Heathside Travel moves up to Irizar
The acquisition of a new Irizar coach was an ambition for Heathside Travel director Tim Southby when he started his own coach operation in late 2016. And it was fulfilled earlier this year when the Ferndown, Dorset, company took delivery of a new 13.2 metre, 55-seat tri-axle i6 Integral. The new coach is only the company’s third vehicle, and its first tri-axle.
“When I started, I had a clear vision that we would use Euro 6 vehicles only,” Tim says. “There were two reasons: one was I wanted to be as environmentally-friendly as possible, and the other was that the writing was already on the wall as far as taking older vehicles within the M25 was concerned.
“While we kicked off with smaller vehicles, it was always my intention to move up to Irizar. I had experienced the product while driving coaches for other companies, and, more recently, the feedback I had from other operators running Irizar Integrals was excellent.
“I know that other manufacturers offer good vehicles, but their service representation in this area is pretty much non-existent. As a new operator with a fleet of just three vehicles, reliability and service are everything to me, and the DAF/ZF driveline in the Irizar Integral is a big plus as the local DAF dealer Adams Morey is literally just minutes away from me if needed.”
Tim chose the advanced DAF MX-11 320 435 hp engine, and a ZF AS-Tronic automated manual transmission. “I took advice from a friend of mine who works for DAF in Swanley on this driveline, and he was confident it was the best possible choice for a vehicle of this size and weight,” Tim adds. “It’s a combination where the vehicle will choose a gear and hold it, and not be going up and down the ‘box all the time.
“Irizar was also recommended by PLC Commercials, the company which does all our inspections and services, who said it was a good solid coach. PLC also recommended the DAF driveline.
“What has come as a pleasant surprise is the service offered by Irizar (UK) both during the sales process and after delivery. Not only is the Irizar Integral the best vehicle on our fleet, it’s also the one with the best service.
“Lines of communication between Irizar (UK) and the factory in Spain are short, and straightforward answers and advice come very quickly.”
Heathside Travel has a range of upmarket customers including independent schools, cruise lines calling at south-coast ports, private hire and corporate clients, and this is reflected in the specification of the i6 Integral.
The 55 i6+ seats are half-leather upholstered in i-leather with i-leather piping, and equipped with seat-back tables, arm-rests, USB charging points and three-point belts. Like the other Heathside vehicles, the interior is themed in black and white giving a single corporate image across the fleet. There is a drinks machine and a central toilet, and interior appearance is further enhanced by a wood-effect floor and blue lighting, while ‘kerb appeal’ is boosted by metallic paintwork and aluminium drive-axle covers.
Since delivery in April, the i6 Integral has covered over 9000 miles. “The customers and the drivers love it,” Tim reports.
“We will be in the market for another new coach next year, and I don’t think we’ll be looking anywhere else but Irizar for it,” he concludes.