Touring the Heartland with Mack Trucks

By: Matt Wood

We catch up with Mack Trucks to take its flagship Super-Liner for a spin.

Touring the Heartland with Mack Trucks
Mack is touring Australia to showcase its Super-Liner, Trident and Granite prime movers.


Mack Trucks has been running its Heartland Tour the last couple of months, a cavalcade around Australia from dealer to dealer to showcase the heavy duty Super-Liner, Trident and Granite models.

The Mack brand does indeed have a heartland in the Australian interior. And the dog on the bonnet resonates with those who work in places where blowflies and bulldust proliferate and civilisation is a satellite phone call away.

But for a brand that also has its roots in the vocational sector, models like the Granite and Metroliner also feature highly in the Aussie market. And both models can regularly be seen carving through the hurley-burley of capital city traffic on any given day of the week.

We caught up with the convoy at Townsville in Queensland and took the opportunity to drive the various models as the tour headed for the town of Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tableland.

The Mack line-up included a 685hp, MP10 powered Super-Liner hauling a loaded B-double combination on its back. An MP8 Granite prime mover, a Trident prime mover and a couple of tippers rounded out the convoy.

Also tagging along for the ride was Mack the Transporter.

The Super-Liner certainly made a visual impact parked out front of the Townsville dealership. The big black beast sat glistening in the sun as we pulled up.

The Super-Liner has found favour with more and more B-double operators in recent times who are taking advantage of the extra grunt on tap from the 16-litre engine. The 535hp Trident is capable of the same job but in my past experience I’ve found the MP8 a little light on power for heavy double work.

As luck would have it, the big dog was going to be my first drive of the day. This was the first time that I’d driven the Super-Liner as a double. Before this I’d only driven it in double road train and single trailer guise.

The common cab superstructure of the Mack line-up means that there’s little difference inside all of these trucks. The lack of an integrated sleeper also means the sleeper-equipped prime movers still have a day cab feel from the driver’s seat.

A twist of the ignition key fired the Mack into life and it was only a matter of hitting the right button on the mDrive gear selector to convince the 16-litre donk to get the drive wheels turning. The mDrive automated transmission has quickly gained acceptance among Australian operators.

It’s Volvo I-shift heritage means it’s a smooth shifting and decisive box. And as I rolled out of Townsville it behaved exactly as I’d expect it to, especially with a load on its back.

The MP10 emitted a satisfying rumble as I got up to speed on the open road. There’s a faint torque thrum through the cab when the engine is digging its claws into the asphalt. The Super-Liner remains a comfortable and relatively quiet steed even when it is working hard.

Our first stop saw me ejected from the flagship in favour of a day cab Granite prime mover.

Jumping between trucks across the Mack range is an easy ask as they’re all pretty much the same to operate.

The 500hp MP8 may be a step down from the 16-litre Super-Liner but with a partially loaded display trailer on its back the round town runner had no performance issues as we got rolling again. 

Of all the Mack range the Trident is the model I’ve spent the most time with. And to my mind it makes a very civilised single trailer hauler.

The Trident and Granite tippers that were along for the ride were empty, so needless to say that without dog trailers on the back both trucks performed and handled like sports cars.

The Heartland Tour proved to be an excellent opportunity to get behind the wheel of the majority of the Mack range. Though the Super-Liner gets my vote any day of the week.

You can read the full story in the October edition of Owner//Driver.

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