With a twin-seat driving “compartment” rather than a cab, and independent suspension, driving the Azura is more akin to driving a car. What’s more, the CD and radio come as standard.
It’s the driving compartment that you notice first. Fully glazed with tinted glass and providing excellent visibility, it is air conditioned, has heating and ventilation and the sprung seats are adjustable up and down, forwards and backwards or recline. The steering column is also fully adjustable. There should be no excuse for being uncomfortable in the fatigue-reducing Azura.
“I could happily sit in this all day. It’s incredibly comfortable and you get an excellent view of what you are doing,” says our tester behind the wheel. So it’s a good drive. Let’s look at its sweeping performance.
With two front-mounted side brushes, this machine has a sweeping width in excess of two metres. Each brush works on its own assembly and can be controlled independently of the other.
Despite being so compact, this machine has a real appetite. The litter, dust and debris drawn into the centre are sucked up by a vacuum system with a capacity of 1,300cu m of air per hour. It’s powerful.
Not only does this machine clear the pine needles with ease, it also devours the contents of a split domestic bin liner — beer cans, fizzy drink bottles and all. Heavy and bulky debris is not a problem for the Azura’s 25cm-diameter suction box. A window in the floor of the driving compartment gives the operator a clear view of the debris and rubbish being collected.
“The suction is remarkable — it’s even taking up loose and cracked Tarmac,” points out one of the testers. The easy-to-empty, high-tip hopper is rubber lined and has a generous capacity of two cubic metres. We like the fact that there is a remote control for the emptying operation so that the process can be monitored from a comfortable distance.
The sweeping performance given by the Azura is no noisier than you would expect from a high-powered sweeper.
It is certainly clean and dust free.
As we expected, the brushes are equipped with a water spraying facility. In fact, there are two facilities — one low-pressure and one high-pressure. The low-pressure system provides dust suppression, while the high-pressure system — attained at the flick of a switch — enables blasting of stubborn stains, blood and vomit via a hand lance or high pressure jets in front of the machine.
Overall, the machine looks rigid and you might think it lacks nippiness. It doesn’t. We find the Azura surprisingly manoeuvrable and agile. This is due to the power-assisted four-wheel steering.
It provides effortless negotiation of obstacles and a turning circle of approximately 2.5m. Permanent four-wheel drive means its kerb-climbing ability is excellent and should provide an advantage in the winter months.
The controls are presented in a sensible layout, similar to those in a car, and with hydrostatic control pedals for forward and reverse. There seems to be quite a lot to take in when looking at the controls, but they are logically grouped for easier identification.
The Azura doesn’t look out of place in the cemetery but it needs a lot of regular work to justify the investment.
This really is your “bells and whistles” urban street sweeper. Powered by a 2.8- litre, 96hp turbo diesel engine, this unit is capable of keeping up with traffic. It has an inter-site travelling speed of 48km/h and doesn’t hang around when it’s working, either — average sweeping speed is 13km/h. The fuel tank holds 90 litres of diesel, so plenty of work can be done before needing to refuel.
The design of the Azura shows a lot of attention to detail. For instance there is a large radiator to cope with hard work and high temperatures in summer and the front and rear axles are made of moulded steel without welds.
This is a strongly built machine and should stand up well to the tough conditions of urban life.
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