Isuzu goes to the max
Japan joins the big picture, writesGRAHAMSMITH
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.