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

Australian Transport News - - Contents - WORDS STEVE BROOKS

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.

GOOD SPEC

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.

Top: Eye spy! Re­vers­ing cam­era is part of the stan­dard equip­ment list

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