Isuzu makes clean break

Cut­ting fuel con­sump­tion is the next tar­get, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - -

THE new fuel-ef­fi­cient FRD 500 medium-duty truck is a fore­taste of a cleaner, greener fu­ture, one that is closer than you may think. Isuzu’s medium-duty truck is so ad­vanced it al­ready meets fuel-con­sump­tion tar­gets man­dated by the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment for 2015.

It’s one of three mod­els in the cur­rent Isuzu range that meets the tar­gets, a taste of what’s to come in the fu­ture be­yond the cur­rent ex­haust emis­sion-re­duc­tion agenda.

Though Aus­tralia still trails the rest of the world in ex­haust emis­sion re­duc­tion, trucks else­where are fast ap­proach­ing the point where they are so clean the gases com­ing out of the tailpipe are cleaner than the air go­ing into the en­gine.

With such a big im­pact al­ready achieved, gov­ern­ments are turn­ing their at­ten­tion to what should fol­low the laws that have slashed NOx and par­tic­u­late mat­ter our trucks are spew­ing forth.

It’s clear the next prob­lem to ad­dress is cli­mate change and that means cut­ting green­house-gas emis­sions. For trucks, that means cut­ting fuel con­sump­tion, which is what the 2015 Ja­panese laws are all about.

The Ja­panese gov­ern­ment has al­ready sig­nalled its path­way by man­dat­ing fu­el­con­sump­tion re­duc­tions for trucks by 2015.

Isuzu has be­gun work­ing on achiev­ing the tar­gets and has mod­els that com­ply now.

Lo­cally, Isuzu is sell­ing an N-Se­ries model with a new 3.0-litre en­gine that al­ready meets the law, and a heavy-duty Giga with a 9.8-litre en­gine also achieves the tar­get.

The FRD 500 medium-duty truck driven by Big Wheels is an­other model to meet the new lim­its.

The key change is the new 154kW 5.2-litre four-cylin­der en­gine that pow­ers the FRD 500 and its FRR 500 close cousin; it has more per­for­mance than the six-cylin­der en­gine fit­ted to the old model, and at the same time de­liv­ers sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter fuel econ­omy.

‘‘It’s not only more eco­nom­i­cal, it also out­per­forms the 142kW en­gine in the old model,’’ Isuzu en­gi­neer­ing and prod­uct plan­ning chief Si­mon Humphries says.

‘‘Isuzu’s strat­egy is to have a smaller dis­place­ment en­gine putting out the same power and torque of the larger en­gine it re­placed.’’

With 154kW and 637Nm on tap the FRD 500 gets go­ing strongly and ac­cel­er­ates hard and fast through the six-speed all-syn­chro man­ual gear­box as the speed climbs.

It has plenty of punch down low, pulls strongly through the gears, and still has good pickup in the 80-100km/h re­gion.

Peak power of 154kW is reached at 108km/h in top gear; at 100km/h the Sitec II 205 en­gine is turn­ing over at 2200 revs.

It gets even bet­ter for the driver be­cause it’s very quiet in­side the cab, where it’s al­most pos­si­ble to hear a pin drop.

The FRD 500 Big Wheels drove was the 5320mm ex­tra-long wheel­base model weigh­ing in at 10.4-tonne GVM and fit­ted with a 10-pal­let cur­tain­sider.

Though it per­forms well on the road it also gets the job done on the in­side, where the driver is treated to a high level of com­fort.

It’s not only quiet, but with an ISRI air seat iso­lat­ing the bumps in the road the ride is as comfortable as sit­ting in the lounge chair at home.

Throw in air­con­di­tion­ing, the com­fort of power mir­rors and win­dows, ad­just­ment for the steer­ing wheel, a de­cent CD sound sys­tem with MP3 com­pat­i­bil­ity, and the light clutch and gearshift and the truck driver has never had it bet­ter.

Sav­ing grace: the FRD 500’s new 154kW 5.2-litre four-cylin­der en­gine has in­creased per­for­mance and bet­ter fuel econ­omy; and the cab (inset) of­fers a new level in driver com­fort.

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