 12mpg fuel return claimed by the previous operator.

The test coach has not yet been treated to a repaint in all-over white

Gearchanges are made quickly and without hesitation, although control was not wonderful when slowing to walking pace on a traffic light-controlled roundabout; here, third was held without slipping the clutch, giving a slightly clunky takeoff.

A very simple yet effective combined cruise control and variable speed limiter is fitted. Less obvious is how to select forward, neutral or reverse; unlike later models with stalk-mounted controls, these coaches have a button-equipped gearstick of sorts.

Roadholding is good, and despite the coach’s height, an almost 16-tonne unladen weight keeps it stuck firmly to the tarmac. Braking is helped by a five-stage retarder. The latter is part of the cruise control/speed limiter stalk, and it is very powerful indeed.

Verdict

As tested, the coach is suitable for a variety of further work. A potential upseating to 55 would give a multitude of uses, but an equally viable second life is a continuation as a tourer.

Comparatively little would be required for it to remain in this role. A repaint and perhaps the addition of an ageless registration, along with a retrim if the buyer sees the need, would give a coach that could be mistaken for one a lot newer than it really is, while the driveline’s on-going durability should be beyond question.

EvoBus (UK) also makes the coaches as attractive as possible financially. Besides the option to buy, hire purchase and operating lease packages add to the possibilities, and the dealership can also arrange any cosmetic work that the next operator may require.

The test coach is a good bet; it has been looked after and even in as-is condition it presents an attractive environment to the passenger. It also drives nicely, and it retains the typical Setra road presence. Couple that to the rest of the package and it’s an attractive proposition.