Since its launch last year the exceptionally low-weight 11.7 metre Versa has been proving itself in both the demanding urban environment and on rural operations in several parts of the UK. The model weighs just 7,820 kgs and has the passenger capacity of a 12 metre bus to give it a high revenue earning potential.
Optare says that the lower capital cost and fuel saving potential of such a low-weight model, able to carry up to 44 seated passengers and a total of 62 with standees, is already proving particularly appealing to operators looking for the lowest possible cost per seat in this class of vehicle.
The vehicle on show at last weeks Coach & Bus Live is in the colours of Go North East and was one of 14 currently being delivered to them. Their decision to introduce the 11.7 metre Versa into their fleet followed ten weeks of trials on intensive city centre services during which the vehicle delivered an impressive performance, acclaim from both drivers and passengers, and, crucially, very good fuel returns.
The Go North East vehicle is fitted with 37 fixed Esteban Civic V2 seats and six tip-up seats in the two wheelchair/buggy spaces located on each side of the saloon immediately to the rear of the front wheelboxes. A low step height of 318 mm, which reduces to just 245 mm when the bus is ‘kneeling’ provides easy access for passengers with reduced mobility and wheelchair access is by means of robust manual fold-out ramp.
Power is from a six-cylinder Cummins ISBe engine delivering 150 kW (201 bhp) at 2500 rpm and 700 Nm of torque and which meets the Euro 5 EEV standard. This is matched to an Allison 2100 Series five-speed automatic transmission with lock-up convertor to aid fuel efficiency, which is also enhanced by a Klam electro-magnetic retarder actuated automatically through the brake pedal.
Go North East has set a high specification for their new Versas with driver comfort receiving particular attention. A Chapman MK250 driver’s seat has been specified, which incorporates a head rest and lumbar support and the driver’s compartment has Denso air conditioning and a full protection screen.
Optare believes that Versa sets the standard for style with its aerodynamic swept-back appearance.
The curved single-glazed side windows are bonded to the vehicle frame and are tinted for passenger comfort in high temperatures. Modular front and rear panels are in GRP for easier and low cost replacement.
Beneath this stylish exterior is an all-welded heavy-duty box section integral construction based on a combination of stainless and high-grade carbon steel for durability. Also contributing to a long life is anti-rust protection applied to exposed structural components and an underseal treatment using the Dinol process.