Trial drive presentation of Travego Edition 1: the world's first series production bus which meets the Euro VI emissions standard
Apr 23, 2012
Test track in Rheingau – on the road with the Mercedes-Benz Travego Edition 1: Euro VI engine with a lot of drive, a transmission with flair and an overview of operations
  • Identifiable by newly positioned ventilation grille
  • Clearly arranged instruments, no gearshift lever
  • Practical crawl function for manoeuvring
  • Engine with strong start, fast and easy-to-operate transmission
  • Well-adjusted chassis, engine with a lot of drive
  • Steer, brake, accelerate – the Travego Edition 1 does everything else
A strong and economical Euro VI engine, a fast and easy-to-operate transmission, perfect instruments and operation – one just has to try out the Mercedes-Benz Travego Edition 1.
Identifiable by newly positioned ventilation grilles
Innovations can be detected just by taking a stroll round the Travego Edition 1 before driving off. Keen observers will discover the LED daytime running lamps in the headlamp housings as well as the engine flaps in front of the front axle – up to now the fuel and AdBlue tanks were positioned over the rear axles of the three-axle vehicle.
The new ventilation grille positioned on the right behind the second rear axle catches the eye more easily, as do the two vents on the newly-designed engine flap. On the other hand there is only a small vent to be seen at the rear on the left. That makes it quite clear – the radiator has changed over to the right-hand side, the three-axle high-deck coach Travego Edition 1 has been designed for emissions level Euro VI.
Clearly arranged instruments, no gearshift lever
When getting into this high-deck coach you have your first surprise: its brand new instrument panel. It has retained its basic curved shape, but the control instruments are new. It doesn't matter who is sitting behind the steering wheel – everything is in just the right place with nothing to obstruct the view of the clearly-designed round instruments. The sets of buttons to the left and right of the steering wheel are neatly arranged and divided into clear groups of four.
The joystick-type gearshift lever which used to be typical for the Travego has disappeared and in its place there is a steering column lever on the right. How to operate the controls is clear at first glance and self-explanatory. As with automatic transmission the letters D – N – R stand for basic transmission functions, the position M for manual operation – if by chance the new fully-automatic Mercedes GO 250-8 transmission should need any intervention at all. As usual, the retarder brake is operated by pulling the five-stage lever down.
Start the engine by pressing a button
Starting the engine is unfamiliar: insert the electronic ignition key into the opening on the left of the steering wheel and then simply press the starter button to start the ignition. The dial needles on the speedometer and rpm counter swing rapidly to the end position and back again – and the Travego wakes up. Pressing the button once more starts the engine. It holds back modestly both now as well as during the journey. Six cylinder inline engines specially designed with Common Rail injection are well known for their smooth running characteristics.
The multifunctional buttons on the new steering wheel arouse one's curiosity. It pays to try them out and click through the stages. It is easy to understand how the numerous functions in the trip information computer are arranged as well as the other information in the so-called stack and maps.
Practical crawl function for manoeuvring
One last glance to check the mirror for a final readjustment before manoeuvring round the hotel car park at the edge of the small town of Eltville in Rheingau, and then the crawl function supports the forwards and reverse modes just like with automatic transmission. There is no need to use the accelerator, just relax – only the brake pedal is used to control the speed.
It is only when you leave the town on the narrow road that it is clear just what this new engine is capable of: superior acceleration due to 350 kW (476 hp) output and 2 300 Nm torque developed with 12.8 litres.
Engine with strong start, fast and easy-to-operate transmission
The powerful engine does not need any high rpm's even for high acceleration. Even when driven at full throttle, the automatic transmission changes up to the next gear at about 1 400 rpm, surprisingly quickly and almost without losing any tractive power and virtually unnoticeably. Depending on the situation, the following speed even lies just under 1 000 rpm, but that does not disturb the engine's tractive power.
Now, after turning left twice, drive quickly into the traffic flow onto the B 42 in the direction of Wiesbaden. The situa­tion is a bit dicey as the accelerating lane is in the centre of the road. But the fully automatic drivetrain and the strong engine can be relied on so that all your concentration can focus on the traffic. After accelerating briefly, the Travego Edition 1 runs along in the stream of traffic with no effort whatsoever.
Joining dual carriageways
Soon the road turns into a dual carriageway, now it is time to use the Autonomous Intelligent Cruise Control of the top Travego model. After accelerating and overtaking following delays in the traffic, the high-deck coach gets up to its travelling speed in no time at all. At 80 km/h the Travego rolls along with its standard axle gear ratio of i=3,909 easily with 1 000 rpm in eighth gear. At 100 km/h it has about 1 300 rpm.
On reaching the wine town of Walluf, the coach changes from the B 42 to the B 230 towards Bad Schwalbach. When changing lanes on the slip road and onto the changeover, braking with the retarder is all that is needed, it lowers the speed quickly and the lever slips in precisely. Immediately afterwards, the new drivetrain is able to show what it is capable of as the road now leads up into the Taunus hills.
The Travego Edition 1 drives easily through the village of Martinsthal at 50 km/h in sixth gear. The transmission uses the engine's tractive power cleverly. On the way out of the village, the Travego Edition 1 accelerates quickly and almost unnoticeably for a short time into fifth gear. After a short time it rolls up a slight hill at 80 km/h in eighth gear with 1 000 rpm.
The strong engine does not need high engine speeds
The road-builders provided a second lane on the steep uphill stretch where there is a turnoff to Schlangenbad. Here, if overtaking, you would expect to use the kickdown by treading hard on the pedal past the clearly noticeable resistance point. Yet you can save yourself the trouble: under normal conditions the strong engine does not need high revs.
The highway turns out to be an ideal route for a coach outing: it winds out of the pretty Rhine valley into the hills. The road is part of the German “Bäderstraße” (chain of bathing resorts), a popular tourist attraction. The B 230 takes us past delightful spots such as the Mill Museum or the Taunus Wunderland Pleasure Park.
Well-balanced suspension, engine with bite
On this section with its many bends, the fine adjustment of the undercarriage shows its worth: the Travego Edition 1 reacts with precision to every turn of the steering wheel and obeys every movement promptly and exactly, so that the big coach handles easily. The new rear engine providing high performance between 1 000 and 1 500 rpm is dynamic and powerful. The reaction speed of the new gear-box is particularly obvious on gradients: not even the most skilled of drivers could do faster manual gear changes.
After Wambach the road becomes hilly. At the second set of traffic lights we turn right towards Bad Schwalbach. After Bad Schwalbach the newly tarred, good-quality road winds like a mountain pass. To adjust the driving speed, all the driver needs is the powerful retarder with its particularly high standard of performance and responsiveness.
Steer, brake, accelerate – the Travego Edition 1 will handle everything else
In Bad Schwalbach the road feeds into the B 275 highway. This leads us out of the village again on the other side via a steep, roughly ten percent gradient. The road is narrow and busy, and oncoming traffic requires good vision and at times slows the bus down.
What a good thing that the technology takes over, dealing with hill starts and changing to the right gear smartly despite slalom manoeuvres and varying speeds. With a manual gear change, many a top driver would be at the limit of his or her capabilities. At 40 km/h in fourth gear and 1 400 rpm, the Travego Edition 1 effortlessly leaves the village.
Up on the plateau this road now joins the B 260. At the traffic lights we turn left and downhill again, heading for Eltville.
The uphill drive we accomplished on the way out has now, on the return, become an easy downhill run. On the approach to Wambach, heavy goods vehicles have to keep to a 30 km/h speed limit due to the long downward slope. The Travego Edition 1 can roll freely, and with the aid of the retarder can confidently roll downhill in seventh gear. Entering Wambach, the speed restriction is 40 km/h and radar speed cameras are in operation.
As we leave the village, at a narrow spot plus a bend, the uphill-bound traffic forces the Travego to a halt. Here again the driver is the boss and the automatic transmission does the tedious work.
Tight spot mastered perfectly
Midpoint Wildsauplatz in Martinsthal: at this busy narrow spot next to the B 260 highway, skilful driving is called for, with parked cars and drivers impatient to get through. The other drivers pay little consideration to the Travego Edition 1. But no problem: the Mercedes-Benz top model and the driver have long become a well-practised, perfectly coordinated team.
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