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MiniPlus Article
March 26 2018
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

Noone Turas 600s midi gets off to a flying start

One of a number of Iveco-based midicoaches that are challenging the status quo is the Noone Turas 600s. Dealer Minis to Midis has high future hopes for the vehicle, which seats up to 25 passengers

Minis to Midis expects to sell 20 Turas 600s to UK operators during 2018

German chassis’ dominance of the front-engined mini and midicoach market is starting to wane thanks to an unprecedented challenge from Iveco. One such vehicle making inroads is the compact Noone Turas 600s.

It is built on a 7,200kg GVW chassis and it complements the similar but larger Turas 700. While the latter targets capacity, the Turas 600s is aimed at buyers that require a high specification, and it has seen sales success in the eight months since launch.

“The Turas 600s is a winner; it ticks many boxes for operators and it is well-suited to some who are looking to replace 16- or 19-seat Sprinter-based minicoaches,” says UK supplier Minis to Midis Sales Executive Richard Brooks.

“We sold 10 in the first six months of it being available and we will be disappointed if we don’t hit 20 in 2018.”

Appeal to some Sprinter buyers - and particularly those that take coachbuilt models - comes via the Turas 600s’ compact dimensions. It is 8.01m long - little more than many Sprinters - but it is 2.39m wide, allowing up to 25 seats in a 2+2 layout.

Thanks to that, Minis to Midis expects that around half of its projected 65 sales in 2018 will be Iveco-based. Last year, that share was around 30%.

Why so popular?

Other things contribute to the Turas 600s’ popularity. Although it is tilted at the luxury end of the market, it is still competitively-priced, and to standard specification, net price is £110,000.

That’s more than the most closely-comparable Sprinter. But, adds General Manager Paul Gardner, the Turas 600s is able to handle a wider variety of work.

As well as hires for 16-19 passengers, it is equally competent with 25 people aboard. An unladen weight of around 4,800kg gives a significant luggage tolerance of around 25kg per passenger when fully loaded. The body is built with that in mind, and it has 4.3m3 of space in the boot.

Kiel and Sege seats can be fitted to the Turas 600s, the former in leather

The Turas 600s has already secured repeat business from at least one operator, and Minis to Midis has quoted on one super-luxury example with 16 500mm-wide captain’s chairs in a 2+1 layout.

In 2+2 specification, two seat types are available. A Turkish-made Sege type, produced exclusively for Noone, is standard, but also offered is a product from Kiel. The latter can be specified in a variety of shades of full leather. A toilet can also be fitted.

Other items that are included as standard include a courier seat, heated windscreen and mirrors, a reversing camera, a rear emergency exit, wood-effect flooring and Turas-branded sidewall USB ports.

A broad church

Although Minis to Midis believes that the Turas 600s is a feasible Sprinter replacement under some circumstances, Paul adds that demand formerly satisfied by Varios and even the Caetano Optimo are other targets.

“The driveline is a further reason why it has been well-received. The engine is well away from the saloon and it is refined, meaning that noise intrusion is minimal for a front-engined chassis.

“The Hi-Matic gearbox is excellent and the entrance to both the cab and the passenger area is good. Additionally, if service is required from Iveco, its dealers are not frightened by the chassis; it is exactly the same as that used in goods applications and they are familiar with it.”

Significant improvements have more recently been made to the Turas 600s’ cab thanks to a major investment in CAD technology by Noone. That has seen a redesign of the dashboard. To the offside is an improved bank of controls for the body, while on the left, the optional fridge adjacent to the door is integrated in a much more satisfactory manner. It is well incorporated into the doorway, offering no obstruction to the opening.

“The original dash was inoffensive, but the revised design is integrated more fully into the rest of the vehicle,” says Paul. “This is Noone’s first foray into CAD, and it will be used for continual improvement across the range going forward. The revised dash is fitted by Erduman Otomotiv in Turkey during the build process and we believe that it is a significant improvement.”

Revised switch bank to driver’s right has been produced with CAD tech

Stock availability

Minis to Midis works closely with Noone and both parties meet on a regular basis. A recent development was the opening up of stock held at both locations to all buyers regardless of their location, which is a major benefit, says Paul.

“It is part of the arrangements that we made after my father Alan White passed away to ensure business as usual.

“Between ourselves and Noone, we continually have vehicles on the production line. They are all built to a standard specification that can be added to or subtracted from, either during build or after they are shipped.”

Increased cooperation between the two dealers means that flexibility has improved for British customers. An additional benefit for them is that more than half of Noone’s sales in Ireland are of Ivecos. As a result, it has good stock availability of Turas 600s.

That allows buyers in the UK to benefit; Minis to Midis will not hesitate to move a vehicle from Ireland should an operator here require it, and it can do so very quickly. “Every Monday we receive a consolidated stock list,” says Paul. “We know exactly what is available and where it is.”

Is Iveco the future?

As will be seen elsewhere in this issue of miniplus, Iveco-based small coach packages at Euro 6 are proving popular. When the Turas 600s is considered it’s not difficult to see why.

The chassis is key. Its driving experience is good, helped by the class-leading Hi-Matic gearbox. The engine is quiet but it still delivers good performance, and it is also very smooth.

But many other items are also in play. Options are numerous on the Turas 600s and the standard of finish, both inside the saloon and on the outside, is high. Passenger and driver acceptance has proven to be good, and the midicoach also has a strong value-for-money argument.

“I see a growing market for Iveco-based products. That’s not just based on what I think; it comes from listening to what customers tell us,” says Paul. “In the long term, the Turas 600s could represent around a third of our sales, such is its appeal.”

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