Review: Ashok Leyland 3120
Ashok Leyland 3120 – termed the ‘Sankagiri Express’ was launched in the 2nd Quarter of 2013 bolstering its line-up of 31-Ton rigid trucks. With this heavy duty, power packed 3120 version, Ashok Leyland hopes to thump its superiority over its competition in the 31-Ton segment. How does it fare, read on.
Design & Structure
The 3120 includes a robust design familiar to its siblings with strong chassis frame, supported by a rigid suspension system that gives the driver the advantage of carrying payloads on any terrain. Continuing with its trend, Ashok Leyland has included Twin Steerable front axles in the 3120. The benefits of the steerable axles are obvious with reduced swept path, reduced tyre wear, increase maneuverability and an overall increased GVW capability.
The long wheelbase on the ‘Sankagiri Express’ supports a bigger loading span, making it profitable for the owner. When coupled with the Twin Steerable axles, the 3120 may actually be able to bear a considerable rear-overhang – something that we see prominently in India. The cowl-chassis format can be easily adapted for many body options according to the customer needs.
The forged “I” beam Reverse Elliot type axles with spring suspensions are now a standard feature in most Indian Trucks. The chassis bridge on 3120 amply supports all its components plus cargo body with payload. The semi-elliptic spring sported is a widely popular component these days. The semi elliptic springs not only act as a spring to resiliently support the vehicle, but also serves the important functions of positioning the axles and of cushioning both driving torque and brake reaction. All of these promise a smoother handling and better driveablity experience for the ‘Sankagiri Express’.
Under the Hood
The 3120 is packed with a 5.3 Litre, newly built NEPTUNE engine, delivering Power (of 205 HP) with effective Torque (max.780 Nm). The contemporary Neptune engines have been designed and developed in-house with technical assistance from AVL – an Austrian powertrain and combustion expert design house. 3120 sports the smaller of the two Neptune variants – 4 cylinders with an all electronic Bosch’s 3rd Generation Common Rail Systems CRS3-18. Varying fuel qualities in India are a challenge for every injection system but BOSCH’s robust piezo-actuators of CRS3-18 injectors promise to negate that variance. The BOSCH peizo actuators deliver 10 times the power of a traditional Solenoid, thus making it less susceptible to fuel contamination. Reduced hydraulic flow rate ensure reduced emissions and combustion noise. The Neptune has a 112 mm bore and 135mm stroke with 4-valve single overhead camshaft, unique top down cooling, wet liner with top end cooling and a noise optimized design. The unique trussed block allows peak firing pressures of 220 bar. The Neptune comes with cooled Exhaust Gas Re-circulation (EGR) meeting BSIV emission standards with an option to either upgrade to BS V or re-engineer to BS III with minimal changes.
The 3120 comes in manual transmission with a Ceramic Clutch system. Ceramic Clutches are known to endure more heat than Organic counterparts and are best suited for high-performance applications. But the longevity of the Ceramic clutch is solely dependent on your driving habits. If you drive on-the-clutch, expect it to wear much faster as it shudders and chatters with engagement in subsequent usages.
The 3120 Gearbox leaves us wondering why Ashok Leyland chose to incorporate only 6-speeds? With the 205 HP and 780Nm torque we expected a 8-9 speed gearbox (as is the case with its immediate competitors). A 8-9 speed gearbox would have ensured closely spaced gear ratios, better fuel efficiency, higher speeds and a fine tuned power delivery. Naysayers may advocate that trucks on indian roads seldom ply beyond 90-100km/h and higher gears are effectively useless but we feel the 6-speeds are inadequate for the deserving Neptune engine on 3120.
Moving on, the 3120 has a standard Air brake system but with no option of ABS/EBD. ABS/EBD is a standard safety feature and should have been included in the 3120 repertoire.
Due to its longer Wheelbase, the 3120 has a higher turning radius. The 3120 has a good fuel efficiency, with the Bosch Common Rail fuel system, which is a rarity for the segment. The 3120 comes with Radial tyres as standard fitment providing much needed safety and stability at high speeds in absence of the ABS. The uprated spring suspension at front sets up the 3120 for long distance haulage.