WHAT happens when the Germans and Japanese get together?
Well in the case of the commercial vehicle industry the combination of Mitsubishi Fuso and Daimler together means a sharing of technology and an enhancement of product offerings.
The Fuso's Heavy Duty product now in Australia sees the sharing of the Mercedes OM457 12-litre six cylinder inline engine and combined with the Fuso Inomat II 12-speed automated gearbox ready and able to meet emissions standard ADR 80/03 relying on Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology.
This combination gives Fuso the most power it has had in its range with up to 455hp (335 kW), as well as an easily driven machine.
Automated boxes have become much better over time and this one is great.
However, as is the case when the vehicle does come to Australia, there will no doubt be options to fit other boxes on the request of customers. Most manufactures in this market are, to a certain degree, flexible.
It was a sneak peak of the Australian specification trucks that'll be coming after all the testing is complete and a great chance to drive on the high speed track that's part of the Kitsuregawa Proving Ground, where Fuso does all its R&D, 250Km out of Tokyo.
The new Heavy Duty range consists of FP 4x2, FV 6x4 and FS 8x4 versions and the specifications at this stage are only in draft form and may be changed closer to the release date.
The engines come in three variations for the range OM457-T2 Diesel, OM457-T3 Diesel and OM457-T5 Diesel and the power and torque ranges from 295 kW to 335 kW @ 1,900 rpm and torque ranges from 2,000 to 2,200 Nm @ 1,100 rpm, and GCMs from 16 to 60 tonnes,
The Inomat II we drove also comes in differing configurations G330 and G230 to suit different applications.
I tested the Australian specced 6x4 prime mover and the 8x4 heavy rigid.
The upgraded models have been modernised and look more like the medium-duty Fighter.It is a workhorse and adequately appointed for what it needs to do with durable vinyl interior and grey cloth trim with easy to read displays.
One thing you won't see however is the fancy audio visual system or Bluetooth connectivity. The stereo is basic AM/FM/CD unlike Japanese competitors who now offer digital stereos with big displays for viewing optional reversing, side and front cameras, GPS or pick up and delivery enterprise software. The cab is mounted higher on the chassis to increase air flow to the engine.
It also now has a high roof cab and alloy rims on the FS and FV models for the first time.
We managed to test out two variants of the Australian specification in Japan.
The ride was smooth and pulling was a breeze driving bobtail. Both versions were straight from the factory and had no weight onboard. It isn't real world conditions that you'd find on Australian roads but it does give you an idea of how the driveline behaves. The combination of the OM457 engine with the INOMAT II gearbox handles well and the automated box actually adjusts itself to suit the weight. This can only mean a safer driving experience.
The standard features are included, but not limited to Hill Start System and Cruise Control, Electric Windows, Trailer Package Including Trailer "Stretch Brake" and Fluorescent Cabin Lamp.
However, although plain at the test track, there were a lot of blinged up Super Greats in Tokyo itself and I recall a great looking version in Hanover at the IAA Show on the Daimler stand a few years back with a chrome grill. Perfect for the Australian market.