Tour de force: Top coaches for GCC tourism

Some of the top offerings from commercial vehicle brands

PHOTO: Scania is set to launch a new coach for the GCC, the Scania Touring, designed for occasional and regular services over medium and long distances. Credit: Scania

From theme parks and ski slopes to big-budget malls and museums, the GCC states are leaving no stone unturned in the race for tourism dollars.

Despite the current uncertainty around oil and sluggish economic conditions in many global markets, an increase in tourism-related investment is expected in the GCC, driven by the run-up to mega-events (in the UAE and Qatar), growing numbers of pilgrims (Saudi Arabia), and the need to overcome hydrocarbon dependence. With the region’s hospitality industry forecast to be worth nearly $36 billion by 2018, tourism will no doubt play a crucial role in the economies of the Gulf nations going forward.

Rising numbers of visitors creates the need for other services, such as those of tour operators. This will no doubt spur demand for coaches dedicated to the segment, and manufacturers are all too aware of this. Truck&Fleet ME decided to take a look at offerings from leading truck and bus players specifically geared towards the tourism and leisure segment.


Swedish heavyweight Scania is set to launch a new coach for the GCC, the manufacturer revealed to Truck&Fleet ME. The Scania Touring is designed for occasional and regular services over medium and long distances.

Combining fuel efficiency with low life-cycle cost, the Scania Touring HD 12-metre high-decker coach has been styled to convey typical Scania traits like the rounded wedge shape at the front and the rounded corners that reduce drag.

The coach’s interior features 49 reclining passenger seats, with a guide seat mounted at the front. The luggage hatches open up pneumatically (as an option) to 9m3 of luggage space, slightly less with the optional co-driver bunk.

The coach is available in two trim levels, Comfort (fabric upholstery) and Premium (leather upholstery), both with options for mid-mounted toilet cabinet and kitchenette. A selection of coordinated colour schemes for panels and upholstery can be combined, as per customer specifications. Stitched leather upholstery with contrasting seams is optional.

Roof-mounted air conditioning and convector heating are standard, with auxiliary heating as an option. The side and rear windows are double-glazed and tinted. AV equipment includes 19-inch LCD monitors at the front and in the centre.

Driver-friendly ergonomics are ensured on the Scania Touring, with ample seat and steering wheel adjustments. The driver seat is fully pneumatic and has several adjustment options with memory, as well as an adjustable backrest with integrated head restraint, tilt setting and horizontal adjustment. The driver seat also has an integrated headrest, high back, double armrest and three-point seatbelt. The dashboard has an upright design for better ergonomics, while the instrument cluster is installed horizontally to facilitate orientation and reduce reflections.

Behind the centre door is an optional co-driver bunk with an intercom facility to communicate with the driver. All seats in the coach have integrated seatbelts.

The all-Scania powertrain on the coach comprises Euro 3 up to Euro 6 engines from 360hp to 460hp, a 12-speed gearbox and fully electronically controlled gear changing with Scania Opticruise. An overdrive version of the gearbox can be specified, for fuel-efficient high-speed cruising.

The coach also has full air suspension and optional independent suspension for the front wheels, with electronically controlled disc brakes with ABS as standard.

In terms of after-sales support, parts, maintenance and repairs are available for Scania Touring customers via the manufacturer’s regular sales and service network.


The Magelys, named Coach of the Year last year, is Iveco’s offering for the tourism segment.

It is available in three versions: Line, for medium distance travel; Pro, for high service levels on regular inter-regional, national and international lines; and Lounge, the full options version. Each version is available in two different lengths, 12.2m and 12.8m.

Unveiled at Busworld last year, the new Lounge version is based on the Pro version and offers an AS-Tronic gearbox, lateral sun blind, driver’s seat armrest, GPS, reversing camera, camera for the centre door and coffee machine. Optional equipment includes seats with adjustable headrest, USB sockets, touchscreen radio display and two games tables at the rear.

The Magelys Line and Pro versions can be fitted with an additional door on the right-hand side, with a lift platform and a Cinema Seat System (CSS) wherein seats can be quickly and easily folded away, freeing up space for a wheelchair or games table.

As far as safety is concerned, the Magelys is equipped as standard with ABS and AEBS (advanced emergency braking system) brakes, ESP and ASR (anti-slip regulation), to optimise traction control and grip during start-up, as well as a lane departure warning system.

As an option, the coach can be fitted with ACC (adaptive cruise control), which uses radar technology to ensure a safe distance is kept from the vehicle in front and automatically triggers the engine brake and retarder if this distance suddenly decreases.

The Magelys Euro 6 offers a 10% reduction in fuel consumption compared to the previous Euro 5 engine, as a result of being about 200kg lighter and tweaks to the bodywork that make it more aerodynamic.

The Magelys coach on display at the Iveco stand at Busworld 2015 marked the Italian brand’s partnership with the New Zealand national rugby team, the All Blacks, with its livery bearing the team’s colours. The coach, which has a basic configuration with 57 seats, was customised for the players and featured amenities such as Wi-Fi, GPS, a coffee machine, a twin amplifier for microphones, a USB port for every seat and a 220V socket for every pair of seats.

“Our partnership with the All Blacks is a historic one, and it celebrates the values of commitment, reliability, performance and team spirit that our employees share with the team,” says Pierre Lahutte, Iveco brand president.


As its name indicates, the Mercedes-Benz Tourismo has been developed for the tourism sector and is offered in a variety of configurations to meet different business needs.

Available in three lengths with seating for 49 to 57 passengers, the coach is suited to applications ranging from airport shuttles to long-distance routes. The high-decker is available in three different lengths and two axle variants with 51 to 59 seats for different operational purposes: as a classic 12m Tourismo; a 14m Tourismo L with three axles; and a 13m two- or three-axle version, the Tourismo M.

While the three-axle vehicle is equipped with an OM 470 engine with 315kW (428bhp) as standard, customers can choose between performance options 265kW (360bhp), 290kW (394bhp) and 315kW (428bhp) for the two-axle vehicles.

Passenger comfort is a crucial element in the design of a touring coach. The Tourismo offers Travel Star seating developed to ensure comfortable sitting, especially on longer journeys. Optional padding can be provided to increase comfort, particularly in long-distance regular service. Footrests, folding trays and luggage nets are also available for individual passengers. Moreover, the Tourismo can also be fitted on request with a lift to enable passengers with restricted mobility to access the vehicle with ease.

New safety features on the Tourismo include a lane departure warning system and AEBS. The coach also features standard ESP, brake assist for emergency braking and continuous braking limiter (DBL). DBL prevents the driver from exceeding the legal speed limit and makes it impossible to improperly disengage the drive system by stepping on the clutch, for example when driving downhill.


At its BusDays event in Ankara last year, German heavyweight MAN Truck & Bus showcased the MAN Lion’s Coach, adapted to the passenger transport requirements of the Middle East. The coach is available for the region in a Euro 5 version.

“The BusDays Ankara event is an important platform for MAN to showcase our product range,” says Franz von Redwitz, managing director of MAN Truck & Bus Middle East. “Our varied range of stylish bus and coach models adequately meets the demanding requirements of urban passenger transport in the Middle East while offering great comfort and safety.”

The Lion’s Coach is available as a 12m bus and also in three-axle versions as the Lion’s Coach C and Lion’s Coach L – the former measuring 13.26m and the latter 13.80m. The Lion’s Coach accommodates 49 passengers, while the Lion’s Coach C has 55 passenger seats and the Lion’s Coach L has 57.

The coach’s interior features tinted glass roof hatches, energy-saving LED reading lights and a DVD/video system with up to three flat-screen displays. An optional lift system is available for disabled passengers.

Safety features on the Lion’s Coach include standard ESP and EBS. The 12-speed MAN TipMatic transmission can be operated both in fully automatic mode and manually by means of the touch-action stalk on the steering column. The coach is also equipped with AEBC, lane guard system and adaptive cruise control.

The harsh summers in the region mean a powerful air-conditioning system is essential. The MAN Lion’s Coach has a special air-conditioning and isolation package for very hot climates and offers highly efficient cooling even in Gulf countries.

Like all MAN buses and coaches, the Lion’s Coach has been thoroughly tested for aerodynamic performance, noise reduction and impact resistance. The coach is optionally equipped with GPS-controlled MAN Tempomat EfficientCruise technology, which the manufacturer says can cut fuel consumption by up to 6% without time lost in transit. The technology uses saved map material to detect upward and downward gradients in the route ahead, enabling the coach to build up momentum in a targeted manner before an upward gradient, so that it can coast over a hilltop at reduced speed.

The oriental offering

Chinese brands are also making their mark in the GCC touring coach segment, proving to be a popular choice among operators. One notable example is Yutong, distributed in the UAE by Al Khoory Automobiles.

One of the world’s largest medium and large-sized bus manufacturers, Yutong has a sales volume of around 60,000 units per year, and since its inception in 1993 has had a compounded annual growth rate of 24.5%.

In the UAE, Yutong offers a 6-25m product portfolio, covering various market segments including tourism and public transportation.

Among its most popular products for the tourism sector are the 6122H, a 51-seater coach, and the 6858H, a 35-seater offering. Features on the former include a reverse camera, refrigerator, DVD player with LCD monitor, microphone and 150L water tank.

Yutong coaches are subjected to rigorous safety tests, including a rollover test with a tilt angle of 42 degrees, a road simulation test, an impact test, a vehicle shower test and a seat crash test.

In line with the push towards fuel efficiency, the brand offers a personalised operation matching programme for powertrain optimisation, with different working conditions and multiple modules available for selection. This reduces fuel consumption by 5-10%.

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