TEST DRIVE: Plenty to like about FD 1126
HINO is in the midst of a range renewal and this firstly brought us the new-gen Hino 500 Series Wide Cab, now the Standard Cab version of the 500 has had the same treatment.
The first major overhaul of the big-selling Hino medium-duty truck in 15 years brings a significant change - fewer cylinders.
For the first time ever the Hino 500 Series Standard Cab comes with a four-cylinder engine.
That might be an instant turnoff for some prospective operators, however the real-world capabilities of the new powertrain shouldn't be so quickly dismissed.
There are 240hp and 260hp versions of the 5-litre engine on offer with torque outputs ranging 794Nm to 882Nm (all with peak torque from 1,400 rpm).
Essentially a cut down version of the six-cylinder engine found in the Wide Cab, the four-cylinder unit is fed by a two-stage turbo and uses DPR (Diesel Particulate Active Reduction System) and SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) to meet the equivalent of the Euro 6 emissions standard.
My test drive of the new Hino FD 1126 included significant time in a Curtainsider running at just under 10-tonnes GVM.
Fitted with the optional Allison 2500 six-speed auto, the new Hino made short work of some of the steepest inclines in the NSW Blue Mountains.
Impressively, when the transmission finds a lower gear while you're moving up a hill, the truck actually gains speed, and this is something not often seen in trucks. If you would prefer to change gears yourself, a six-speed manual transmission remains available in the FD variant.
I also spent a few days getting about in the tilt-tray version of the FD 1126 with a shiny new Toyota Corolla strapped on the deck.
Featuring the same engine/transmission combo as the Curtainsider, I reckon Hino will continue to dominate this segment of the tow truck market with the new offering.
Naturally, a Corolla doesn't weigh anywhere near what was loaded into the rear of the more conventional truck, however the highlight of the tilt-tray drive was just how manoeuv- rable the new truck is.
Featuring very light steering, so light in fact that you can turn corners with just one finger, the new Hino has a tight turning circle and very good visibility from the driver's seat, ensuring operators will be able to get their new truck in and out of tight spots.
There are a couple of things about the new Hino 500 Series Standard Cab that didn't quite please me.
Firstly, the steering brings almost no steering feel. Sure, there's very little play off centre, but the feel is very artificial, and this leaves you feeling a bit disconnected from what's going on under the cab.
Watch (or should that be listen?) for a rather noisy engine fan when the truck is working hard, and the engine/exhaust brake (Jake Brake) makes a sort of weird noise when functioning too.
My biggest complaint though comes from an idiosyncrasy noticed at random times in the two trucks - a less than smooth down change from the transmission. Appearing to occur when travelling at slower speeds, particularly when backing off the accelerator, the rather harsh change took some shine off the normally smooth power delivery.
The new Hino offering features leaf-spring suspension up front and that delivers an acceptable ride.
My two test trucks though were fitted with Hendrick- son rear airbags, these felt significantly better than the rear leaf-spring set-up experienced in other models on the Hino's national launch.
Drum brakes continue to feature front and rear across the range and the parking brake, a rejig of a standard Toyota car handbrake, feels a bit odd.
I'm also not a huge fan of the T-bar style transmission selector.
While there's a couple of other things inside the cab that take a little shine off.
Firstly, the driver gets an ISRI 6860 seat with all the bells and whistles - except a left armrest.
While the ADR compliant sleeper birth is only just wide enough to accommodate a regular-sized adult and is best for drivers under six-foot tall too.
My biggest complaint here though is that the "mattress" is little more than a board with a thin piece of foam on top.
If you're planning on ever using this area for a proper rest/sleep you're going to need to upgrade to something a little more humane.
Hino has fitted a bank of controls on both sides of the steering wheel, but there are no controls there for what drivers are most often using - audio volume/stereo controls and Bluetooth.
Lastly, some people might not be turned-on by the brown interior trim. No, you can't change this to something more traditional or perhaps less...shall we say exotic?
There are many things to like about this new truck too. The standard safety features include Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning and a driver's airbag.
There's driver assist features like Adaptive Cruise Control too.
Hino has done a great job with the fit and finish inside the new truck, with some of the highlights on the inside being the easy to read gauges, brilliant colour driver info screen, and numerous storage areas.
The infotainment system is also a winner and brings truck-specific sat-nav, digital radio and a highly functional telematics system (Hino Traq) as well.
Despite a few gripes with the new Hino offering there are plenty of positives, headed up, perhaps ironically, by the impressive new four-cylinder engine.