by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

The new Mercedes-Benz Actros: Exterior and cab - Premium truck in peak condition

The new Mercedes-Benz Actros is all about pure excitement: the mindblowing curves and the detailed styling underscore the powerful and dynamic appearance. The centrepiece of the exterior of the new truck from Mannheim is the new distinctive headlights, shaped in the form of letter L. During the testing phase, the cab has undergone intensive testing on computers and in the wind tunnel, for the engineers to find the optimal compromise for ensuring best aerodynamics. The care for efficiency is once more emphasized by certain technical tricks such as the perforated louvres and the temperature-controlled radiator shutter, that collaborate to safeguard the proper functioning of the Blue Efficiency Power diesel engine.

Sophisticated yet not overly fancy, powerful yet not overly aggressive – the unmistakable design of the new Mercedes-Benz Actros is as exceptional as the truck as a whole. The designers of the new Actros have done everything possible whilst sticking to the strict requirements for a commercial vehicle. Form follows function: this especially important design maxim applies to the new Actros, but in this case form and function merge to create an exceptionally balanced design. Function in peak condition: the new Actros arouses passion and emotions.

Design incorporating the Mercedes-Benz brand values

Being a typical Mercedes-Benz, the new Actros is distinctive, durable and dynamic – not only when it comes to technology but also in terms of its looks. The main elements are grouped around the radiator grille, as on Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. Dominated as ever by the Mercedes star.
The design idiom is clear and has a real edge to it, while the design itself incorporates the Mercedes-Benz brand values: safety, reliability, robustness and dynamism. Even if the star were not visible, an observer would be able to identify the new Actros as a Mercedes-Benz. Hallmark features of a Mercedes-Benz truck with its long product lifecycle include the absence of overly fashionable elements in the design idiom. Rather than succumbing to passing trends, the new Actros sets its own trends. It is a long-term investment – but one that is brimming with emotion.
Whilst the new Actros does pick up on the trends of the current Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, it adapts them to the world of commercial vehicles, which has different rules, needs and product lifecycles.

Powerful and dynamic appearance with a smile

The unique design specifically for a long-distance vehicle produces a powerful, masculine and dynamic appearance. Oozing confidence, the Mercedes star is the central feature of the front section. Further prominent features include the V-shaped radiator grille with sportily perforated louvres, while the flank-encompassing swage line sharpens the vehicle's side contours.

Despite its powerful appearance, the new Actros still wears a smile. This part of the look is optimistically gentle, and the distinctive V‑shape of the louvres in the radiator grille tapers off upwards almost imperceptibly. At the front end, the face of the new Actros dispenses almost entirely with straight lines and flat surfaces. Curves along with contrasting concave and convex lines lend the new Actros an overriding aura of excitement and its own unique character. Hence the previous visual distinction between the upper and lower sections of the cab is gone, meaning that the cab now appears to be cast from a single mould.

At the same time, the positively styled, large grille contrasts with the opposed form of the smaller grille at the bottom. Together with the powerfully contoured corner bumpers, it lends the new Actros a confident, road-hugging appearance.

Meticulously designed right down to the last detail

The precise and detailed design of the new Actros also embodies the new truck's high quality. By way of example, the radiator grille overlaps the side components and the bumper centre section, so there is therefore no disruptive joint visible at this point. Other joints have deliberately been made part of the design, such as the slender joints beside and above the headlamps, which are integrated into the basic form of the new Actros.

This design quality is both consistent and practical: the corner panelling, for instance, does not look like it has been added on, rather it is perfectly integrated into the shape of the vehicle. The centre section of the bumper forms a step, while the raised roof protrudes a few centimetres forwards to enhance both stowage capacity and aerodynamics.

Distinctive headlamps are the "eyes" of the new Actros

Further hallmark features of the new Actros include the headlamps –its "eyes". Their shape resembles that of a boomerang, encapsulating the radiator grille. Main and dipped beam as well as the indicators and the daytime driving lights are integrated in the casing. As an option, the Actros can be equipped with bi-xenon headlamps. The optionally available fog lamps, the cornering light function and the daytime driving lights (optionally available in LED format with a chain of five LEDs) are integrated in the front apron.

The follow-me-home lighting illuminates the way ahead for the driver, even after he or she leaves the cab. What's more, when the driver is returning "home" to the Actros, the lights can be switched on remotely. An illuminated Mercedes star in the radiator grille makes the driver and truck stand out from other drivers and trucks. New features include optional LED tail lights. LED technology is also used for the position marker lamps in the roof and in the interior. LED lights not only look attractive, they also consume very little energy when illuminated and have an exceptionally long service life.

Harmonious lines give the new Actros "flow"

The coherent form of the new Actros is particularly evident when viewed at an angle, as the full extent of the harmonious flow between the front section and the flanks can then be seen. The bumper, door wind deflector and entrance merge seamlessly into one another to form a single unit. Fluid lines are a hallmark feature of the new Actros, which is why designers often talk about "flow".

One particularly prominent feature at the side is the door, which is drawn deeply downwards to enhance aerodynamics and safety. It largely covers the entrance. The optional side panelling for the semitrailer tractor blends in harmoniously with the cab and the wheel arch, its almost sporty form continuing the powerful lines of the new Actros rearwards.

Modular design suitable for all the cab variants

Given the large number of cab variants, the new Actros has a modular design. Whether 2.5 or 2.3 metres wide, whether the cab has an engine tunnel or not, and whether a flat roof, extra-high roof or one of the roof variants in between is fitted, the appearance remains coherent and harmonious, while the proportions are always just right. Quality, however, is not just reflected in the shape or in the narrow and sometimes even invisible joints: the new Actros also boasts outstanding build quality and high-quality materials. The fully galvanised cab, for instance, consists of high-strength panels.

Excellent aerodynamic design of the new Actros saves fuel

One of the top priorities during development of the new Actros was aerodynamics, in this case a special blend of the designers' flair and the engineers' know-how. This extensive development has paid off: good aerodynamic design reduces fuel consumption on the road, helps to preserve the environment and saves the operator lots of money straight away. The new Actros spent 2600 hours in the wind tunnel, equivalent to more than 100 days in a row. Never before has a truck been developed and tested so intensively in a wind tunnel. As a result, the aerodynamic design of the new Actros is one of the major factors behind the lower fuel consumption compared to its already highly economical predecessor.

However, in the case of aerodynamics in particular, conflicting requirements have to be met. The pronounced slant of the windscreen, for instance, improves both aerodynamics and fuel consumption. At the same time, however, it reduces the room available inside the cab, so stowage space and movement are restricted. Following extensive testing in the wind tunnel, the developers were able to find a solution that met both sets of requirements: the windscreen is tilted by an angle of 15 degrees to improve aerodynamics; and the larger Actros BigSpace and Actros GigaSpace cabs have an aerodynamic nose, thus creating the room required inside for a record level of spaciousness and a correspondingly large stowage area.

Cab shape has undergone intensive testing on computers and in the wind tunnel

The cab shape underwent intensive testing both on computers and in the wind tunnel. The corner panelling at the front left and right diverts the airflow at the cab edges around the cab so as to reduce dirt build-up and also lower the wind resistance. A similar function is performed by the wind deflectors on the roof of the new Actros, which are even available for bodies up to 4.6 metres in height. The cab side deflectors have likewise been optimised in the wind tunnel.

Perforated louvres, temperature-controlled radiator shutter

As well as looking good, the perforated louvres in the radiator grille of the new Actros increase the airflow. The on-demand cooling system features temperature-sensitive control of the radiator shutters: if a large amount of cooling air is required, they are opened for maximum airflow; when demand for air is lower, they are closed to optimise aerodynamics.

The door extensions largely cover the cab entrance. On the one hand, this design enhances safety. On the other, it improves aerodynamics, as turbulence is prevented.

Attractive panelling optimises aerodynamics

Side panelling between the semitrailer tractor's axles not only looks impressive, it also improves aerodynamics. Alternatively, this space can be taken up by tanks available in cross-sections up to the vehicle width of 2.55 metres.

The underbody panelling for the semitrailer tractors even directs the airflow under the vehicle. What's more, the aerodynamics specialists at Mercedes-Benz Trucks have even optimised the spray guards in the wheel arches to reduce wind resistance.

Source: Daimler AG

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