Isuzu FRR

Isuzu FRR

Recent research has shown that road haulage in Australia is predominantly the territory of Japanese medium-duty trucks, 95 per cent of which start and finish within the same state or territory.

This puts Isuzu in the box seat to take advantage with its all-new F Series, rolled out for the media to sample in and around Brisbane. Has the Japanese-developed-and-built range got what it takes?

With nine variants on show Isuzu appears to have ticked all the appropriate boxes and more by harnessing the advantages of low- displacement, high-output engine technology.

Prime example is the new 4HK1 5.2-litre, four-cylinder, two-stage, turbocharged intercooled diesel engine available in two power ratings, considered the cleanest medium-duty Japanese diesel engine available in Australia.

Opening the score is a 154 kW unit producing 726 Nm of torque, to be found on FRR and FRD 4×2 variants, and FSS 4×4 with gross vehicle masses spanning 10.7 to 11 tonnes.

The peak performer puts out 177 kW and 765 Nm and is used on FRR at 11 tonnes GVM and FSR at 12 and 14 tonnes GVM.

Mated with Isuzu’s new automated manual transmission with torque converter replicating take-off characteristics of a full automatic, the package is completed by either 4×2 or 4×4 operation.

A two-stage turbocharger ensures even, unbroken power throughout the rev range, while some models include engine stop / start technology which decreases fuel consumption, trims emissions to Euro VI standard.

The F Series also makes use of the Isuzu 6HK1 DOC engine mated with Isuzu six-speed manual transmission or Allison LCT2500 six-speed automatic.

Isuzu FSR

Isuzu FSR

The 7.8-litre six-cylinder diesel motor pumps out 191 kW of power at 2400 rpm and 761 Nm of torque between 1450 and 2400 revs. Again with a Euro V equivalent emissions rating.

A range of wheelbases and model variants, including day cab, crew cab, Tautliner, tilt tray, agitator, 6×2, medium and long wheelbase, all suited to urban or medium-range transport needs, are covered in the latest F Series.

On launch drive, the six-cylinder powered vehicles provided a much quieter cabin environment enhanced by air suspension seating, while drivers enjoyed the advantage of extra-large wing mirrors specially developed by Isuzu in Australia.

Standard sat nav across the range came to the aid of testers more than once when pace notes came up wanting.

Tradies were not left out of the picture, with Isuzu’s NLR 45-150 Servicepack on hand to show what can be done for those without a truck licence. Based on the Isuzu N Series, this is a bespoke travelling workshop with a fully powder-coated steel service body, seven lockable storage compartments with a total volume of 2.9 cubic metres, including a 2.08 m by 1.0 m central storage area with chequer-plate floor and six tie-down points and 2.5 tonne rated towbar with integrated rear step.

Each compartment has LED lighting and locking is integrated with the vehicle central locking system. The central storage incorporates a rear barn door, there are rear grab handles and non-slip steps and an Isuzu reversing camera.

Power is provided by a 3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine putting out 110 kW of power at 2800 rpm and 375 Nm of torque between 1600 and 2800 revs. Emissions are equivalent to a Euro V rating.

Isuzu 4HK1 engine

Isuzu 4HK1 engine

Standard is a five-speed manual transmission, while a six-speed Automated Manual Transmission with fully automatic and clutchless manual modes is an option.

Front axles are rated for 2600 kg, the rear for 5000 kg, brakes are vacuum-assisted discs all round with ABS anti-skid capability, brake-force distribution and traction control. Electronic stability control and Hill Start Assist are standard, the latter except on AMT pack.

Passenger vehicle niceties extend to the cabin, with contoured adjustable driver’s bucket seat and front passenger bench seat to take two. Storage space abounds and, with the AMT Pack, smokers can take advantage of a cigarette lighter and driver’s side ashtray.

Also on the list is a two-speaker radio/CD/DVD Digital Audio Visual Entertainment (DAVE) unit with 6.2-inch LCD touch screen. DAB+ digital radio and fully integrated Bluetooth with voice recognition.

This is backed up by 4GB internal storage for music files. USB/SD card and Aux input connection and there’s a storage compartment that will also take a CB radio.

As far as driving is concerned not only have commercial vehicles come a long way as far as comfort is concerned, ragged performance has been all-but ironed out, the Servicepack giving a smooth ride on varied road surfaces and, while nowhere near rubber shredding performer went on its way in an easy, even gentle, manner.

Isuzu has been the top seller of trucks in Australia, its largest export market, for the past 27 years. The F Series is in a position to help the Japanese maker continue to carry off the title.

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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