Before getting to the helm of the massive land vessel, you must first scale it. This is where basic rock-climbing comes in useful. Once in the cab, I’m immediately overwhelmed by how high I am, and by how big the cabin is, and how small the road is.
Starting up the 15.9-litre 598bhp V8 is a grand affair, as I almost feel the cylinders – each with the entire displacement of a Toyota Camry’s 2.0 engine – stirring to life. I adjust my seat as forward as possible, because the pedals are a mile away. I pretend to check the mirrors, but ignore the fact that they’re not ideally positioned (they’re large enough to cover a lot of ground).
The big truck has 16 gears, but I’m not daunted, because the Actros’ electronic-pneumatic Telligent system lets me drive the behemoth like any automatic. The shift lever is a joystick – push one side of the button and it goes into auto mode, of I can drive the truck like a Tiptronic, with flicks of my wrist.
Foot on the brake pedal, I release the parking brake, also via a tiny joystick-like lever. For such a giant, it sure has small sticks… I ease my foot off the brakes and squeeze the throttle. For a second, nothing happens. Then, the Actros heaves its massiveness forward, puling its 40-tonne trailer along.
I head down the first curve of the Monteblanco Circuit, feeling like the pilot of a jumbo. The engine goes through its first set of gearchanges as it tries to match the V8’s torque curve.
The beast has 2800Nm of pulling force, from just over 1000rpm. Even so, progress is leisurely. That’s good, because I don’t want to go too fast in the mammoth. It’s fun to drive, because of its sheer majesty.
As I go along, I bop gently up and down on the seat. After a while, I think to myself: “This isn’t as hard as I thought.” Then I enter a corner too fast. Panic sets in, but before I can react, the truck’s ESP kicks in – not unobtrusively like in a car, but in an in-your-face way that says “We’ll take it from here, kid.” And I sail through without ploughing field. What a truck!