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Testbericht-Neoplan Tourliner L 14 Bilder Zoom
Foto: Karl-Heinz Augusin

Neoplan Tourliner L

Family affair

Test: The Neoplan Tourliner has always found it tough to establish itself as a true Neoplan on the German market. After eleven years of production, we put a veteran coach to the test.

If you don't truly belong to the family, you can spend your whole life trying to get your voice heard. This truism often applies in the vehicle world, as is the case for the Neoplan Tourliner, the second version of a MAN bus after the Stuttgart-based manufacturer, which would have celebrated its 80th birthday in 2015, was taken over by MAN in 2002.

A Neoplan from Ankara? No split windshield? No window columns with the traditional 19° forward incline? "No way!" This was the loud reaction from customers across the country. The coach's design is based on the last Neoplan generation, and is a long way from the "sharp cut" design of later models that still shapes the brand to this day.

This certainly has its advantages, such as the large windshield that gives the driver excellent visibility. But it also comes with a few downsides. The single-spot headlights, for example, cannot be fitted with either xenon lights or cornering lights. On the whole, however, the Tourliner is an impressive sight, with the new front-end hood giving it a slightly more dynamic look. The sales figures for the first Turkish-made Neoplan have yet to take off, with 2,500 vehicles sold in over ten years not exactly being a mega success. The bus is a rare sight on German roads in particular. This is also due to the fact that the Tourliner is the bus of choice in markets such as the UK or Turkey. Since the early withdrawal of the Starliner luxury model, it has carried the burden of being the only right-hand drive MAN/Neoplan vehicle, making it particularly popular in Great Britain. The Tourliner therefore bravely embodies the luxury and exclusivity that have always made the Neoplan brand so special.

After all, necessity is the mother of invention.

Positioned at the inexpensive end of the market, however (the basic version is available for well below 300,000 euro, and the test vehicle was also no more expensive), the Tourliner is the ideal candidate for Germany's booming long-distance bus market, which has previously turned to the sister brand MAN or the Cityliner. The long-distance-friendly Tourliner has been given a sheen of luxury in the long version, with 2+1 seating, that has long been standard in Turkey and Mexico. This unusual experiment results in a splendid sense of spaciousness, with a generous 53-centimeter-wide aisle, around two meters of headroom and a level floor (previously the privilege of the Lion's Coach), dispelling the impression that you're in some kind of troop transport. The long, three-axle configuration measures 13.80 m in length, and still comfortably fits 33 instead of the maximum 59 seats in the passenger area at five-star spacing. This surely suffices for a luxury business travel provider, but those for whom every seat counts will probably look elsewhere.

Alongside the level floor, a number of other design adjustments had to be made to the vehicle. The final step at the front entrance, for example, does not lead straight to the central aisle, but is slightly angled—toward the the somewhat displaced walkway, as it were. Compared to the Lion's Coach, it is not necessary here to halve the luggage storage space above the single seats. This is because the storage spaces, measuring two cubic meters in capacity, are not as deep as those in the MAN vehicle.

Emphasis on luxury

The Turkish-made Brusa seats, fitted here for the first time for Germany, feature headrests with three adjustment settings. The comfort of the luxury seats with plane-style tables is certainly a plus point, although they do not reach the levels of stability and quality of a Kiel seat. One common point of criticism in the past was the relatively cool plastic cover in beige and Neoplan blue. This can, however, turn into an advantage for the coach operator, as they are easier to clean than a sensitive fabric cover. Another pragmatic feature is the new, enlarged Glova toilet, with around 1.9 meters of standing room and an enlarged tank volume of 150 liters.

Having been neglected for decades, the rise of long-distance coach operators has brought increasing focus to both toilets and other on-board facilities such as fast WiFi and power sockets. A lift, such as those mounted on MAN coaches above the rear axle and which helps them meet legal provisions for 2016, is unfortunately not currently available for the Tourliner. This is due to change, however, with the next design adjustment, which will be required in 2017 by the new ECE R66/02 accident directive
. This will also require MAN to revisit the old issue of high weight. Other manufacturers come out on top here, with some even offering two-axle vehicles measuring 13 meters.

Quality beyond the interior

The big advantage of the MAN/Neoplan platform strategy has always been the high-quality drive technology. Although the Tourliner, like the Lion's Coach, does not yet benefit from the modern Starliner/Cityliner chassis (meaning that it has neither independent suspension for the trailing axle, the short overhang of the Cityliner C nor CDS shock absorbers), the high-tech engine and gearbox were both developed in-house, making them among the best on the market. An adaptive mechanical shock absorber system from ZF will also soon be available. The test vehicle is fitted with the D26 engine with 440 hp, which is fully sufficient in this configuration. 480 hp is also available, with a maximum torque of 2,300 Nm instead of 2,100. This power unit is certainly the better choice if fitting the coach with the full complement of 54 or 59 seats. In both cases, the common rail injection, two-stage turbocharging and dual-mass flywheel help keep the noise down in the interior. The front axle in the test vehicle was a little on the loud side, although MAN claim that this was due to the brake calipers, which have already been replaced in the production model.

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3. September 2015
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