The new Setra TopClass 400

Muamer Hodzic December 12, 2007

The highlight at this year’s “Busworld” trade fair show in Kortrijk, Belgium, was the premiere of the new TopClass 400 with its now even more attractive look. Because even though the brand has every reason to be proud of the high sales figures achieved, the positive customer feedback and the numerous international distinctions received, Setra continues to be committed to constantly enhancing quality, engineering, safety and comfort. Development engineers and designers, in close cooperation with Production and Sales, have incorporated a host of technical solutions and further developments in all types of the TopClass 400 touring coach generation. The only exceptions to this are the special models, such as for instance the right-hand-drive version.

Werner Staib, manager of Setra Omnibusse, is proud of the fact that it was possible to enhance yet again the value of the Setra top touring coaches without changing the distinctive Setra “face”: “our objective was to achieve the maximum amount of technical improvements with the minimum amount of changes to the look of the vehicle.”

Active and passive safety of the highest level

The safety issue takes pride of place in the manifold model refinements carried out on the S 416 HDH and S 415 HD, which were seen for the first time in Kortrijk. Setra offers the TopClass 400 model series, equipped as standard with a module which, in the event of a head-on collision, displaces the entire driver’s area towards the rear, as well as with an integrated absorber structure. The interaction of these two systems was optimised based on the findings of countless crash simulations. The result is a significant increase of passive safety for driver and accompanying personnel. The effectiveness of this safety system has also been demonstrated in many crash tests. Both the displaceable driver area and the absorber structure are elements of the new Front Collision Guard (FCG) system, which additionally offers an underride guard in accordance with ECE-R 93 for the protection of other parties involved in a collision. Thus, these three letters: FCG will in future stand for the highest degree of protection for driver and passengers of Setra touring coaches.

While the FCG system raises passive safety to significantly higher levels, there are innovations in the area of active safety, too. For example: when turning a corner, a new light element at the front of the bus illuminates the road area lying before the vehicle. At speeds below 40 km/h, the turn indicator or the steering automatically activate the front foglamps, which thus become cornering lamps.

In addition, TopClass 400 vehicles are now equipped with light and rain sensors, which also react automatically to prevailing weather and ambient conditions, and if necessary activate the headlamps and/or the windscreen wipers.
Both front upper (corner) marker lights are now LEDs, with a significantly longer useful life. A new windscreen wiper control system ensures that when the wind­screen wipers are operating at the highest level, their speed is reduced just before reaching the reversal point: this produces a noticeable noise reduction of the system.

Even more powerful engines

One other quality improvement is not immediately visible, but can be felt all the more when you step on the accelerator pedal. Because from now on, bus com­panies can count on even more power. With it the Setra can tackle the steepest gradients on mountain roads with even greater ease and assurance. Beneath the newly-designed engine flap (which is no longer a lifting flap, but rather a swivelling flap, integrated at the vehicle rear and protecting against rainwater ingress) are found the engines which are considerably more powerful. The Setra thus offers the S 415 HD, the S 415 HDH, the S 416 HDH and the S 417 HDH models, equipped with the OM 457 LA 6-cylinder in line engines, developing 315 kW/428 hp and 2100 Nm, or 335 kW/455 hp and 2200 Nm. Optionally, the HDH type models can be equipped with the V8 OM 502 LA engine, with an output of 360 kW/503 hp and 2300 Nm. This engine is standard in the double-decker S 431 DT touring coach. The S 411 HD compact touring coach is fitted with the V6 OM 501 LA engine with an output of 300 kW/408 hp / 1900 Nm. New, too, is the 8-speed GO 240-8 PowerShift automated manual transmission, which is available in addition to the ZF-AS Tronic. All the engines are EURO4 compliant. Optionally, they can also be made to meet the EURO5 standard.

More space thanks to front-end extension

And it is not only the engine power that has risen significantly in the new TopClass400: the front-end length of the coach has been increased by 200 mm, which means greater comfort for driver and passengers. 14 centimetres in the bodyshell offer the coach driver even more seat adjustment possibilities, while an increase of seven centimetres for the accompanying person, means he or she now enjoys the same legroom as that offered by a four-star seat.

The wheelbase of the S 415 HDH has been extended by 100 mm, so that the total vehicle length of this three-axle coach has increased to 12.30 metres. And: by mo­ving the driver rest area to its new location behind Entry II, the S 415 HDH, S 416 HDH and S 417 HDH super high deckers now offer additional space to accommo­date a seat for a second accompanying person. And boarding and getting off through the rear door has become even more comfortable in these coach models because Setra has equipped the new TopClass 400 super high deck coaches with an additional entry and exit aid.

Roll-pitch control and trailing axle with individual suspension

Take ride comfort, for instance. Here too, Setra passengers are carried as on silk cushions. By counteracting in a controlled manner the pitch and roll movement of the coach, the optionally available roll-pitch control system prevents the vehicle from rocking, and ensures that both in curves and on uneven roads it glides along as gently as possible. The trailing axle with independent suspension, installed for the first time in the TopClass 400, also contributes: it guarantees a high level of operating smoothness, and what’s more, it allows a weight reduction of 160 kg.

Additional weight reductions achieved

And in this respect, too, the reworked touring coaches offer every reason to be pleased. For, in spite of some measures leading to an increase in weight, it was still possible to reduce the overall weight of the vehicles by one percent. The omission of the luggage compartment flap on the left side has contributed to this weight re­duc­tion, apart from making access to the luggage compartment easier and more convenient.

But these are not the only measures that modify the aspect of the vehicles. For exam­ple, from now on the rubber strip around the windscreen is a thing of the past. This innovation will also improve fuel economy.
The newly integrated cornering light and the increase of the angle of approach con­tri­bute to giving the Setra a face that will “smile” in an even friendlier manner in future.

Of course, this facelift is also of great benefit to the drivers, who can now feel even more comfortable in a cockpit which is becoming more and more like that of a passenger car thanks to some exclusive innovations. One of these is the newly-designed joystick, the leather-covered multi-function steering wheel with integrated button function, and a new instrument panel in easy-to-see 3D look with multi-function display.

Numerous safety systems

In terms of safety, too, TopClass 400 is “best in class”, i.e. equipped with state-of-the-art technology. All the vehicles are fitted as standard with disc brakes, as well as the following systems: electronic/pneumatic braking system (EBS), anti-block braking system (ABS), acceleration skid control (ASR), brake assist system (BA) and electronic stability program (ESP), all of which constitute an active system to en­hance driving safety and stability. At the express wish of customers, since 2005 Setra touring coaches have been equipped with the adaptive cruise control system (ART). This system reduces the stress on the driver on motorways and other major roads. If the system detects a vehicle in front travelling at a lower speed, it auto­matically slows the coach down until a distance is reached which was previously set by the driver, and then maintains this distance constantly. Also since 2005, Setra has offered the continuous braking limiter system (DBL) as standard. It brakes the touring coach automatically to prevent it exceeding the 100 km/h statu­tory speed limit when speeded up by gravity on downhill sections. Another optional system Setra offers is lane assist (SPA). With the help of a video camera the lane assist system detects if the vehicle is at risk of leaving the lane it is in, by perma­nent­ly monitoring the distance from the side of the coach to the lane markings. If the vehicle is in danger of crossing the lane marking, in a split-second a vibration in the seat cushion warns the driver – unnoticed by the passengers. This warning is produced by two electric vibration motors, one on each side of the driver’s thighs: if the bus threatens to leave its lane towards the left, then the left-hand motor acts, and if it is moving off course towards the right, then the right-hand motor is actua­ted: the coach driver instinctively steers the vehicle back towards the centre of the lane. The warning is emitted at the outer edge of the lane marking in order to allow the driver the greatest possible space for a correcting manoeuvre. The lane assist system is activated, for instance, on long monotonous motorway journeys at speeds above 70 km/h.

With its TopClass 400 in 2001, Setra introduced a new dimension in touring coach construction, one which guarantees a travel experience of the highest level for passengers and driver. This is thanks to innovative comfort features such as back supporting seats, multimedia systems, diverse kitchen appliances and the unique glass roof above the central aisle. The ergonomically-designed cockpit combines elegant functionality with aesthetics. A greater adjustment range for the driver’s seat, improved layout and operation of instruments, switches and levers ensure that the driver can concentrate on driving, thus increasing passenger safety.

Not for nothing was the TopClass 400 voted “Coach of the Year 2002” by European specialist journalists only eight months after its debut. The jury based its choice on, among other things, the convincing engineering and its remarkable design, a success­ful symbiosis of

Form and function.

The TopClass 400 generation includes the 10.16 metre S 411 HD Club Bus, the 12.2 metre S 415 HD, the 3-axle, 12.3 metre S 415 HDH super high decker with three-axles, 13.19 metre S 416 HDH and the 14.05 metre S 417 HDH super high decker. The flagship of this Setra premium programme is the 13.89 metre S 431 DT double-decker coach. The S 417 was designed by Setra specifically for the North-American market; it conforms to US regulations and was presented in that country in 2003 for the first time. With a right-hand drive S 415 HD the coach brand from Ulmestablishes the market presence of its TopClass 400 in countries with left-hand drive, such as Great Britain, Irelandand Cyprus.

Comments (3)

  1. Greetings from Indonesia
    may i know, what kind of Chassis that used for this Setra????
    in indonesia the newest Benz chassis is XBC 1518..

  2. @Pande: It seems that Setra is using integral body when building its busses. nevertheless I believe that it uses the same basic spec used by Mercedes-Benz Travego (both classic and all new ones) when designing Setra 400 series. ps. Ini Pande Junker kan?

    @Writer: Any new development or innovation regarding Mercedes & Setra Bus and coaches? after all it’s nearing the end of 2009.

  3. Is there a diagram for the instrument panel for the 2011 Setra intercity coach built for US roads. I need a copy so I can familiarize myself with the workings of the lights, HVAC system and such as I have nevr driven a Setra but will be required to.


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