Isuzu's light-duty workhorse, the N Series, has been an industry leader for a quarter of a decade and we're about to get an even better offering.
The upcoming range features six new model variants, superior technology and best of all, Isuzu's third-generation AMT transmission with torque converter, which they've nailed this time.
A key trend with the updates is Isuzu's belief that key markets are moving towards two pedal trucks, away from traditional manual setups, for reasons including ease-of-use, maintenance costs and fatigue management.
Among the new model variants joining the ranks are the NNR 65-150 MWB and the NNR 65-150 AMT MWB models.
Both the NNR 65-150 models run the efficient 4 cylinder, 4JJ1 engine, and are rated at 6,500 kg GVM.
Transmission options include the Isuzu Manual Transmission, a tried and tested runner, or new TC-AMT with P-position, a parking gear built into the gearbox making it more like a car you'd put into 'park'.
Another new kid on the block is the NNR 55/45-150 which comes at 5,500 kg GVM as standard, with an option to de-rate to 4,500 kg GVM.
The NNR 55/45-150 boats upgraded rear disc brakes, which well and truly do the job, and the option of the new TC-AMT gearbox.
Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) Chief Engineer, Product Strategy, Simon Humphries, says the manufacturer has offered a class leading range for 27 years, thanks to the company's focus on offering transport solutions specifically for the Australian market.
"We've been number one for a long time and Isuzu Motors Japan want to do what they can to assist us in our efforts to stay in the top spot," Mr Humphries said.
"They continue to collaborate with us to ensure we have the best possible products to offer the local market, and that our trucks perform at the highest possible level in Australian conditions.
"This ongoing product development and close relationship with Japan provides our customers with enormous benefits in terms of having more choice, greater access to the latest technology and more driveability across the entire range."
The car market has continued to move towards small-capacity engines and has achieved considerable performance while remaining fuel efficient and reliable.
Isuzu's answer to this shift is its three litre 4JJ1 engine, which in standard guise makes 110 kW at 2,800 RPM and 375 Nm at just 1,600 RPM.
The four cylinder engine now powers models up to 6.5 tonnes GVM across the N Series range, and it makes plenty of torque whether matched with the manual or AMT options.
"Passenger cars feature almost exclusively two-pedal transmissions today and they have been progressively moving toward high performing, low displacement engines in recent years, a trend we see occurring in the truck market as well," Mr Humphries said.
"For commercial vehicles, the benefits are improved fuel economy and performance that is more than up to the task."
The 2016 N Series models with the third-generation AMT are an enormous leap forward in the light-duty arena, and the torque converter box does a sensational job of intuitively choosing the right gear for the situation.
One of the more interesting features of the Australian-specific TC-AMT is a new kick-down detent on the accelerator, which forces the gearbox to kick down with the right amount of pressure through the pedal.
"Roundabouts are not a common feature of the Japanese road landscape, so once again, we have developed this with Isuzu Motors for Australia," Mr Humphries said.
"The end result is a predictable response for the driver, as the transmission will kick-down one or two gears quickly when the accelerator is pressed beyond the detent."
From the engine to the gearbox, and even the visibility, the N Series trucks are designed to offer a car-like experience and in the fast-moving urbanised world of light-duty transport, this might be a smart move.
IAL Chief Operation Officer and Director, Phil Taylor, says that developing vehicles for the Australian market is a key element in Isuzu's mission.
"Every aspect of the new N Series updates has been adopted with our customers top of mind, and we're positive the latest range of enhancements will be extremely well-received by those looking for greater efficiencies and performance across the board," Mr Taylor said.
"With the MY16, the nation's favourite light duty truck has some intelligent new updates, with a raft of added extras to cement the range as one of the safest, most flexible truck models on the road."
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