Isuzu goes to the max

Ja­pan joins the big pic­ture, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport -

THE sight of a Ja­panese truck haul­ing a B-dou­ble is one that was unimag­in­able just a few years ago, but Isuzu’s new Giga­max is break­ing ground.

Ja­panese truck­mak­ers pre­dom­i­nantly have been known for their tough light and medium-duty trucks, seg­ments that they dom­i­nate, and they haven’t had a sig­nif­i­cant pres­ence in the heavy-duty mar­ket.

But that’s chang­ing with Isuzu’s move into heavy trucks, which is sure to be fol­lowed by other Ja­panese truck­mak­ers.

The up­dated 2008 Giga­max, the range-top­ping model in the up­dated Giga range, is the first Ja­panese truck to break through the 375kW bar­rier to the B-dou­ble busi­ness.

‘‘It’s the real McCoy. It’s the first Ja­panese truck in the Aus­tralian mar­ket to be rated at over 375kW,’’ Isuzu sales and mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor Phil Tay­lor says.

‘‘The re­lease of the en­hanced Giga will greatly as­sist in ef­fec­tively con­sol­i­dat­ing Isuzu in the Aus­tralian truck mar­ket, par­tic­u­larly in the heavy seg­ment where un­til now we’ve have had a much more lim­ited pres­ence,’’ he says.

Fol­low­ing the latest launch there are seven Giga mod­els, with the Giga­max EXY 510 atop the range.

It comes with a 16-litre Sitec II six-cylin­der tur­bod­iesel en­gine that punches out 382kW at 1800 revs and 2255Nm at 1300 revs.

With com­mon-rail in­jec­tion and a big turbo han­dling the in­put, the Giga­max also has cooled EGR and a diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter to take care of the ex­haust out­put.

The en­gine meets the lim­its re­quired by ADR 80/02 but it goes fur­ther and meets the Euro 5, or ADR 80/03, reg­u­la­tions that won’t come into ef­fect here for two to three years.

The Giga’s power is fed into Isuzu’s 16-speed AMT au­to­mated man­ual gear­box that can be op­er­ated in auto or man­ual modes.

Un­der­neath it rolls on Mer­i­tor front and rear axles, with steel ta­per leaf front springs and Isuzu eight­bag rear sus­pen­sion.

The Isuzu Giga­max com­fort­ably hauls a 70-tonne dou­ble-trailer, though it doesn’t have the punch of one of the 450kW trucks fil­ter­ing into the Aus­tralia mar­ket from Euro­pean com­pa­nies.

The big Isuzu takes longer to get go­ing, and has to work harder than a big­ger hauler to main­tain the speed, but there’s no sense that it’s un­der­pow­ered. It will hold its own with other trucks of a sim­i­lar power.

The Isuzu gear­box was de­vel­oped in house and is now be­ing rolled out across the Giga range in ei­ther 12 or 16-speed form. It’s well geared for smooth and steady progress, with each change made smoothly and with lit­tle break in ac­cel­er­a­tion.

If there’s any­thing that will hold the Giga­max back it’s the cab, which is a gen­er­a­tion be­hind the new light and medium-duty Isuzu mod­els . . . and the Euro­pean ri­vals with their ul­tra-com­fort­able cabs.

Though it’s ad­e­quate for lo­cal and re­gional short-haul work, it’s lim­ited for long hauls where driv­ers want more space in the main work­ing area and the sleeper com­part­ment.

The Giga­max head­lines the new Giga mod­els for 2008, but changes have been made right across the range. The work­horse C Se­ries 6x4 now has 338kW and bet­ter fuel econ­omy, as well as fea­tures such as a driver’s airbag, anti-skid brakes, an ISRI seat, power mir­rors, ECE cab safety with the op­tion of the AMT trans­mis­sion and FUPS pro­tec­tion.

The E Se­ries 6x2 and 6x4 share the same en­gine as the C Se­ries, the 338kW Sitec II 455, which has 7 per cent more power and 9.5 per cent more torque.

It also has the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion Isuzu 12-speed AMT au­to­mated man­ual gear­box.

Do­ing it: the new Isuzu Giga­max com­fort­ably hauls a trailer, though it doesn’t have the punch of the 450kW Euro­pean trucks.

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