Road test: Scania 530S V8

It’s not long ago that a 530hp truck was considered very powerful. Today, it’s the entry level rating for Scania’s iconic V8. Do you need any more in the UK? We test drive a Scania 530S to find out…

Words/Images: Dougie Rankine

The Scania V8 has long been the go-to option for operators needing a high-output engine, whether that’s for moving heavy loads or getting things where they need to go in a time efficient manner. Sometimes weight and time go together. The 16.4-litre engine is available in the R and the S series and there’s no doubt that they’re a sure fire investment, albeit an expensive one to get into in the first place. Build quality and longevity are cited as prime factors for going for a V8.

Often, fuel economy simply is what it is for a lot of operations – anything you run is going to use a lot of it – so you may as well make use of extra power.

Power options on the V8 have continually increased over the years, and the engine itself has evolved enormously too. Euro 5 had the 500, 560 and 620, with the range-topping 730 introduced for Euro 6. We then moved to 520, 580, 650 and 770hp, and then with Euro 6d there were further updates and we now have a current range of 530, 590, 660 and 770.

The most popular options in the UK have tended to be the middle two, currently the 590 and 660, which makes sense as they’re both more than capable of dealing with our maximum weights.

The entry level V8 is comparatively rare, and that was the case even before the 13-litre began snapping at its heels before actually surpassing it on horsepower with the 540. There’s an all-new super-efficient twin cam Super 13-litre coming this summer with a top output of 560hp, which Scania is pushing hard and may well tempt V8 owners, especially with the spiralling cost of fuel with all that’s going on in the world.

Rare beast

A 530 V8 is a rare animal and wasn’t a truck we’d have expected to encounter in the wild, so we were very intrigued when Scania dealer Keltruck got in touch and said they had a brand new 530S demo, fully specced, that they’d like us to try out.

Is there an economic case for choosing the baby V8 over a 540? Maybe, depending on the work you’re doing. It’ll cost a bit more and might use more fuel, but it’s likely to hold its value better, and the performance level is provided by computer so if you wanted to, you could increase the power in the future.

We had a full week’s work booked with the truck, and kicked things off on a dark Monday morning where I realised that the fifth wheel was too close to the trailer. Many a tag axle has lost its rear lights this way and it’s why some hauliers who run a mix of trailers don’t like them.

I don’t have the strength to pull the pin on the slider (who does, Tyson Fury?) so I went to seek assistance from a helpful mechanic. Once that was done, the long-wheelbase chassis was comfortably clear of the trailer. It could have actually been moved a little closer but it was muddy and dark.

The towering S cab with its flat floor has an enormous amount of room, but then so it should given the size of it. Huge overhead lockers on the front and rear, plus a huge fridge and underbunk cupboard are all excellent, as are the large twin external lockers. These can be accessed by lifting the bunk, which has two trays underneath it. You’d have to be on the road for consecutive weeks before managing to fill this with kit.

The 530S is an easy truck to get comfortable in, with Scania’s dash layout and interfaces quite possibly the best in the business. Why? Because there’s no stupid gimmicks to complicate things. It’s all laid out logically using conventional buttons and the dash screen is navigated with a simple grid. It’s the same across all Scania models and anyone should be able to get in, get comfortable and make proper use of the essential technology.

First load

Our first load is timber, and the dash indicates we’re around 43,200kg. The 530S makes that impressive V8 noise that Scania have done so well to keep liberated from the processes of Euro 6 – it’s likely helped by the lack of EGR on these latest engines.

Unlike the 770 it doesn’t bend physics, as you’d expect. It’ll slow down on steep hills, but only to an extent with the 2800Nm of torque holding it there.

One thing that’s immediately noticeable is the new gearbox. It has overdrive, so on the flat it’ll drop down to 900rpm, and will flick between OD and 12th continuously and rapidly if necessary. You can also initiate eco roll at any point simply by tapping the throttle, which is useful.

The new box is lightning fast and intelligent. The previous generation was good – nothing wrong with it – but this is excellent.

On arrival at the port in Greenock where the timber is to be delivered, using the air transfer button on the dash takes the weight off the tag axle when reversing and we’re soon being tipped, despite dire warnings of several hour waiting times. Scania drivers may notice that the steering is lighter on the new model as well, part of a host of driveline updates rolled out across the range for 2022.

Empty, it’s then time to run down to Kelso in the Scottish borders to load potatoes – another full weight load, destined for Cambridgeshire.

After taking the wrong turn at the potato merchant (cheers Google maps) and doing a six mile detour to get back, then having to do a tight reverse out a dead end after getting it wrong AGAIN, it was at least a demonstration of how nimble a tag can be on farms.

Being a long wheelbase, it behaved remarkably well when empty though, with little nodding of the cab. The truck has air suspension on the chassis and the cab though, so it’s probably a bit too soft for some applications, although it does soak up bumps.

Rockin’ out

Loaded, I calculate that I can get to Leeming Bar for the night, and take the slightly longer of two routes, taking in the A697 via Wooler to pick up the A1 just north of Newcastle. It’s at this point Amazon Music recommended me two albums by The Franklin County Trucking Company, which turn out to be utterly stupendous. Who even knew “trucker rock” was a thing? Anyway, this turned out to be the stomping soundtrack to the rest of the week – check them out.

Parking at Leeming Bar, I make use of the microwave which is rated at 500 watts but has the performance of the 800 I have in the house. It cooks all the food I have perfectly over the course of the week. I make use of the fold out table on the passenger side, which is a nice touch. The flat area in the middle of the dash is useful too.

You have the option to extend the bunk if you want, but it’s more than big enough for me. As it’s January and chilly I set the night heater to 25, which seems reasonable; it’s operated via the dash heater controls. All good so far!

A 4am start time gets us on the road before the traffic builds up, but build up it does. The adaptive cruise gets utilised here, and I opt to sit behind a tanker that’s a bit slower on the flat, but he’s empty and continually pulls away on the steeper hills.

The dual carriageway A1M is a dangerous and tiresome road that requires a lot of looking ahead and concentration – which of course many people simply don’t have – so there’s a few times where the brakes are needed. The Scania retarder is great, although you only need stage 1 or 2 when empty.

The delivery point is a farm and it looks weird on the maps so I phone ahead and confirm that it is indeed down a very unlikely looking side road. I’d never have guessed it was there otherwise, a narrow lane at the side of a housing estate, but of course until recently this all would have been fields. Getting back out requires a fairly tight reverse on mud and the Scania deals with it with no issues at all. Tag advantage? Maybe.

More spuds

The next collection is also potatoes, from another farm. These ones are going back to Scotland. The route to the farm takes in some narrow fens farm roads including one that runs close to a river with a steep bank. Thankfully no other trucks are encountered.

Fully loaded once more, the day ends at Leeming Bar. Performance wise, the V8 is happy enough at 44 tonnes although you can say that about most top output 13-litres. The overall driving experience is very solid, a couple of comments on Instagram criticise the Scania seat but I don’t have any complaints.

As the week progresses I post around 8.5 hours driving time each day, with most of that fully loaded with potatoes. It’s a great few days as I’m running to farms and small wholesalers and avoiding RDCs.

I return to Kelso to repeat the run of Monday, and opt to take on the A68, which is one of the most challenging roads in the country for any truck. Commercial Motor used it on their test route for years, and considering that the 530 V8 was down below 20mph at some points I can only wonder at how slow some old trucks must have been.

Easy ride

It’s on this run that a couple of shortcomings of the S cab become apparent; it’s high driving position and wallowy suspension are noticeable.

The height of the flat floor works against it here, and while it simply won’t matter on the motorway, if you venture onto A and B roads regularly you may find that it lacks the precision and agility of rivals – not to mention its sibling the R series which is almost identical aside from being lower to the ground and having a small hump in the floor.

What it doesn’t have in size, it makes up for in being the better driver’s truck of the two.

The last load of the week is foam insulation which is little more than a couple of tonnes, this allows the mpg to creep up to 7.8 by the end of the week. We wouldn’t read anything into that figure as it was brand new with only 500km on it when we picked it up, and the work was almost all at 44 tonnes. Over a longer period you’d get a mix of different weights and trailers.


I really, thoroughly enjoyed the week with the Scania 530S. It’s a truck that has been designed around the driver both on the road and at rest. The performance is obviously more than adequate, with the low down torque allowing it to dig in when needed, although it doesn’t do so with the swashbuckling aplomb of its more powerful stablemates.

The refinements to the driveline are likely to show their value with fuel savings once the truck beds in. It’s often said that these new Scanias take 100,000km before they’re loosened up fully and start to provide optimal economy and performance. We’d be interested to see how the 530 compares to other V8s.

It’s unlikely that the 530 will sell in great numbers in the UK, especially with the 13-litre about to outgun it on horsepower and match it on torque. But the V8 does still have that aura about it, and if you aren’t nailed to the ground or dealing with hills all the time, then this version could well make good sense either replacing an older V8, or going for something special. The qualities of design and build are prevalent across the whole Scania range; for sheer space and accommodation the S cab is at the top of the class, although it isn’t as fluid to drive as some rivals. Overall, it’s an unusual, but still excellent package, the 530S.


  • Make & model: Scania 530S CR20H V8 6×2 tag
  • Engine: DC16 120 16.4-litre V8 Euro 6e with SCR
  • Gearbox: G33M automated manual 12-speed
  • Power: 530hp @ 1800rpm
  • Torque: 2800Nm @ 925-1400rpm