Fuso Fortune

As part of the Daimler Trucks Group, Fuso is confirming its future

The release of the Eco Canter hybrid in its second generation form is well documented , but there’s a lot more to the current Fuso range than just its hybrid light trucks.

Note the use these days of the name Fuso, without the customary Mitsubishi brand tagged in front. With memories of the Japanese parent company fading as fast as cherry blossom in the autumn, the truck maker is now trying to shake off its previous identity to link more with its new German parent. That said, the distinctive three diamonds logo remains as an integral part of the company branding, and so too does the reference to morbidly obese pseudo sumo wrestlers that harps back to the days of the “Not So Squeezy” ad campaign.

Delivery has been out and about in Western Melbourne behind the wheel of the latest versions of the Canter in narrow cab form (which Fuso calls the City Cab), and in wide cab form (which doesn’t get a different name at all).

We’ll start with one of the smallest weight categories, and the City Cab Tipper comes with some design features that could just tip the balance towards its purchase from others competing in the same category. Light_trucks_Fuso-7

Driven on a standard car licence, the City Cab Tipper is bodied to the same width dimensions as the cab itself when the mirrors are folded in flush to the doors. The thought behind this is that, in very confined spaces, the operator gets maximum width and therefore peak payload. What is not so clear, though, is how to avoid scrapes and dents when reversing if the driver can’t use the mirrors.

One design feature Delivery did like was the decision by Fuso to mount the spring hangers underneath the chassis rails and not on a separate bracket system on the outside of the chassis rails. This means that axle location is extended out further and there are consequent gains in stability. Also on that score, the tipper body is mounted on a reinforced chassis rail without a sub-frame, lowering the loading height, again for better stability.

Standard fare on the rear axle are lug-tread tyres for maximum grip in off-road conditions, and Fuso adds a limited slip differential to reduce wheel slip and help traction. No all-wheel-drive version of the tipper is currently offered in our market, but we are assured it is already available in other countries. If you want an all-wheel-drive light tipper then we suggest you lobby hard for it to your local dealer.

Service intervals of light trucks with diesel engines have sometimes been annoyingly frequent, but for Fuso buyers there’s good news. Maintenance intervals are every 30,000 km, twice that of some of its competitors. Warranty cover is three years/100,000 km for the Canter and 24/7 roadside assist is included.

Power comes in the form of an in-line four-cylinder, double overhead camshaft diesel with four valves per cylinder and a variable geometry turbocharger with an air-to-air intercooler. This 3.0-litre unit produces maximum power of 110 kW from 2,840-3,500 rpm and peak torque of 370 Nm rated from 1,350 through to 2,840 rpm, and it’s completely Euro V compliant, thanks to a diesel particulate filter. No need here for AdBlue (DEF).

It’s your call whether to opt for a standard five-speed manual gearbox or go for the trendy new Duonic automated manual transmission that offers six ratios.

As a load lugger destined to be working at peak capacity on pretty much every trip, the suspension designers playLight_trucks_Fuso-3ed safe, installing leaf springs front and rear. We’ll bring you more details on ride comfort in a future issue, when we can spend more time in the Canter tipper and experience it in extended use on an everyday basis.

If you stay with the Tipper 515 version for the benefit of being able to use car-licence holders behind the wheel, you will limit your GVM to 4,500 kg. If you choose the 715 model, it comes with a GVM of 6,500 kg and a higher rated rear axle. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that both are identical, because there are differences, notably also with disc brake size on the front and rear axles, which increase from 235 x 40 mm to 310 x 40 mm. The rear spring pack on the 715 also gains helper leaves.

If you choose the Duonic AMT for its ability to change gears unaided, you miss out on a clutch pedal. Unlike the Canter Eco Hybrid, you can’t have idle stop/start (although it is available in some markets), but you can change ratios manually by jiggling the gear selection lever. Delivery actually preferred shifting the AMT manually, as it seems to create a slicker shift pattern and reduce shift delays.

The braking system can offer you antilock brakes and electronic brake distribution, but doesn’t back up this set with a full electronic stability programme. Both the driver and front seat passenger do score SRS airbags, which will prove their value in the event of close encounters of the frontal kind.

If you need more person carrying capacity, there’s a crew-cab version available to seat six or seven, including the driver. Three weight ranges run from 4,500 kg through 7,500 kg to peak at 8,200 kg, and to power these three alternatives there are two engines: the first is identical with the Canter tipper mentioned above, the second comes in with a bit more grunt at 129 kW produced at 2,860 through to 3,500 rpm, and a higher torque rating of 430 Nm rated from 1,600-2,860 rpm.

With disc brakes once again on all wheel ends, the crew cab differs from the tipper by offering coil and wishbone front suspension and parabolic leaf springs on the rear axle. It’s kinder to the load and also an improvement for the driver and passengers.

The transmission choice once again includes the Duonic AMT on all three versions, but those looking for a five-speed manual will only find it available in the 918 model, the highest GVM version.

The Canter 413 City Cab chassis shares the same coil and wishbone independent front suspension of the crew-cab version, and, with a GVM of 3,510 kg, this is a logical alternative to all those nursery and garden centres that liked the no longer available Kia K2900.

Running on 15-inch rims, it’s close to the ground for a deck height with easy loading and, once again, it’s available with a five-speed manual or six-speed Duonic AMT. Maximum power is a bit less at 96 kW from 3,050-3,500 rpm, and peak torque of 300 Nm comes in at 1,300 rpm and stays available through to 3,050 rpm. Light_trucks_Fuso-5

If you want a wider cab you can opt for the Canter 615, and in 4×2 form it offers a tad more power and torque (110 kW and 370 Nm), as the GVM climbs again to 6,000 kg. Prepare to enjoy every road bump, as the suspension shifts back from an independent front end to multi-leaf springs.

Although we tend to think of the Canter as being a typical light truck, there are 38 different models covering a weight range that starts at 3,510 GVM and extends up to 8,200 kg GVM. Eleven of these options can be driven on a car licence, but if you want more payload you’ll need to send your drivers on a light rigid course.

Delivery suggests that you drive the Duonic before ordering sight unseen, as it may not be everyone’s idea of shifting perfection. In our evaluation of a wide selection of Fuso models, with manual and AMT transmission, we found quite a difference between various trucks and the behaviour of their respective Duonic installations.

Similar comments are also relevant to the Eco Hybrid Canter. This is only available with the Duonic AMT transmission, multi-leaf front springs and semi-elliptical springs on the rear axle. With a GVM of 7,500 kg, there’s a bonus in vehicle performance as the 110 kW/370 Nm diesel four-cylinder gets a boost from a 40 kW electric motor that backs up with a further 220 Nm of torque.

If you are operating light trucks around the inner city and have to cope with all the steep hills of Brisbane, the Eco Hybrid Canter is a no brainer. In Adelaide, where hills are nowhere to be seen, it may not be such a clear-cut decision.

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