This Fuso gets a bit of German help
BUY a Mitsubishi and get a Mercedes engine,’’ sounds like a pretty good sales pitch.
That’s exactly what the people who sell Mitsubishi Fuso Heavy trucks can claim. If you have reasonable powers of deduction, you probably twigged the Heavy is the model in the Mitsubishi Fuso range you buy to tow the heaviest loads.
It’s a 6x4 prime mover with a proper B-double rating that can tow up to 60 tonnes (including the weight of the truck, the trailer and the load), so it is the real deal.
This big truck is a quiet seller and was recently given an overhaul, including the latest engine and transmission from Benz, which actually owns almost all of Mitsubishi-Fuso.
The company hasn’t made much of the fact and the truck has soldiered on with little fuss.
We picked up a Heavy from Fuso’s latest dealership in Breakwater, Geelong, which had installed a water tank for demonstration runs.
It feels strange to climb up so high into the cab of a Mitsubishi Fuso. Along with most people, the tiny Canter always pops into my mind when someone mentions the Japanese brand.
The cabin is spacious and utilitarian. Don’t go looking for any woodgrain or premium trim as this is a humble Japanese truck built for work. Not that it’s uncomfortable or hard to use— all the controls are clear and easy to reach. There is an ADR-approved sleeper bed behind the two seats, although it’s not all that wide and I’mnot sure I would approve of spending much time sleeping there. Still, it would be good place for a nap.
There is good visibility in the cab and the passenger door even has a second window, which sits below the waistline allowing the driver to look down and get a much better view of corners and also spot other drivers who might try and nip up the inside when you are attempting to turn.
I fire up the engine and flick the shifter into Drive.
Both the engine and transmission come from Mercedes. The engine is a 12-litre in-line six-cylinder with 335kW (455hp) and 2200Nm and is hooked up to a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system that uses AdBlue exhaust treatment fluid.
This engine has considerable punch and pulls strongly up some long hill climbs.
The 12-speed transmission is a rebranded version of the Mercedes-Benz Powershift II automated manual— there is no regular manual available.
This would have to be the weak point of the truck going by our drive impression.
Turning through an intersection, the gearbox can get confused and shift up when it should hold a gear and can sometimes pause and try and make up its mind. All the while, the truck is losing speed and drivers are frustrated by your blocking of the intersection.
It works well in most conditions, with relatively quick changes, but it is the lowspeed acceleration that tends to cause confusion.
When I returned the truck I was told the best option was to treat the transmission as a manual without a clutch by flicking it into the manual mode and changing every gear.
This is good advice for a driver to get around the issue, but is not ideal and eats into the fuel economy advantage of an AMT.
The engine brake works well at pulling up the vehicle without having to touch the brake pedal.
Other than the niggling transmission issue, the Heavy drive experience is good and it is remarkably easy to get about in. The rear air suspension allows for comfortable ride even with lower cargo weights.