Hino’s pick of the crop
In a six-wheeler rigid market saturated with good trucks, the agship FM2635 model in Hino’s revamped 500-series wide-cab range ranks with the best of them. Strong performance, exceptional road manners and a truly impressive standard speci cation combine
The agship FM2635 model in Hino’s revamped 500-series wide-cab range ranks with the best
Not often, but every now and then a new truck comes along that takes you by surprise.
Whether the surprise is good or not … well, that’s something else.
Like, if for any reason you expect a new model to be a stunningly good thing only to be left with a yawning sense of‘ so what’ after the first stretch behind the wheel, then the surprise is obviously in the disappointment rather than the delight.
On the other hand, if you’re not expecting anything particularly inspiring but in short time find yourself admiring unforeseen attributes, then perhaps surprise is the greatest indicator of a new model’s true potential.
Definitely falling into the latter category is Hino’s FM2635, one of a batch of new models released a few months back at Hino’s high-hype launch of the long-awaited and vastly rejuvenated 500-series wide- cab range.
From the get-go there was a lot to like about the new lineup and it was blatantly obvious Hino had done its homework well. Very well!
And, to be blunt, it needed to. For many years now, Hino has struggled to maintain sales momentum in key market segments, allowing industry leader Isuzu to keep its principal protagonist at a giant arm’s length and, in the process, notch a record of market domination unlikely to be ever equalled, let alone bettered.
Meantime, and for reasons rooted in Japan rather than Australia, Hino has been unable to offer the model diversity which sees Isuzu effectively offer something for everyone in the Australian market.
Simply put, Hino needed something new and something good if it were to have any hope of reining in the market leader’s momentum, most notably in the medium- duty and lighter end of the heavy- duty classes.
That something arrived in a substantially reworked 500-series wide- cab range equipped with a swathe of new and highly functional features. Most notable among many notables are significantly enhanced 8- and 9-litre engines, expanded manual and automatic transmission options, numerous drivetrain developments, and safety advances headed by the standard fi tment of a Wabco vehicle stability control ( VSC) system in all models.
Obviously relieved to fi nally have these long- overdue newcomers in the stable, Hino Motor Sales Australia chairman and chief executive officer Steve Lotter excitedly remarked: “These trucks are a game changer for us,” and took every opportunity to remind anyone in earshot that Hino could now “engage in different applications, which previously hasn’t been possible”.
To recap the broad details, the trucks cover 2- and 3-axle configurations with gross vehicle mass (GVM) ranging from 16 to 18 and 26 tonnes, and gross combination mass (GCM) ratings from 32 to 45 tonnes.
They’re easily distinguished from the previous wide- cab range and from their narrower ‘standard cab’ siblings by a bold, dark grille, and less obviously by relatively subtle changes in areas such as cab steps.
On the inside, the changes are less apparent but nonetheless noteworthy, with a new radio and information system and redesigned digital dash being the most obvious.
However, as we reported some months back, it’s underneath where
the greatest changes have been made, led by further development of Hino’s 7.7-litre J08E engine and its 8.9-litre stablemate, the A09C.
Critically, Hino says both engines benefit greatly from the adoption of an SCR emissions system to achieve Euro 5 emissions compliance, replacing the previous EGR and diesel particulate filter combination.
Obviously enough, it’s the bigger of these two 6- cylinder displacements which punches the two top-weight 6x4 models, the FM2632 auto and the FM2635 manual.
Equipped with a new turbocharger, revised water pump and cooling fan, and a swap from Bosch to Denso common-rail fuel injection, the A09C offers two performance ratings starting with a 235kW (320hp) and 1275Nm (940ft-lb) setting coupled to an Allison automatic transmission. The top toiler is a lively 257kW (350hp) rating supported by a potent 1422Nm (1049ft-lb) of torque stirring through a Hino 9-speed overdrive synchromesh transmission.
As is the way of new model launches these days, technical presentations were followed by short stints behind the wheel of various models in everything from suburban crawls to fast freeways.
Typically, though, these drive programs are little more than a snapshot of each model’s potential and, occasionally, some trucks leave you wanting more time at the helm to verify whether it’s really as good as fi rst impressions suggest.
Such a truck was the FM2635.
Again, Hino appears to have done its development work well in tailoring the new range to specific market segments, and nowhere is this more evident than in the two tandem- drive FM models.
While both share a GVM of 26 tonnes, the FM2632 is logically targeted at metro applications, while the Allison automatic is right at home in stop-start suburban slogs.
Its bigger brother can obviously cope with the same work, but, with a 9-speed overdrive manual box working behind a more potent version of the same engine, the FM2635 is a model more suited to longer regional runs than ’round-town rambles.
Of course, the long-term durability of manual synchromesh transmissions is not a particularly positive feature for some fleet operators, but, in Hino’s favour, its is at least a shifter designed to cope with the outrageously heavy rigid loads and harsh conditions of some Asian countries.
It’s worth noting, too, that the ’ 35 comes with a substantially higher GCM rating of 45 tonnes compared to the 2632’s 36.5 tonnes.
Anyway, Hino’s offer to take the FM2635 for another run was grabbed with both hands for the simple reason that the only stint behind the wheel of this model on the launch drive program was extremely brief and on a part of the route with few challenges for such a well- endowed workhorse.
A longer, tougher run was called for and, fortunately, you don’t have to travel too far from Hino headquarters on Sydney’s southern rim to find a good mix of suburban streets, fast freeways, long pulls and sharp descents. Indeed, the run down to industrial Wollongong comes with a couple of classics – the deep drop down Bulli Pass and the long slog up Mt Ousley.
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