DAF CF85-510's engine review

By: Steve Brooks

The engine has done an incredible job for DAF and Kenworth, and increasingly it is becoming a prominent factor in everything Paccar does across the globe


Vitally, DAF has also been the design and technology platform for Paccar’s hugely successful push with the MX engine range into North America.

As we’ve previously reported, at the end of last year there were more than 135,000 MX engines powering Kenworth and Peterbilt models across the length and breadth of North America.

Check out our video and read the full review of DAF CF85-510

Obviously enough, it’s a different story in our neck of the woods, where DAF has struggled to even partially emulate its European experience.

Despite repeated assurances from Paccar’s local leaders that the continental cab-over is on the cusp of a brighter future, the brand has hung tenaciously to the lower levels of the heavy-duty sales charts. 

That said, though, market stats are now indicating the first hints of a turning tide and, critically, a smarter mindset highlighted by a 510hp CF85 model configured to specific market segments rather than trying to be all things to all people.

Check out our video of Steve Brooks test-driving DAF CF85-510 in Victoria’s high country

And those segments are the metro and regional applications where the current 460hp version of the MX-13 engine already does a respectable job but lacks the firepower to seriously challenge for a regular spot in the burgeoning short-haul and regional B-double business.

Or, for that matter, those single-trailer and truck-and-dog duties where 500-plus is increasingly preferred.

 The heart of DAF CF85-510 - Paccar's MX-13 engine
The heart of DAF CF85-510 - Paccar's MX-13 engine

As DAF Trucks Australia general manager Rob Griffin said recently: "The CF85 at its 460hp rating is DAF’s best seller but the industry has a psyche around 500hp and that’s where the 510 rating under the CF cab opens up new market segments to DAF."

A realist in every sense, Rob Griffin is intently confident the 510 rating will carve new business for DAF, but he’s equally intent it won’t be at any cost.

Griffin, like many others, has long believed the majority of the Dutch truck’s dilemmas – and its subsequent reputation – were spawned by a ‘one truck fits all’ mentality which saw various versions sold into applications that were simply too onerous for the available specification.

That’s why, he insists, the flagship XF105 will continue to be DAF’s line-haul specialist while the uprated CF85, with its comfortable yet considerably lower cab, will essentially target metro and regional work, even though both models now share the 510hp rating.

Still, an adamant Rob Griffin knows it won’t be easy. He takes nothing for granted and gives no suggestion of reaching for the unreachable.

It is, after all, a market segment packed with high-quality continental contenders from the likes of Volvo, Scania and a renewed Mercedes-Benz. 

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