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A Work Horse in Spanish fire – On the road with the New MAN TGX D38

121 years have passed since Rudolf Diesel developed the engine design that is still named after him today. And it is still going strong: with the new D38 engine Diesel’s heirs at MAN have shown what a modern diesel engine can do in 2014. A test drive in the MAN TGX D38.

You need about 04:04 minutes to read this article.

Displacement of 15.2 litres. Depending on the engines stage of extension 640 hp and a maximum torque of 3,000 Newton metres.
For car drivers these are dream numbers. However, the scales are different here. For the MAN D38 is a workhorse: for thousands of truck drivers in the future, a partner in everyday life, a working colleague.

But even for a truck engine, the new MAN unit’s specifications are impressive. Especially for someone like me. The sort of person who has only ever driven passenger cars on the road, even though I grew up as the son of a haulier. My childhood was marked by vehicles whose HP numbers seemed to be in proportion with their yearly mileage. I didn’t follow in my father’s footsteps – as a car journalist I spend my time with vehicles of a rather smaller scale.

And yet, suddenly I’m standing here. At eight clock in the morning in the middle of the mercilessly blazing sun in the south of Spain. The historic La Alhambra shimmers before me in the hot air, towering over the city of Granada.
I and a dozen other international journalists are here to test the new MAN TGX D38.

The whole thing begins on the grounds of the „Feria de Muestras de Armilla Granada“ – the exhibition centre of the historic city of Granada. Eleven MAN trucks are waiting for us, ranging from a dump truck to an articulated truck.

The trucks faced the sun, lined up like a guard of honour with hearts of lions.
I’m excited. Fired up with what lies ahead of me. Over the next two days I and my colleagues from around the world will tot up about 600 km with the new MAN TGX D38. And all that even before the official premiere of the Lion diesel engine.

The new engine is a small masterpiece of engineering. The MAN D38’s six cylinders deliver almost limitless power. The maximum tourque is available already at 930 to 1,350 rpm.
I get into a MAN TGX 35.560 8×4-4 BL with 560 PS.

Just what this potential power can do on poor ground, I find out for for myself in a gravel-pit.
The high temperature in Padul not only provides a lot of dust on the MAN dump truck, but also an ideal site to test the traction of the new vehicles.

With seemingly limitless, but always controllable, power, the MAN pulls itself effortlessly through the challenging terrain. At the side of the test ground, Dr. Ulrich Wiebicke, Senior Testing Manager at MAN Motorenbau, described the latest generation of engines. The MAN engineers have incorporated a great deal from their own history of engine design into the new D38. This experience goes back at least 121 years – to the time Rudolf Diesel was already building his first engines in the Augsburg Machine factory, the factory which even today is still represented by the first two letters in the company name MAN. However, a lot of new ideas have gone into the engine as well. In many cases these are just small innovations, but they have a big outcome in the new engine. For example, MAN has incorporated burper valves in a truck diesel engine for the first time; the top-down cooling system is also new. The only savings made in the development of the engine have been in its weight: the new D38 engine is 160 kg lighter than its predecessor, the D28 V8, and consequently its 15.2 litre displacement has lower consumption and produces reliable performance on demand.

But MAN is always convincing.
Fedor Lapshin, a Russian colleague from Autoreview comments wistfully: „A fantastic machine, a fantastic engine.“ „It’s a shame that we will have to wait for it to come to Russia.“
However, waiting is something the German driver will have to suffer too. The new generation of engines will be launched at the IAA in Hannover. That is where the new MAN engine will celebrate its big public debut.

To Hannover from here is 2,470 km.
For now, however, we content ourselves with just a bit of that marathon. Having tested the the new MAN TGX D38’s ability to conquer the gravel pit, the trucks return to the road.
On this first day, we drive these traction kings for around 260 km under the sweltering heat of southern Spain.
As a small child I grew up with trucks. In addition to their power, one other thing was always important: efficiency and the safe arrival of the driver, truck and load.
This is just what MAN has tried to achieve for the driver with new assistance systems and other facilities. However, now it’s time for the second report of the MAN tour – because on day 2, we are switching to the Long Haul-MAN. More about this in two days!

Read Part 2: A real mountain lion – on the road with the new MAN TGX D38