The Volkswagen Constellation is almost completely unknown in Europe and US, but in South America the truck is pretty successful. The truck is manufactured since 2005 in cooperation with MAN in Brazil and is available with gross combined weights between 14.3 tons - 62.8 tons.
The Volkswagen Constellation is the biggest vehicle in Volkswagen’s lineup and was designed for long haul and other distribution operations. The Volkswagen Constellation features a cab over engine configuration and is offered with numerous wheelbases and specifications. The truck comes with a range of Cummins and MWM diesel engines which come in three power outputs.
The truck features a modern design which looks typically European. The squared cab if dominated by a black vertical grille which bares the company logo in its center. To break the monotony of clean surface, the front sheet metal received two dynamic creases which flank the grille and enhance the modern look of the truck.
There are also a two round headlights on each side of the grille which are placed vertically and feature a black plastic surrounding which gives the Constellation a distinctive look.
The robust design of the truck is enhanced by the front bumper which is fitted with a central air intake and is made of a strong metal which is easy to replace in case of a partial damage.
You can hop inside without too many efforts, as the steps and handles are placed intuitively and serve you well all the way up.
Once you’ll find yourself in the Constellation cab, you’ll find a pretty ergonomic design, with a dash that strangely reminds us about the Volkswagen Golf 4 model. While we’re still not 100% percent convinced about the quality of the materials selected by Volkswagen for the dash and door panels, we continue to be impressed by the quality of the fittings, which even if can’t be compared with models like Volvo or Scania, are still pretty good and look like they are ready to last for a significant number of years.
While the dashboard design can be considered rather dated than modern, you won’t have any complains about the overall ergonomy. Luckily, Volkswagen used its experience in manufacturing passenger cars and the controls layout is also pretty intuitive with everything being put in the right place.
The seats however, betray the utilitarian nature of the truck and they are devoid of any significant side support and have a pretty flat design. Moreover, they aren’t even fitted with armrest, a lack that could affect the driver’s comfort during longer journeys. The good part is that they come with plenty of adjustments, while the position of the four spoke steering wheel can be also set according to your wishes.
The instrument cluster share the same old school design as the rest of the cab and is fitted with four gauges and a central information display which keeps you posted on different vehicle stats.
There are two cab options available including day and sleeper configurations, both equipped with the High Comfort cab suspension and with the option of a foldable bed for the day cab.
Storage in both versions is pretty extravagant and you’ll find a cubby hole or useful box almost wherever you look. Furthermore, in the high roof version the cab is also fitted with spacious overhead storage consoles while the standard cabs come with door pockets, dash mounted storage and two convenient cup holders mounted behind the gearlever.
Engines and transmissions
The Volkswagen Constellation is offered with a choice of Cummins ISBe, Cummins ISCe and MWM engines.
The Euro III Cummins ISBe common rail engine is fitted with a turbo charger and develops a maximum output of 246 hp @ 2500 rpm with a peak torque of 950 Nm achieved from as low as 1200 rpm and maintained all the way up to 1700 rpm. The Cummins ISBe engine is able to propel the vehicle to a maximum speed of up to 114 km/h.
The Euro III Cummins ISCe turbo intercooler unit is boosts 315 hp @ 2000 rpm and 1288 Nm @ 1300-1600 of torque, while the MWM engine develops a maximum power of 180 hp @ 2200 rpm and 600 Nm of torque.
The engines are mated on Eaton’s synchromesh gearbox which is able to cope well with the utilitarian nature of the truck featuring smooth and precise shifts. There are also two dual speed rear axle shifts which are controlled by means of a button placed next to the gearshift lever.
The Cummins engines offer a fair amount of power and have plenty of punch without feeling underpowered regardless of what load is carried at the back. The MWM unit however, could feel slightly sluggish when it needs to deal with steep inclines or highway takeovers.
Volkswagen Constellation Engines specifications
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Ride and axles
The Volkswagen Constellation 6x2 models use a Meritor tractive rear axle, with a maximum capacity of 60 tons. When used for the tractor version, the axle includes a series differential locking system to improve performance.
The 6x2 variants are equipped with an Extra Traction Device (ETD) which offers the possibility to lift the third axle, total o partial improving the traction on slopes by transferring a part of the third axle load to the tractive axle during the partial lifting.
The truck’s ride isn’t among the most comfortable experience found in the segment, but it can be considered satisfactory. The steering however is fairly good and will offer a good response at both low and high speeds.
To slow down this big rig you are helped by a capable engine break combined with discs at the front and drums at the back.
The Volkswagen Constellation isn’t as technological advanced as its famous European rivals, but it can be considered a basic truck which was built to get the job done without all the bells and whistles found at its more upscale counterparts.
The exterior looks pretty modern and has a strong build quality as well. It’s true that the cab is far from being luxurious or even contemporary, but the fittings are well done and everything is placed intuitively allowing you to drive the truck pretty easy.
If Volkswagen would’ve offered stronger engines, the Constellation could’ve had the potential to amaze the trucking industry. Though, the engines are what they are and even if they aren’t among the strongest units in the business, you won’t have any major complain, as you can rely on them with confidence. The truck is also pretty reliable, but the maintenance costs and spare parts aren’t exactly cheap.