Heavy hit­ter

This Fuso gets a bit of Ger­man help

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Working Wheels - JAMES STAN­FORD james.stan­ford@cars­guide.com.au

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.

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