Test: The new Mercedes-Benz Travego
Stuttgart
Jun 17, 2009
The new Mercedes-Benz Travego
  • New Active Brake Assist actively helps prevent rear-end collisions
  • New: Front Collision Guard passive safety system
  • Travego sets safety standards with a host of details
  • All-new cockpit design geared even more towards the driver
  • Six-cylinder in-line engine with additional output rating
  • New: Mercedes PowerShift eight-speed automated transmission
  • Chassis: new trailing axle with independent wheel suspension
  • New interior, monitors with 19-inch screen diagonal
Safety is the most important of the Mercedes-Benz brand values. And, as such, safety lies at the heart of the new-generation Mercedes-Benz Travego high-deck touring coach, which marks the world premiere of the Active Brake Assist (ABA) system in the bus and coach sector. Further new equipment for the Travego includes the patented Front Collision Guard (FCG) passive safety system, which provides effective protection for the driver and co-driver in the event of a frontal impact. Plus there are other new safety features such as the cornering light function, a rain/light sensor, long-life LED corner marker lights above the wind­screen and a trailing axle with independent wheel suspension for the three-axle models. Awaiting the driver is a new-look, user-friendly cockpit. As an option, the OM 457 LA six-cylinder in-line engine can be ordered with a new, higher output rating of 335 kW (456 hp). Further special equipment available for the latest incar­nation of the Travego includes the new Mercedes GO 240-8 PowerShift eight-speed automated transmission. All of which makes this particular Mercedes-Benz one of the most attractive high-deck touring coaches ever seen.
New Active Brake Assist actively helps prevent rear-end collisions
Active Brake Assist has won a number of awards and, more importantly, actively helps prevent rear-end collisions. It can therefore save lives. Since it was launched in the Mercedes-Benz Actros heavy-duty truck in 2006, Active Brake Assist has proven a resounding success, having clocked up a combined total of more than 350 million kilometres on the road for our customers. Now it is set to celebrate its world premiere in the bus and coach sector - in the new-generation Mercedes-Benz Travego. If Active Brake Assist detects an acute risk of a rear-end collision with a slower-moving vehicle in front, it initiates emergency braking following inter­mittent warnings. If the coach comes to a stop during emergency braking, the hazard warning lights are automatically activated.
Active Brake Assist is based on the proximity control (ART) system, which has been available as an option for the Mercedes-Benz Travego for several years. It uses the proximity control radar sensor which, in turn, is able to detect obstacles moving within a defined range in front of the vehicle by means of its three radar beams. The distance to and the relative speed of the vehicle in front are monitored and assessed on a permanent basis.
If the traffic situation remains unchanged and there is a risk of a collision, a progressive series of warnings comes into play. Firstly the driver receives a visual warning in the shape of an illuminated red triangle with the outline of a vehicle on the instrument panel along with an audible alarm signal. If the risk of a collision becomes more acute, partial braking is initiated. The technology used in this instance takes account of the occupants on board by increasing the braking pressure smoothly. If the driver fails to respond, the system finally applies the full braking power of its own accord. If proximity control is ordered, Active Brake Assist is included at no extra cost.
Reduction in collision speed and accident severity
Although Active Brake Assist cannot always prevent accidents, the application of the brakes with full power can at least significantly reduce the collision speed and, therefore, the severity of the accident.
The system uses a series of progressive warnings to alert the driver in advance, allowing the driver to then manoeuvre the vehicle or apply the brakes, if possible, in order to avoid a collision. Even though rear-end collisions are not the most frequent type of accident involving buses and coaches, they are among the most serious. The developers expect Active Brake Assist to bring about a reduction in the number of these accidents involving fatalities or serious injuries. During develop­ment of this system, the focus was on ensuring protection for other road users as well as for the vehicle occupants. Active Brake Assist for buses and coaches sees Mercedes-Benz taking a further step towards realising its vision of accident-free driving.
New: Front Collision Guard passive safety system
The same applies to numerous other innovations that feature in the new-generation Travego. Front Collision Guard (FCG) is a unique, passive safety system designed to protect the driver and tour guide in the event of a frontal impact. The Front Collision Guard comprises a complex safety system. Its components include a trans­verse section which acts as an underride guard for the protection of other road users and can prevent a car, for example, from driving underneath the vehicle. Behind this section is a structure consisting of crash elements, which absorb energy in a predetermined manner in the event of an impact
In addition, the driver's area in the Travego - including the steering, pedals and seat - is now mounted on a solid frame section that can slide backwards in its en­tire­ty in the event of a serious frontal impact and, therefore, increase the driver’s space by several crucial centimetres. As well as testing the effect of the Front Collision Guard system using computer simulations, the developers have also put it through its paces in several crash tests under real-life conditions. The FCG also complies with future statutory standards for bus and coach pendulum impact tests. Together with Active Brake Assist, which can reduce the collision speed dramati­cally in the event of an unavoidable frontal collision, the FCG provides the driver and tour guide with an unparalleled high standard of safety.
Travego sets safety standards with a host of details
A wealth of other details enhances the exemplary level of safety provided by the Mercedes-Benz Travego even further. The new cornering light function is activated at speeds under 40 km/h once the indicator has been set and the steering turned. In this case the inner fog lamp illuminates the road to one side ahead of the vehicle with its large beam width.
The new rain/light sensor activates the windscreen wipers when they are needed and also selects a suitable wipe interval and wipe speed. Additionally, the sensor switches on the headlamps if the light outside is poor. This function is active when the light switch is in position "A" (Automatic).
Further safety aspects include the use of LEDs as corner marker lights above the windscreen. These LEDs are designed to last for the life of the vehicle, making it practically impossible to inadvertently drive off without the prescribed lights. Previously Travego models have already featured LED side marker lights. After the driver leaves the Travego and activates the central locking, the new "follow‑me‑­home" light function and the fog lamps illuminate the area in front of the vehicle for several seconds to help them find their way safely.
The face of the Travego: restyled front bumper
The introduction of the new-generation Mercedes-Benz Travego marked a series of subtle changes to the exterior. For example the front end has been extended by 40 mm due to the Front Collision Guard. The Travego is instantly recognisable by its new front bumper with a prominent swage line and a distinctive recess at the position of the number plate. The form of the new-look bumper corners and the newly designed, integral fog lamps emphasise the Travego's dynamism.
A bonded windscreen further adds to the elegance of the Travego’s front end, eliminating the need for the rubber-strip surround. In addition, the bonded screen helps to further reduce wind noise and improve aerodynamics.
All-new cockpit design geared even more towards the driver
Whereas the previous Travego cockpit incorporating a joystick-style gearshift marked a milestone in the design of the driver's area in buses and coaches, the cockpit for the new-generation Travego marks a further major step forwards. It boasts an all-new design, geared even more towards the driver, along with a series of curved and rounded forms that make for an exceptionally ergonomic workplace offering maximum appeal. The instrument panel, centre console and area in front of the tour guide's seat with an integral refrigerator appear to merge together seam­lessly whilst the cockpit as a whole now gives an even stronger impression of completeness and outstanding quality.
The instrument panel is positioned centrally within the driver's field of vision. Both the speedometer and the rev counter are large dial-type gauges sporting a 3-D look and chrome surrounds. They flank a large colour display on which a vast range of data – from fluid and air levels to trip-computer information – can be shown. It is operated via buttons on the new four-spoke multifunction steering wheel. Naviga­ting the menus is easy and intuitive, as in Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. Similar­ly, the telephone, hands-free system and basic functions of the audio system can be operated almost effortlessly using the buttons on the steering wheel. An easy-grip leather steering wheel is part of the standard specification.
Ergonomically optimised shift lever and controls
The joystick-style shift lever boasts a new shape and is trimmed with a chrome ring. What's more, its installation position has been ergonomically optimised. Above the shift lever, positioned directly in the driver's field of vision on the right-hand side of the instrument panel, there is a permanently-installed navigation screen.
The control consoles for the audio and video system, heating, ventilation and air conditioning are now located at the top of the centre console, while the digital tacho­graph, positioned within easy reach of the driver and in their direct line of vision, can also be found here. All of the control buttons have been moved to their optimum positions as part of the new design. These changes mean that there is now even more stowage space available at the bottom of the centre console with its new, curved design.
Six-cylinder in-line engine with additional output rating
The new-generation Travego also incorporates an optimised drivetrain with a perfectly matched combination of engine, transmission and drive axle supplied from a single source. An additional engine variant has been added to the line-up in the shape of the Mercedes-Benz OM 457 LA six-cylinder in-line unit with a dis­place­ment of 12.0 litres, an output of 335 kW (456 hp) and impressive torque of 2200 Nm at 1100 rpm. This powerplant ensures effortless performance under all conditions and, thanks to proven BlueTec engine technology, is also exceptionally economical. It can be ordered as a Euro 5 version.
With its harmonious power delivery and impressive pulling power, this engine is ideal for pairing with a long overall ratio. Hence the Travego is equipped with the new Mercedes GO 240-8 PowerShift automated manual transmission and a standard axle ratio of i=3.909 at the motorway speed of 100 km/h at just 1300 rpm. All of which minimises fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, cutting noise levels even further in the process.
New: Mercedes eight-speed automated transmission
The new Mercedes GO 240-8 PowerShift automated eight-speed transmission has been purpose-developed for installation in buses and coaches, making it the only specialist bus and coach transmission in its performance class, reflected by an extremely compact and lightweight design. What's more, the dimensions of the transmission's aluminium housing are identical to those of the six-speed manual transmission, which is still available, making installation much easier. There is no need for a clutch pedal with this transmission. With comparable performance, use of the PowerShift transmission on typical routes brings about a significant reduction in fuel consumption compared to a vehicle fitted with one of the more conventional automated transmissions available on the market.
Ideal ratio spread thanks to progressive gear-ratio steps
With eight speeds and a progressive gear-ratio spread (1st-gear ratio 6.57, 8th
gear 0.63), the transmission covers the entire spectrum from precise manoeuvring at inching speed to low and fuel-saving rpm at motorway speed. In contrast to other transmissions in this performance class, the GO 240-8 PowerShift transmission's gear-ratio steps are progressive, ensuring near-perfect power link-up both when upshifting to accelerate and when downshifting on uphill inclines.
Second gear is used as the starting gear on the flat. The transmission ratios have been optimised to suit bus and coach operation, meaning that it is not normally necessary to skip gears. The gear changes themselves are smooth and swift whilst the transmission's control unit responds quickly to changes in topography or load requirements.
Easy to use, with manual mode if required
The automated transmission is extremely easy to use. Usually the driver will opt for automatic mode, although they can intervene manually at any time simply by nudging the shift lever forwards or backwards. In this case, the transmission remains in automatic mode. Pushing the shift lever to the left is all that it takes to engage manual mode, enabling the driver to change gear whenever required by nudging the lever, providing this is technically feasible.
Wide choice of engines and transmissions
The new-generation Travego features the same proven drivetrain components as its predecessor. As before, the OM 457 LA engine with a displacement of 12.0 litres, an output of 315 kW (428 hp) and a peak torque of 2100 Nm now comes as standard. Additionally there is the Mercedes-Benz OM 457 LA 6-cylinder in-line engine with a displacement of 12.0 litres, 335 kW (456 hp) and a torque of 2200 Nm. There is also the option of the OM 502 LA V8 powerplant with a displace­ment of 15.9 litres, an output of 350 kW (476 hp) and a maximum torque 2100 Nm, should extra power be needed. All of the engines are available as a Euro 5 version.
As for the transmission, the Travego comes as standard with a six-speed manual unit in the shape of the GO 210-6 or GO 230-6 with joystick-style gearshift. Special equipment includes the new Mercedes GO 240-8 PowerShift eight-speed automated transmission. Meanwhile, the economical and quiet-running Mercedes‑Benz HO6 hypoid rear axle comes with a choice of ratios, allowing a perfect drivetrain configuration every time.
Chassis: new trailing axle with independent wheel suspension
Major new features have also been incorporated into the chassis for the new-generation Mercedes-Benz Travego. Here too, the Travego sets new standards in terms of comfort and handling dynamics. One of the focal points of the three-axle models is the new trailing axle with independent wheel suspension, whose advan­tages include improved track guidance, smoother suspension characteristics thanks to lower unsprung masses, extra installation space and a design that is around 150-kg lighter due in part to the axle design and electronic control of the still hydraulically actively steered axle.
All variants of the Travego benefit from modified front-axle mountings that are even more effective at preventing thumping noises. What's more, the axle is more smoothly sprung yet loses none of its edge in terms of track guidance or damping properties. And the familiar direct road feel provided by the steering remains intact. Standard equipment for the Travego now also includes electronic level control.
New interior, monitors with 19-inch screen diagonal
The new-generation Mercedes-Benz Travego is more comfortable than ever, not least thanks to large monitors with a 19-inch screen diagonal, which afford passengers an unhindered view of films or television programmes from any seat. In addition to this, the ceiling and the luggage racks have been redesigned to further boost their visual appeal and reduce their weight.
The model year 2009 range
Like its forerunner, the range of new-generation Travego models comprises three high-deck touring coaches: the Travego (two axles, 12.18-metres long), the Travego M (three axles, 13.0-metres long) and the Travego L (three axles, 14.03-metres long).
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