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Excitement as Weststar unveils Marcopolo Paradiso 1350 …Honours Luxury Bus Transporters

-By Ironhand Sydney Chukwuemeka

The hope of a return to the days when luxury buses dominated long-distance passenger transportation, was rekindled recently when some of the operators converged on Lekki, Lagos, to witness the presentation of a new model built by Mracopolo on Mercedes-Benz O 500 RSD 2436/30 chassis. It is called Marcopolo Paradiso 1350.

The authorised general distributors of Mercedes-Benz in Nigeria, Weststar Associates Limited, unveiled the new generation (G7) bus at its head office in Lekki, in collaboration with Auto Alternative Nigeria Limited, the official representatives of Marcopolo in the country.

They assured the transporters that the new luxury bus, sometimes called coach, depending on the interior features, “has all the Mercedes-Benz ‘technological advantages’ for long/medium distance applications.”

According to the partners, the introduction of the bus is expected to boost the growth and expansion of inter-state road travel in Nigeria as the industry continues to follow suit with technological advancements from around the world.

Weststar Managing Director, Mr. Mirko Plath, said the introduction of Paradiso 1350 marked a move in the right direction for the bus operators, some of whom have already placed orders for the vehicle. He was confident that with the new model, the bus operators would take their businesses to the next level, even as he lauded their unwavering trust in the Mercedes-Benz brand.

The new generation Paradiso 1350 has been designed to provide satisfactory passenger experience, greater comfort, and safety to the driver, making it even better than its predecessors. It is built with the Mercedes-Benz 0 500 RSD bus chassis developed for middle and long-distance travel.

Weststar Reward Photo

The new product was also described as a robust and highly durable vehicle that is built to carry 24 tonnes and has a body length of up to 14 meters long. The expansive cargo space and high tonnage are good news to transporters, many of whose passengers are traders that board the buses with a lot of goods.

Paradiso 1350 is imbued with external and internal changes that raise the level of features,
comfort, safety, and efficiency in comparison to its predecessors. Its improved exterior has newly designed mirrors that offer better driver visibility, newly designed bumpers, side windows and a fresh visual identity in the front.

The rear comes with a larger back cover that improves access to mechanical components and rear windows with a new design.

Another major feature of the exterior is the headlights with new internal design and integrated DRL (Daytime Running Lights). Also included in the headlights are LED fog lights and an elongated sidewall design giving a modern feel and flow to the light assembly.

The interior is totally transformed from the driver’s cabin with new lighting to the dashboard with soft-touch finish and more thermo-acoustic comfort. There is also an electric window next to the driver that comes as an optional extra, while the larger access steps come with injected profiles and indirect lighting for ease of entrance.

Other features include new floor coverings and a new roof design with superior lighting and LED details. The safety and well-being of passengers and the driver is prioritised as the space between the latter’s cab and the formers’ section, is partitioned with bullet-proof glass. The driver’s cab is also partitioned with a protective glass door.

The O 500 RSD 2436 6×2 chassis is mated to an OM 457 LA engine that comes with 6 in-line cylinders. The power output is265 kW (355 hp) at 1,750 rpm and is operated via a 6-speed manual gear transmission. Bus operators will find the Mercedes-Benz O 500 chassis very economical because the electronic motors included in its engine ensure that the bus consumes lower fuel and has a longer life.

The chassis is equipped with safety features like the Top Brake auxiliary engine brake coupled with the conventional engine brake system. This brake system provides many advantages, such as increased braking power, higher speed on slopes, greater safety, less gear shifting, lower maintenance costs, longer life of brake, tyre components and fuel economy.

An anti-lock brake system (ABS) offers greater safety, enabling the vehicle to remain stable in adverse driving conditions and critical situations. In cases of sudden braking, even on smooth surfaces or rough roads, the ABS system prevents the vehicle from skidding.

Providing more insight into Paradiso 1350’s chassis, Weststar manager in charge of the luxury bus section, Ifeanyi Igbokwe, recommended the vehicle to luxury bus operators, pointing out that their focus should be on the advantages which it, the chassis, has bestowed on the new arrival.

These Igbokwe listed as ruggedness; which makes the bus “an absolute workhorse”; versatility in terms of load capacity and easy maintenance. The Key Accounts Manager also cited other benefits of using the bus as continuous service with as little downtime as possible, which is part of the after-sales support Weststar and Auto Alternative back the bus with; wider service network; lowest cost of operations for better returns on investment; and parts availability.

Some of the luxury bus transporters present at the launch were Chairman of Bonny Way Motors Limited, Chief Boniface Nwachukwu, who has already taken delivery of some units of the new model; Nonso Ubajaka of Izuchukwu Transport; Chief Godfrey Obi of Gobison Motors; as well as General Manager, Chimezie & Bros Limited, Uche Kings Abueme.

An interplay of economic, affordability and road infrastructural issues has in the past few years troubled the luxury bus transportation industry, thereby paving the way for the reign of mini buses, which some argue are not suitable for long-distance operations, apart from raising safety concerns.

This explains the deep interest the new Paradiso 1350 is attracting among luxury bus transporters.