Competition in the Heavy Duty sector between Japanese truck brands has been instrumental in all of the OEMs’ making serious efforts to outdo each other as each wave of new model is planned and subsequently released.
This results in the current situation where the decision of one over another can be a difficult choice.
The buying decision has recently become even more complicated because of the availability of the latest Hino 700 Series in which, to quote Hino Australia’s Product Strategy Manager Daniel Petrovski, “everything other than the chassis rails has been changed”. Hino’s commitment to the Australian market is unquestioned as evidenced by the range on offer here currently standing at 178 models, with the 700 Series expanding from ten models to 19.
The specifications and real world performance of this latest 700 series range show that Hino is now as serious about the heavy duty end of the market as it has previously been in its more traditional light and medium duty sectors where it has earned solid sales successes over many years. The 6×2 truck provided for this test is the FS2632 model, fitted with a curtainsider body typical of trucks suited to short haul and metropolitan distribution applications.
The Hino is loaded to a gross weight of 18.5 tonnes, well short of its 26 tonne GVM, but certainly enough to provide an indication of the 700’s performance with a realistic average load aboard.
The 6×2 configuration is becoming increasingly popular as operators seek to maximise payload while still reducing initial and operational costs. The standard fitment of polished Alcoa wheels across the entire 700 Series adds to both payload and visual appeal.
The front axle rides on taper leaf springs while at the rear Hendrickson’s road friendly certified HAS airbag suspension provides a smooth and stable ride.
A six-rod mechanical rear suspension is also available as an option on this model. The test route incorporates a variety of roads and conditions ranging from the NSW Central Coast to the Illawarra area including the challenging Mount Ousley, and back up into the Southern Highlands with everything in between including braving the Sydney traffic.
There are three cab heights available across the new Hino 700 Series and all meet the current ECE R29 cab strength standard and are air suspended on all corners to insulate the occupants from the road.
The interior of the cabs have a Tardis effect due mostly to the additional 40mm of headroom achieved by locating the hood lining closer to the cab’s roof structure.
The test truck’s cab has three bar chrome grille elements which indicate it is powered by the 9.0-litre engine (13.0-litre models have a similar designed four bar grille.) The new Euro 6 A09C long stroke engine is a variant of 9.0-litre engine available in the Hino 500 Series Wide Cab and also shares some heritage with the all-conquering Hino Dakar Rally racing trucks.
There are two power ratings of 320hp and 360hp available in the 9.0-litre powered 700s depending upon the model and wheelbase. The 320hp engine has exceptionally flat power and torque curves and delivers maximum torque of 1,275 Nm between 1,100 and 1,600 rpm.
It is backed by an Allison 3200 torque convertor transmission which has over drive ratios on the top two of its six-speeds. The rear axle ratio of 5.25:1 combines well with the intuitive Allison to provide a good balance of lively acceleration, hill conquering torque and all the while delivering good fuel economy.
According to the HinoConnect telematics, over the test distance of 248 kilometres the Hino returned an average of 1.95 km/lt, with a high of 2.6km/lt across a 51 kilometre section of mostly freeway driving. The engine meets Euro 6 emission standards through the combination of Diesel Oxidation Catalyst, a Diesel Particulate Filter and Selective Catalytic Reduction using AdBlue fluid.
The emission system has been tweaked to the tune of using up to two per cent less AdBlue fluid then previous models which may not seem much, but in this current world of AdBlue shortages every little bit helps.
The complex yet efficient exhaust system provides the added benefit of significantly reducing the engine’s noise. The new Hino 700 range now features an Electronic Braking System (EBS) combined with the Hino Taper Roller brake system, which enhances braking performance and reduces maintenance requirements.
Hino has moved from S-cam braking to the taper roller design to reduce tare weight, decrease compressed air requirements, and deliver a smoother brake feel for the driver.
The reduced maintenance is due to less moving parts. The braking performance is significantly boosted by the engine’s Jacobs Brake which provides perfect speed control on declines such as Mount Ousley.
The effects of the blended braking system is as good as anything from Europe.
Hino’s approach to safety is further showcased by the integration of its SmartSafe system which has Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) as its cornerstone and now includes a Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Pedestrian Detection (PD), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Reverse Camera and a suite of other standard safety features including a driver’s airbag and a pre-tensioning seatbelt integrated into the ISRI seat.
The driver’s seat has significantly increased aft travel compared with previous 700 Series and in combination with the multi adjustable steering column, should accommodate any driver’s physique.
The LDWS incorporates a ‘weaving’ warning if it detects the truck is excessively moving within its lane and signals the driver even prior to the wheels crossing a painted line. There is a degree of additional confidence achieved from being aware the VSC can help prevent the truck from rolling over when entering or exiting a corner too fast.
VSC is also able to enhance vehicle stability on slippery surfaces by autonomously reducing engine power and applying the brakes to individual wheels, helping to keep the truck on the driver’s intended path in almost all conditions.
A Driver Monitor system has been added into the Hino SmartSafe package which includes a camera mounted unobtrusively on the A pillar which constantly monitors the driver’s attention to the driving task by using key metrics such as driving posture, face orientation, and eyelid status. The system provides a visual and audible alert if it detects recognised signs of drowsiness or a lack of attention from the driver.
Driver performance is monitored and reported via the HinoConnect telematics system and is also displayed on the 7-inch LCD screen located in the dash bezel in front of the driver.
The colour display changes subtly from blue to green according to the level of fuel-efficient driving and includes driver reminders about such matters as excess idle times or unnecessarily harsh acceleration. Assess to the cab is via a safe set of staggered and illuminated steps and well positioned grab handles.
The ergonomics stylists have provided a functional yet very comfortable driver focused interior which features a wraparound dash which delivers a ‘cockpit’ feel with all controls and logically arranged switches easily accessed without having to stretch to reach any of them.
Our test takes place on a summer day and the automatic climate control is a refreshing addition with its “set and forget” function. Australia is an important market for Hino and ranks fourth or fifth globally in terms of annual unit volumes. Similar to its parent Toyota, Hino is turning its vision to the middle of this century.
It’s worth noting, that a hybrid version of the 700 is already available for sale in Japan.