Truck test: Cat Trucks CT630S bonneted B-double

Truck test: Cat Trucks CT630S bonneted B-double
Cat CT630S

Cat Trucks is planning to release its much-anticipated bonneted B-double prime mover, the CT630S, in the first half of 2014.

The S features short bumper-to-back-of-cab measurements of 138 inches for the sleeper, and 112 inches for the day-cab version.

This puts the S model firmly within the 26m 34-pallet B-double envelope and gives Cat a viable contender in the potentially lucrative B-double and line-haul market.

Under the bonnet the CT630S uses the same 15-litre Cat C15 ACERT engine as its CT630 and CT630LS stable mates.

This last incarnation of the venerable Cat engine puts out 550hp (410kW) and 1,850lb/ft (2,508Nm) of torque while still meeting ADR80/03 (Euro 5) emissions without using either exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) or selective catalytic reduction (SCR).

Instead the C15 uses twin diesel particulate filters (DPF) under the chassis that use passive regeneration from engine operating temperature to clear the DPF of particulate.

There are currently two CT630S engineering evaluation units on the road in this country and we managed to get access to one of these trucks, clocking up 3,500km over four days.

My trip took me from Melbourne to Brisbane and back in a real world setting, with a real load in both directions. This gave me a chance to really get a handle on the new Australian platform.

The S is an Australian platform – 80 per cent of the design and engineering work has been carried out locally, though the model is still based on the Navistar Prostar.

Engine wise, the C15 performed as expected. If you’re a Cat fan you’ll appreciate the lazy lug-down nature of the yellow engine.

In today’s heavy duty truck market, this engine is as old school as it gets in terms of performance and even in terms of exhaust note.

The Newell Highway is a rough choppy mess in parts, but that’s something to be expected from highways Australia wide.

The S had already notched up 82,000km and surprisingly there wasn’t a rattle or squeak emanating from the plastic interior. The current extended sleeper cab is a bit cosy for full time line-haul at this stage, but does make for a good line-haul shuttle vehicle.

The high roll stiffness of the Hendrickson Primaax rear suspension made for a bit of lateral kick on rough surfaces and this kept me steering out of bumps for a while.

The journey wasn’t all smooth sailing though. An insect-clogged charge-air cooler saw me come to a stop south of Gilgandra. Raised exhaust temperatures had put the engine into limp mode.

The transport gods then conspired to keep things interesting when in quick succession two boost clamps blew off.

The Westrac Dubbo team got me mobile again, however, and I was soon able to continue the trip. Once mixing it with the urban traffic, the strengths of the S model in terms of visibility and manoeuvrability really shone through. Easy is the term that springs to mind first – easy to drive, easy to operate and easy to live with.

Check out the January edition of Owner//Driver for the full story on Cat's CT630S. Click here to secure your copy.

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