…Or trying out mods for realism…
The MAN TGX… What do I think? Visually, this truck is imposing and yet avoids being intimidating. I think that paradox is achieved by some very smart styling. MAN took the simple look of the TGA and refined it; smoothing the corners and removing any remaining appearance of a grill. The corner aero pieces were incorporated even more into the overall appearance too. The truck is probably the smoothest looking of any and lacks the plethora of holes and gouges that are to be found on the front of the Scania – for example. That I find this design approach pleasing is clear. Others will prefer the appearance of a DAF or a Volvo maybe. The key thing is that the real world appearance of the MAN TGX has been captured in the game very well.
Stepping into the cab, the interior presents a well-proportioned dash that retains and refines the positive features that I enjoyed in the TGA. Less commonly used controls and displays (cabin heating for example) have been moved to a lower panel and out of the driver’s eye-line so that the key instruments are the only ones in prime location. This leaves room for a console mounted GPS to be fitted if you opt for the ‘Exclusive’ interior. I started out with the standard version and upgraded after a few journeys. The seating looks very comfortable and I’d guess it is. The cab is roomy and light – still looking smaller than the FLB in American Truck Sim but probably the closest of the European truck cabs in size to that rather hairy beast.
Looking forwards, I get the impression that the slight rounding of the cab has reduced the windscreen area a little, especially height-wise. Normally, that will not be a problem as all the important action should be on the road in front – at least one would hope so! The driver-side mirrors are great but trying to see if the road is clear to change lanes on the near-side at night is hard work – especially as using TrackIR I’m having to turn my head rather than swivel my eyes! I suspect that is a game-mechanic thing; I’m sure it must be better in real life – Any real world truckers out there who also play ETS2 may be able to shed some light on this.
Chassis – here we hit the area of much debate which goes on both among virtual and real truckers. You can have 4×2, 6×2, Midlift, Taglift and 6×4. There’s probably a couple more options that I have not listed. To explain a little: –
4×2 = 2 axles, one of them powered; 6×2 = 3 axles, one of them powered (with both front axles steering in some cases); 6×4 = 3 axles, two of them powered. All of these are rigid chassis.
Midlift and Taglift are both 6×2 chassis (occasionally 6×4 in the case of the Taglift) in which one axle can be lifted clear of the road if the legal axle weight limits can be adhered to – thus reducing tyre and chassis wear.
The chassis debate centres around traction and stability for the different types. Generally speaking 3 axle chassis’ are more stable on motorways whilst a 2 axle chassis is better on the soft roads where grip is more important than a smooth ride – a Taglift makes the truck a short wheelbase 4×2. I’ve seen some amusing arguments from very engaged people in this debate. It never occurred to me that Tag-lifting was ‘Gay’! There’s nothing quite like informed discussion is there 😉 Joking aside, I understand the arguments regarding traction vs ride and tyre-wear. In ETS2 I find that most of my driving is on main roads. I rarely venture into quarries and building sites. With that in mind I went and did that most basic form of research – watching the trucks going along the A406! It was just like doing a project I did at primary school although, back then, the trucks were Foden’s ERF’s and Atkinson’s. I remember still the massive Tate & Lyle sugar tankers in their dark regal blue and gold livery rumbling past. Anyway, I digress – the purpose was to determine what the commonest arrangement of chassis was passing on a standard main road in the UK. It was a fairly even split between 4×2 and 6X2 Midlift chassis. Midlift’s outnumbered Taglifts by nearly 3 to 1. 6×4’s were very rare. So – my choice based on a scientific piece of research was a 6×2 Midlift for myTGX. It seems a lot more stable than the 4×2 that I had on the TGA and hopefully I’m saving a little on maintenance too – although I have read the humorous comment that a lifting axle is just an expensive set of spare tyres 😉
One other piece of debate centred around turning circles and difficulty parking trailers with a Midlift compared with a Taglift. This one seems to be confined to Euro truck circles rather than the wider truck driver community. Driving a Midlift hasn’t caused me any parking issues. I turned up at a delivery point a couple of trips ago to find that the turning area available when I came in was shorter than the combined length of truck and trailer. The solution was simply to use some space outside of the parking area to turn the truck around and do a blind-side reverse park. If they’re concerned about the turning circle of the 6×2 Midlift for parking, heaven help them when they try the Kenworth W900L or B in ATS 😉
Engines and Gearbox – I mentioned the fact that there is a real transmission mod available for the TGX in my review of the TGA. I started out with that and chose the Manual 16sp box with retarder attached to the 440HP MAN Engine. Something didn’t appear right about the rev-counter with this combination – more research needed. Now there’s a mod that corrects the rev-counter in the TGX because it is wrong! Ok – that’s a start. But I also found some figures regards the engine. Best Torque is available from 1000rpm to 1600 – Best Horse Power kicks in at 1500 and runs up to 1900. So that suggests that the whole ‘green arc’ on the rev counter can be used during acceleration. This is a fascinating subject and I suspect I will be doing a lot more research – it’s very reminiscent of the HP vs Tractive Effort debates in the days of Steam vs Diesel! And to complicate matters more – there’s another new MAN drivetrain mod just available, so I’m trying that one too. What I think about those ‘transmission’ mods will have to wait for another post. What I will say is that both of them give the more realistic 16sp manual gearbox and give better engine sounds than the standard in-game version.
Despite the ongoing mod investigations, I really like the TGX for her looks, driving position and general handling in the game. I hope my employee Jan likes the TGX too because I just gave him a brand-new 4×2 one to drive and cascaded the TGA to new employee Magnus. I had a hard time thinking of a name for this truck but she has become ‘Unter den Linden’ – a reference to the famous avenue in Berlin and to the golden colour of Lime trees in the autumn (There’s one outside my house).
Postscript – A young cyclist was killed in Kensington earlier this week by a MAN TGX, just outside where my Wife works. My thoughts have been with the family in the tragic circumstances. Even when we only drive virtual trucks we still have a responsibility to encourage safe driving. I’ve learnt through the game that trucks have a plethora of blind spots which mirrors can only partly exacerbate. Other road users need to be aware of that. Equally as someone who was for many years a cyclist to and from work, I feel a need to express concern about the behaviour of cyclists today too. Running red lights and ignoring pedestrian crossings is not clever. Car drivers need to be much more aware of how long it takes a truck or a cyclist to stop – too often not enough road is left for trucker/cyclist. And all of us should refrain from using phones out there on the highway 😦 There are no winners in road safety, only victims. Can we all please exercise a bit more care on the road and show more respect for all the road users and pedestrians around us.