There’s a bit of noise and vibration up the back of the new Wrightbus Streetlite demo unit we drove, which is one of a few minor things that need sorting out before it hits Australian roads.
The bus was pretty sluggish off the mark, but of course that doesn’t matter too much on a route conveyance where you don’t want to be throwing standing passengers around. ABC didn’t encounter any roundabouts so can’t report on how it handles a quick standing start on one of those.
Once underway, you have to keep your foot flat to the floor to get up to speed. One wonders about the performance of the 11.5m version of this bus with the same four-cylinder engine.
However, the gear changes are nice and smooth. The transmission retarder seems to be effective.
ABC took the Streetlite for a burl along a local stretch of motorway but could only get it up to its UK speed-limited 90km/h (55mph on the speedo of this unit). It handled the wet open road well and, most importantly, the steering felt firm and accurate. The steering was very good when cornering around town too.
The only problem was when the bus was actually stopped. You have to apply a fair bit of foot pressure to the brake pedal and, as soon as you let go, this unit wanted to surge forward too quickly.
The aluminium frames and quick-release aluminium panels are attached to the powder-coated steel cradle which runs the length of the bus.
The British spec sheet says it can carry 70 passengers. While it might be able to handle that weight, we think any prospective operators in Australia are dreaming if they think Australian authorities will approve that many bodies on a nine-metre bus.
This is a pioneer test and demonstration unit, so there are many such aspects yet to be worked out before the Streetlite hits the roads of Australasia. ABC thinks that includes reducing some driveline harshness on this unit.
There is a fair bit of vibration and noise, especially up the back of the rear-engined Streetlite. That isn’t unusual for a route bus of course, especially a small route bus, Patico says.
But while there might be some improvement needed on that aspect of passenger comfort, the ride was excellent. The British-spec seats were good but, more significantly, the experience for the posterior was nice and smooth as both a passenger and driver.
Video: Andrew Britten