Short but sweet Anthem drive

By: Steve Brooks

A look back at our first introduction to the Mack Anthem


A short drive from Mack’s Lehigh Valley plant, the company has a bulldog customer centre and test track.

As far as test tracks go, it’s nothing special or particularly demanding. But on a cold and snowy Pennsylvania afternoon back in early 2018, it was at least a reasonable venue to climb behind the wheel of Anthem for the first time.

Two test units were provided for a few hours – one a day cab, the other a flat-roof sleeper, each powered by a modest 430hp (321kW) version of the MP8 engine coupled to an mDrive transmission, and each towing a loaded flat-top trailer.

Anyway, with Anthem now almost certainly on the cusp of an Australian release, but not knowing when or even if we’ll be invited for an official test drive, it’s probably worth recalling initial thoughts from that US trip.


As reported back then: "Let’s start with the most obvious feature of all: that hood, which, apart from its unique appearance, also uses an innovative locking mechanism behind the lower edge of the grille in place of normal lock-down clamps on the rear corners. What’s more, Mack insiders say the grille design not only enhances aerodynamic efficiency and fuel economy, but also provides ample airflow to further aid cooling capacity."

As for Anthem’s somewhat radical facial features: "While first pictures may have conjured thoughts of a chunky mix of meccano with a touch of Tonka, the consensus among our small group was that it’s a truck which actually looks far better in the flesh. Even appealing, and quintessentially Mack.

"Still, opinions are sure to vary, but there is, of course, much more to Anthem than first meets the eye.

"For the driver, it’s a hugely improved environment with main gauges and instruments ideally sited each side of a central digital information screen, while the layout of control wands and switches for a multitude of current and new functions is neater and vastly more practical than the current outdated design."

While the steering wheel arms hold switches for radio volume, phone and cruise control, "some will find the wheel odd with its straight section near the driver’s waist. Unusual, sure, but also a very clever and effective way of increasing belly room for those with a generous girth, especially the short, stumpy types who need to be up close to the wheel.

"That’s about it, for now."

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