Exclusive test: RoadStars drive the new Actros while it's still being developed


Test drivers.

The new Actros is the first to include the expertise of real RoadStars. Before the premiere, 19 community members put the freight flagship through a thorough test.

It's a sunny morning in May and RoadStar Christopher just can't wait. The 33-year-old driver is taking part in a RoadStars event for the very first time. "I'm an absolute Mercedes fan. That's why I joined RoadStars about two years ago.

I'm also registered with my driver's licence number so I don't miss any exclusive driving events ever again. I check the homepage almost every day." Christopher has been a professional truck driver since 2001. Today he is one of a total of 19 participants in the RoadStars test drive event.

Impulses for the developers.

"This is a great opportunity to contribute towards the development of new trucks," Christopher explains. "Some of us know each other already from events like the RoadStars trophy qualification," Uwe explains. "I'm really looking forward to getting a glimpse of the new technology, together with old colleagues and new friends." The 49-year-old RoadStar has been a truck driver since 1989 and is currently driving an Actros 1844 tipper semitrailer.

The RoadStars test drive event was held at the Mercedes-Benz works in Wörth in May 2017. At that time, many systems of the new Actros were still at the pre-series stage. So it was all the more important for the engineers and developers at Mercedes-Benz Trucks to get feedback from real RoadStars.

A tight test schedule.

Developer Dirk and his seven workmates accompany the 19 eager test drivers through their tight schedule. Some of the trucks stand out straight away because they are different from the models that Christopher, Uwe and all the others are familiar with from their driving experience. "The exterior mirrors are missing! That's amazing!" says Christopher excitedly. And all the others can't wait to be allowed to climb into the cab, which looks so different from what they're used to with its primary and multi-touch display. After a good half hour of instructions about the new systems MirrorCam and Active Drive Assist, the teams leave the grounds and start their test programme. This consists, among other things, of tricky manoeuvring exercises and long trips in everyday traffic on motorways and major roads. After just over an hour the drivers change places. The test drives go on for the whole morning.

Experiencing the future.

In the afternoon, the drivers sit down together and tell the Mercedes-Benz engineers all about their impressions of the new technology. "Comparing notes with the other drivers and developers here is the highlight of the day, along with the legendary experience of driving with the new Actros systems," Christopher says. The group discussions finish in early afternoon and all the participants set off for a factory tour lasting an hour and a half. In the late afternoon, somewhat tired but full of unique experiences, the plucky test drivers leave the premises. There's one thing that Christopher and all the others are definite about: "It was a fabulous day. We'll be back!"

Photos: Alex Kraus