F-Series lives up to the hype
ISUZU Australia has a new managing director and CEO.
His name is Hiroshi Nishizaka, and he's an old-style career-loyal Japanese executive who joined Isuzu Motors as an engineering graduate in 1980.
His early moves were in R&D, and as Isuzu is a pure truck company, his influence in the 28 consecutive year market leading streak in Australia cannot be overstated.
At the drive day for the company's new F Series, he told me that the new four-cylinder 4HK1 engine is a major step forward for a brand that sticks with successful technology for long periods of time.
He also underlined the importance of the TC version of Isuzu's AMT transmission.
In its first generation, the Isuzu AMT was a bit of a clunker, and operators tended to put up with it because of the overall Isuzu reliability package.
But the move away from manual gearboxes, although steady, would no doubt have been faster if the box was up to the standard of the Europeans.
The addition of a torque converter to the third version has made all the difference and brought it up to standard.
Fundamentally, Isuzu's AMT problem stemmed partly from using an all-synchro gearbox as the basis for an AMT.
Conversely the slick European AMTs build an automated clutch mechanism on top of a constant mesh unit.
My drive was in the typical suburban areas where Isuzus exhibit most of their time and talents.
Isuzu had a range of eight new models, including both the new four-cylinder and upgraded six-cylinder 6HK1 unit, all loaded to around 80% load capacity.
All of the trucks were linked to Isuzu headquarters via Isuzu Telematics, and Isuzu made it clear that the company was going to be watching every gearchange, brake application, steering movement and throttle application.
With the Golden Steering Wheel award up for grabs, the competitive pressure for efficiency was on.
There's a global trend towards lower displacement engines, and that's reflected in both passenger car and truck power-plants.
However the 4HK1 at 5.2-litres is still a large capacity engine as far as cylinder size goes.
Isuzu has drawn all its emissions technology together to avoid the requirement for AdBlue in it's medium-duty truck range, and the new 4HK1 engine is redesigned from scratch.
A two stage (low pressure and high pressure sequential) turbo is used to balance power and torque timing, and complies with Japan's Post New Long Term (PNLT) standard, which according to Isuzu is equivalent to Euro VI or what will be ADR80/04.
The engine is available in two ratings - 210hp and 726Nm, or 240hp and 765Nm.
The F-Series models with the new engine also have an Idle Stop Start system, which I found was very easy to get used to.
It was no concern at intersections to have the engine stop as the re-start was instant, with the drive engaged in sequence with the starter motor.
Data from the domestic market suggest that F-Series models with this engine will deliver up to seven per cent better fuel efficiency over the previous model.
I can also confirm that the new TC version of the AMT transmission is a mile ahead of the previous model - no more pregnant pauses while the gearbox committee decides which gear to get.
As for the big-brother Telematics, analysis of the results revealed a clear winner in the Golden Steering Wheel award efficiency stakes.
Don't bother sending congratulations - cash will do.