Isuzu makes clean break
Cutting fuel consumption is the next target, writesGRAHAMSMITH
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.