While the Kenworth K108 might be the current king of the road in terms of linehaul operations, there is a new challenger to the throne from within Kenworth’s ranks. The new K200, revealed exclusively to transport journalists in Alice Springs last week before its public launch, builds on the core elements of the K108 and offers them in a refined package. While the new model does not go on sale until April 1 next year – when the K108 will be retired – Kenworth is taking the opportunity to launch the new model now, with fleet testing of ‘seed models’ beginning in September. The new cab over, complete with Cummins ISX engine and a choice of Eaton manual or the Ultrashift Plus auto transmission, is rated to over 600 horsepower, yet is able to meet the stringent new ADR 80/03 emission regulations. While the model on display at Alice Springs retains the infamous ‘up and across’ entry to the cab, sales and marketing manager Andrew Hadjikakou says the final version will “have some changes” in this area, with rumours persisting of swing out steps similar to the Freightliner Argosy.
While the basic shape is similar to the K108, in reality the new model is 50mm higher, with the extra space accommodating a refined engine cooling package to deal with the demands of ADR 80/03. Under the skin is a new charge air cooler, moulded fan shroud and a nine-blade fan, all working on reducing heat stress on the engine, while revised auxiliary coolers are relocated to reduce shadowing, where airflow is prevented from reaching the coolers. Drivers will also appreciate the additional heat and noise shielding between the cab floor and the engine bay, which is expected to make the K200 the quietest Kenworth cab over model to roll off the production line. Driver comfort is also more advanced than ever before, with a greater use of soft plush vinyl and recessed panels, as well as a fresh contemporary range of new trim colours, including Shiraz and charcoal. The new cab floor is almost flat, with a lower engine tunnel. The gearshift has a wider gate for easier shifts. A fold-away gear lever allows easy access to the sleeper area, as well as the two 30 litre fridges or storage drawers mounted under the bunk.