The first Mercedes truck to wear the eye-catching colours of Cambridgeshire’s P Harper & Sons is proving every bit as fuel-efficient as hoped, while also winning a resounding ‘thumbs up’ from its driver.

Transport Manager Matthew Harper, assisted by his brother Adam, said that after four months on the road, and with more than 27,000 miles under its belt, the Actros 2548 BigSpace tractor unit was living up to all expectations. “Returns vary but it’s averaging 9mpg, which is very good indeed for our line of work,” he said.

“Driver Rob Parkinson loves it, and reckons it’s the best vehicle he’s ever had. He came out of a Scania and says he wouldn’t go back. I’ve taken the Actros out myself and it’s certainly a lovely drive – the cab is extremely comfortable and well laid out, the automated transmission is very smooth, and the engine pulls really well.”

A third-generation family business, Harper’s is based at Ramsey Heights, Huntingdon, and serves the agricultural sector. Its transport operation, which trades as Harpers Haulage, runs a mixed-marque fleet. Much of the company’s work is focused on potatoes, onions and carrots – a special handling service entails debagging, emptying bulkers, and grading, before packing the produce into boxes and delivering to customers.

The Actros arrived via Dealer Intercounty Truck & Van with a factory-fitted fridge and microwave, and a long-range 490-litre fuel tank in place of the standard 450-litre item. It is powered by a 476hp 12.8-litre straight-six engine.

Economy is enhanced by Predictive Powertrain Control system – an innovative cruise control that employs 3D mapping and GPS data to scan the road ahead, this well proven technology manages gear changes and vehicle speed, making full use of momentum and of the Mercedes PowerShift 3 transmission’s EcoRoll function.