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Doing the math: DAF CF85 on-road test


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Steve Brooks, Trade Trucks AU  /  April 6, 2017

DAF displayed the smooth, quiet manners you’d expect for a European truck and showed ample determination on the couple of pinches around the Mt Cotton circuit

With European trucks it’s quite often the next rung down the ladder from the flagship where you’ll find the sweetest spot in the model line-up.

Less sheet metal and big horsepower makes for a nimble around town and regional hauler that makes ergonomic sense in multi-drop roles. And B-double capability is also a plus.

The DAF CF85 is one of these vehicles, away from the towering XF105 cab at the top of the range. The CF represents performance and versatility in a number of roles.

It stood out like a cowboy in clogs but Paccar Australia had good reason to take a DAF CF85 model to Mt Cotton recently for test-drives alongside its new Kenworth T610.

The CF85 is justifiably regarded by some Paccar people as the most appealing model in the DAF range and more to the point perhaps, the model with the greatest potential to deliver the company’s long-held hope of the Dutch truck climbing to a higher rung on Australia’s heavy-duty sales ladder.

DAF is, after all, a major player on the European truck scene and widely acknowledged as one of the most fuel-efficient trucks in the business.

Still, the Australian market is proving a hard nut to crack with DAF recording 2.9 percent of the heavy-duty sector in 2016 on the delivery of 285 units. In the medium-duty class it notched 34 sales.

Yet there is a new emphasis and effort to do better and adding significantly more sting to the CF85’s appeal is the recent introduction of a 510hp version of the 12.9-litre MX engine.

It is, of course, much the same engine used in Kenworth’s T409 range but until now peak outputs in the CF85 were limited to 460hp and 1700lb-ft of torque.

However, the engine known as the MX 375 delivers 510hp (375kW) from 1500 to 1900rpm and a much healthier torque peak of 1850lb-ft (2500 Nm) between 1000 and 1410rpm.

Coupled to the engine is the 16-speed version of ZF’s AS-Tronic automated transmission; while on the options list is Eaton’s RTLO-20918 18-speed overdrive manual.

On the test track, towing a flat-top trailer loaded with concrete blocks, the DAF displayed the smooth, quiet manners you’d expect for a European truck and showed ample determination on the couple of pinches around the Mt Cotton circuit.

But for a more ‘real world’ assessment, we’ve just taken the 510hp CF85 on a 600-kilometre run through Victoria’s Yarra Valley and north through the foothills of the Victorian Alps.

The DAF brand is high on the shopping list of European operators, especially in the UK where it’s a perennial sales leader. We wanted to know what the attraction was.

As a regional hauler amongst the vineyards and produce crops we wanted to see just how well this revitalised Dutchman coped with the ups and downs of country work.

The CF85-510 may just be the ticket for those wanting a versatile prime mover that hides a horsepower bite under its conservative continental cab.




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