The new Hyundai Xcient, the all new South Korean prime mover, is a strong performer from the driver’s seat. In terms of driver ergonomics, it works well. all of the controls are easy to access and effective when needed.
The dashboard uses the very familiar European wraparound style and different aspects of the design can be seen to be influenced by Volvo, Scania, Mercedes-Benz, MAN and DAF. Altogether this truck has the look of a European prime mover and wouldn’t be out of place pulling a single trailer down an autobahn somewhere in Germany.
There is a good collection of buttons on the steering wheel, very reminiscent of those on the Volvo. In use, they are effective and the driver can soon learn to handle highway driving by clicking between cruise control options.
The right hand control on the steering column controls the retarder and toggles between manual and auto on the AMT. Below this, and in a fixed position, is the AMT lever to switch between drive, reverse and neutral. This is also where we find the two slow speed manoeuvring options for both forward and reverse. It is possible to inch the prime mover under a trailer without hitting the kingpin too hard.
The E-roll function on the transmission proves to be pretty effective and will disengage clutch when it registers that the truck is able to maintain its current speed without further input of torque from the engine. The rpm levels drop to 500 and stay there until the truck slows or speeds up, or the driver touches any of the controls. This option can be turned on and off, but leaving it on all of the time will save fuel without any detrimental effects.
Sitting in this cabin, rolling through the Queensland countryside, the visibility is excellent all-round with a good well-placed mirrors. The windows are large enough and set low enough to maximise the visible area around the truck. Again, it is not the best, but it is certainly not the worst either.
The driver’s seat is comfortable with a good array of controls available to make the driver comfortable. Unfortunately, the seatbelt is fixed to the be B pillar and this does not compare well with just about every other heavy duty prime mover on the Australian Market, where integrated seatbelts seem to have become the norm.
The cab suspension could probably do with being a little stiffer as there can be a tendency for the cabin to sway or nod and little bit too much on some of the rougher road surfaces this truck is likely to encounter here in Australia.
This model has been sold in considerable numbers in Russia and other Eastern European countries. The conditions in those regions are not renowned for being easy on. trucks, so Hyundai does have some experience in dealing with tough conditions.
The question which comes to mind is about how well the whole package can adapt to life in the unrelenting Australian truck market. Judging by the finish on this first model the Koreans have done their homework and are prepared to take on Australia.
Another issue to think about is how well Hyundai can adapt the basic design from its domestic market to suit the requirements of Australian truck buyers. The current wheelbase on offer is classified as a 4950 mm, the dimension between the centre of the steer axle and the centre of the rear axle can be important for issues like weight distribution.
What we can say is that this is a commendable effort for a first entry into a very competitive and unforgiving market. Hyundai have a lot to learn but are starting from a strong position. This first model will be the flagship of the new range. we can expect the models which should follow to fit into new niches like the heavy rigid and day cab prime mover market. Diesel wouldn’t be surprised to see a few examples to start popping up in the fleet of fleets hauling out of the wharves and specialising in intrastate semi work.