The day the music died: Reviewing the quiet Freightliner Argosy
Matt Wood takes the new Argosy for a test drive to find out where the traditonal music went
No one can tell me when elevators stopped playing music.
There was a time when piped muzak soothed passengers travelling between floors in hotels and office buildings everywhere.
Rather than awkwardly clearing one’s throat to cover a gurgling stomach, or staring intensely at a smartphone to avoid uncomfortable silent eye contact, people could close their eyes and bask in the soothing tones of regurgitated instrumental renditions of Lionel Richie’s greatest hits.
You could even hum along if you wanted. But, no more.
Now Freightliner has killed the music – the squeaky soundtrack that has long been the accompaniment to a long drive in a cab-over Argosy.
I must admit, I was sceptical.
I’ve travelled over 800,000 kilometres in Argosys and long ago accepted that the dash will squeak, the cupboards will rattle and things will occasionally fall off.
There’s been quite a bit of speculation on the future of the cab-over Freightliner of late.
Yet, Daimler Australia states emphatically that the Argosy isn’t departing anytime soon.
While Australia and New Zealand are now the only markets that buy the Argosy, the tooling required to build the Freightliner has well and truly been paid for by now.
One Freightliner source even went so far as to say that the Argosy platform will cope with Euro 6 if, and when, it arrives.
Filling in the gaps
So to back this up, Freightliner has just made the Argosy available with the Cummins ISXe5 engine, a new multimedia system that incorporates a blind spot camera and, it seems, no rattles.
Not only that, the famous, or infamous, swing out step has also been strengthened.
The key to hushing the Argosy’s chatter has been to disassemble the interlocking dash panels on arrival in Oz and insert sound deadening material between them.
This not only makes for a tighter fit it also removes the chirp.
As for the cupboard clatter, Freightliner has removed the offending doors completely and replaced them with elasticised netting.
If you happen to be attached to the idea of doors however, they do remain an option.
Testing the change
Of course I wasn’t going to believe Daimler’s outlandish claims without seeing for myself.
So I fronted up to Mulgrave HQ to spend a few hours behind the wheel of the cab-over contender and experience it for real.
My red Argosy was fitted the aforementioned ISXe5 and also with an 18-speed Eaton UltraShift Plus AMT to keep the gear ratios shuffling.
The rear end used a 4.33:1 ratio, and on the back was a loaded B-double set that gave me a gross weight of about 59-tonnes.
Our route took us down to Leongatha, through the rolling hills of South Gippsland, across to Morwell in the LaTrobe valley and back to Melbourne on the freeway.
There should’ve been enough lumps and bumps along the way to elicit at least some sort of rattle going inside the Freightliner.
But, as it turns out there wasn’t.
I will admit that this Argosy only had 2,000km on the clock, but seeing as every Argosy I’ve driven in the past has rattled from new I reckon that’s no mean feat.
The e5 was still a little green with so few kilometres on the clock, but it hauled along well.
Probably what stood out the most with the driveline, however, was the performance of the Eaton AMT.
This one had the latest iteration of software on board and for the most part I didn’t have to intervene too much in its operation.
I got to test out the clutch engagement of the trans under load as I had to reverse around a couple of corners to get out of the yard – the AMT is getting better all the time.
The SmartShift paddle set up that Freightliner uses is by far the most intuitive UltraShift installation that I’ve come across.
It makes manual intervention very easy.
As the road condition deteriorated though I couldn’t believe just how rattle free the cab was inside.
The optional touch screen Parrot infotainment and multimedia unit was also a good thing.
Aside from the usual Bluetooth streaming functions, it also displays text messages.
Which makes ignoring the boss a little harder.
But it’s most significant function is, in my book, displaying the view down the left hand side of the vehicle via a blind spot camera.
The left hand side of the Argosy has long housed quite a significant blind spot.
In the past this has been countered by a blind spot mirror mounted above the passenger side door.
The camera displays the view whenever the left hand indicator is turned on, and it’s a much better solution.
If I had a tasty enough hat I’d have to sit down and eat it because Freightliner seems to have achieved something that I didn’t think possible.
The Argosy is now quieter, sturdier and easier to see out of.
And I can now listen to Lionel Ritchie dance on the ceiling without blowing the speakers.