At first sight, it might seem like overdoing things to talk of truck styling. Cross the aesthetic sound barrier that separates styling from design, though, and things look very different. At that point there’s nothing odd about the fact that as perceptive a manufacturer as Mercedes has identified looks and design as the key to the revamp of its Actros heavy duty range. And as the German firm’s management points out, the result is a truck that has become the sector benchmark.

The project launched in mid-1999 was completed by the end of 2000. Mercedes began by inviting six rival designers to come up with ideas. Then, once the winning approach had been selected, they set up a team of 14 designers and modellers, putting Oliver Stick in charge of exterior design and Frank Pfisterer at the heart of the interior development process.

Both the standard and high cab versions of the interior share the same functional, ergonomically efficient trim. The symmetrical dashboard features wide scoops before the driver and passenger seats on each side of a protruding central section.

All the controls are distributed in a way that makes them easy to identify and use, as are the big instrument dials.

And when night falls, there’s room for two big comfortable bunks behind the seats: the bottom bunk fitted with a spring mattress, the top one with a foam one.

No problem either, when the weather turns nasty. Whether manual or automatic the climate control system is powerful with intelligently distributed blowers so that thirty complete air changes an hour are guaranteed.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 137

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