Test: The new Mercedes-Benz Travego
Jun 17, 2009
Mercedes-Benz Travego: The test coach in detail
  • Fitted with all the very latest safety features
  • Active safety: the world's first coach with Active Brake Assist
  • Patented passive safety: the new Front Collision Guard
  • Clearly laid out cockpit with consummate ease of use
  • Host of standard and optional safety features
  • Powerful, perfectly tuned drivetrain as a safety feature
  • Mercedes PowerShift eight-speed automated transmission
  • Passenger compartment styling with the emphasis on safety and comfort
Safety first – this motto is the key to the Mercedes-Benz Travego. The new Mercedes-Benz Travego Safety Coach embodies this aspiration even from the outside with its signal yellow paintwork and striking decor: the stylised "S" on the sides and the engine flap at the rear stands for safety in the truest sense of the word. At the same time, the shape of the decor symbolises a winding road and, in turn, the Mercedes-Benz Travego's unsurpassed combination of safety and dynamism. For Mercedes-Benz buses and coaches, safety is about much more than simply amassing individual components: behind the Safety Coach lies an integral safety concept.
Fitted with all the very latest safety features
The test coach, a three-axle, 13-metre-long Travego M, sets the standard with its exemplary, unrivalled safety features. Fitted with all the very latest safety features, it justifiably lives up to its name of Safety Coach. And it adds to an illustrious tradition: whether it's the revolutionary first-generation Travego from 1999, the "Travego concept vehicle" five years later or the first Travego Safety Coach in 2006 - the Mercedes-Benz Travego has always defined state-of-the-art touring coach safety.
The superb chassis forms the basis for the high level of active safety on the Travego. The test coach benefits - like all variants of the Travego - from modified front-axle mountings with smoother suspension without compromising track guidance, damping characteristics and steering feedback from the road. The reliable chassis on the three-axle coach also comes with a new trailing axle with independent wheel suspension, which provides benefits in the shape of improved track guidance and smoother suspension characteristics thanks to lower unsprung masses. Standard-fit suspension features on the Travego now also include electronic level control.
The actively steered trailing axle provides the Travego M with unrivalled manoeu­vra­bility: the turning circle is just 21.32 m - a safety benefit that should not be underestimated when tackling mountain passes, embarking on city tours or manoeuvring on tight car parks.
Active safety: the world's first coach with Active Brake Assist
The outstanding active safety of the Travego is due in no small part to its excellent brakes. The Safety Coach - like all Travego coaches - comes with an electronic braking system (EBS). Fade-resistant internally ventilated disc brakes all-round along with electronic brake force distribution form part of the standard specifi­cation. The standard-fit Electronic Stability Program (ESP) features an anti-lock braking system (ABS), acceleration skid control (ASR) and Brake Assist (BA). The Continuous Braking Limiter (DBL) prevents the coach from accelerating above the permitted speed of 100 km/h on steep downhill gradients. The standard speci­fication of every Travego includes a retarder as a wear-free auxiliary brake.
The test coach is fitted with a handy frequent-stop brake, which also provides a start-off assist function. The Travego is the world's first coach to come with the option of the Active Brake Assist. It initiates emergency braking independently following intermittent warnings in response to an acute risk of a rear-end collision with a vehicle in front.
Host of electronic control systems assist the driver
Apart from the powerful, direct braking system, a host of assistance systems in the Travego help prevent dangerous situations and effectively assist the driver if such a situation should occur. The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) prevents - within the bounds of physical possibilities - the vehicle from skidding dangerously by applying the brakes individually to the wheels. The new Active Brake Assist (ABA) can prevent rear-end collisions by means of emergency braking or dramatically reduce the impact speed.
Active Brake Assist is based on the proximity control (ART) system. 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. It then reduces the speed and automatically operates the retarder and the service brake to ensure the vehicle does not fall below a pre-programmed safe distance. The combination of proximity control and Active Brake Assist is thus part of the standard specification of the Travego Safety Coach.
The same applies to the Lane Assistant, which uses a camera to detect when the vehicle is likely to leave its lane. The system continuously monitors the distance between the vehicle and the marker lines at the edge of the lane from a speed of 70 km/h. If the vehicle is about to move out of the lane, the side of the driver's seat concerned starts to vibrate to warn the driver.
Patented passive safety: the new Front Collision Guard
The highlight of passive safety on the Mercedes-Benz Travego is the unique, patented Front Collision Guard (FCG) safety system, which provides effective protection for the driver and co-driver 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 to protect other road users in the event of an accident. 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 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 survival space by several crucial centimetres.
Clearly laid out cockpit with consummate ease of use
Accident prevention is a prime consideration for any vehicle bearing the Mercedes star. Operating and driver-fitness safety are therefore crucial issues at Mercedes-Benz. Awaiting the driver in the Travego is a new-look, user-friendly cockpit. 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 driver can call up a host of relevant information on the colour display of the new instrument cluster using the buttons on the new four-spoke multifunction steering wheel. The display also features stylised side views of the touring coach. Individual sensors immediately draw the driver's attention to flaps or doors that may not have been closed. 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. In the Travego the driver's hands stay firmly on the easy-grip steering wheel – boosting safety even further.
Ergonomically optimised shift lever and controls
The joystick-style shift lever boasts a new shape. What’s more, its installation position has been optimised. The same applies to the permanently-installed navigation screen, the control consoles for the audio and video system as well as for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning, located above the shift lever in the right-hand portion of the instrument panel. Here you will also find the digital tachograph. All the controls are within easy reach and within the driver's direct line of vision - improving operating safety even further.
Host of standard and optional safety features
Further safety features on the new Travego include the cornering light function, a rain/light sensor and long-life LED corner marker lights above the windscreen. The test coach also comes with Litronic headlamps including headlamp cleaning system, heated windscreen, a reversing aid with a visual display in the exterior mirror, a reversing camera with cleaning system, a video monitoring system for the centre entrance, a fire detection system in the engine compartment, around the auxiliary heater and in the main luggage compartment plus a smoke detector in the toilet. The emergency hammers on the window pillars are theft-proof, ensuring they are always to hand in the case of an emergency.
The immobiliser on the Travego helps effectively reduce the risk of theft. A crash recorder logs - along the same lines as a black box on board an aircraft - vehicle data just before an accident, enabling events to be reconstructed afterwards. As well as recording crucial data, fitting the system encourages many drivers to drive carefully on the road. Other equipment includes an emergency mirror that can be fitted on both sides and used in the event of a minor collision.
The Travego assists the driver even after the vehicle has been parked up: 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.
Powerful, perfectly tuned drivetrain as a safety feature
The perfectly tuned drivetrain is another of the safety features on board the Travego Safety Coach. Thanks to its high-torque engine and the automated trans­mission it enables the driver to concentrate fully on the road ahead, particu­larly in difficult driving situations. The engine takes the shape of the six-cylinder in-line Mercedes-Benz OM 457 LA 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 coupled with safety whatever the conditions and, thanks to proven BlueTec engine technology, is also exceptionally economical. The engine complies with Euro 5.
With its harmonious power delivery and impressive pulling power, this engine is ideal for pairing with a long overall ratio. The test coach is fitted with the new Mercedes GO 240-8 PowerShift automated manual transmission and the 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.
Mercedes PowerShift eight-speed automated transmission
The new Mercedes GO 240-8 PowerShift automated eight-speed transmission on the test coach was purpose-developed for bus and coach applications. It not only ensures significantly lower fuel consumption compared with other engine/trans­mission combinations but also represents a welcome safety feature thanks to its attributes.
Generally an automatic transmission will substantially reduce the driver's work­load, enabling him to concentrate more than ever on the actual job of driving. Furthermore, the transmission assists the driver with its progressive gear ratio spread: it makes for precise manoeuvring at inching speed as well as fuel-saving, low rpm at motorway speed. The progressive gear-ratio spread ensures perfect power link-up with all gearchanges. The eight-speed transmission strategy that has been specifically designed for the coach only requires the driver to intervene manually on rare occasions, providing ride comfort on a par with a passenger car.
Passenger compartment styling with the emphasis on safety and comfort
The wide entrances on the Travego with their very flat, nonslip steps (front maxi­mum 175 mm high, in the centre maximum 250 mm) and functional grab rails convey a sense of safety and comfort. The same holds true for the interior lighting including the night light setting. A continuous grab rail on the luggage rack on the left as you look towards the front and integral handles on the sides of the seat backrests provide firm support as you make your way along the coach.
The seating too provides an ideal combination of safety and comfort. The test coach is fitted with 48 Travel Star Xtra passenger seats. This corresponds to a GBK four-star rating - GBK is an association that monitors and classifies levels of comfort in buses and coaches in Germany. The seat and backrest provide firm support for the body and are comfortable at the same time - a sensation enhanced by the soft Luxline upholstery. The buckle on the seat belt is reliably and conveniently integrated into the seat.
The seats are tastefully upholstered in maroon and curry-coloured fabrics, while the curtains come in a matching curry colour. The seat headrests are trimmed in leather, with an easy-care, attractive finish. Folding tables and fabric pockets on the backrests as well as adjustable footrests emphasise the high standard of individual seating comfort in the Travego.
Sophisticated heating and air conditioning
Alongside the important issue of driver-fitness safety, heating and air conditioning essentially involve the closely related issue of driver and passenger well-being. The Travego Safety Coach comes, like all models in its series, with a powerful roof-mounted air conditioning system (32 kW) with an additional individually adjustable air conditioning system for the driver's area (8 kW).
The heating system on the test coach is based on a hot-water convector heater for the passenger compartment, supplemented by axial fans and elbow-level outlets plus an entrance heater at the centre door. Added to which is the separately adjustable heating for the driver's area, the roof heating function provided by the air conditioning and the powerful auxiliary heater.
The refinements on the Travego include roof hatches with automatic closure function triggered by a rain sensor. The driver can therefore air the coach while parked without having to worry about damage caused by a sudden downpour.
Extensive entertainment systems
The extensive entertainment systems on the test coach can meet even the most discerning requirements. Radio, CD and DVD player as well as DVD changer form the basis. Three electrically folding screens with 19-inch screen diagonal ensure all passengers have a perfect view. A 3-D stereo system with additional loudspeakers - featuring an on/off switch - over each twin seat provides a superb sound experience.
As an additional feature, the driver is displayed on the passenger monitors via a camera in the A-pillar when making announcements. Images from the panoramic camera directly behind the front windscreen or the map from the satellite navi­gation system on the test coach can also be displayed on the monitors.
The test coach can also carry a wide range of on-board refreshments. Equipment comprises a galley at the centre entrance, a large chest refrigerator in the front section as well as a refrigerator alongside the WC.
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