Hino drive day 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017

If the weather was a prophecy then things are looking great for Hino’s new wide cab 500 series.

Allison 6-speed nestled between the rails. The interior of the auto variant. The interior is slick and well constructed.

In a winter and spring where no one could remember what the sun actually looked like, the clouds rolled back and the sun treated Hampton Downs to an afternoon of brightness and warmth for the 2017 Hino Distributors Ltd drive day in early October.

Last year the focus was on the hybrid programme, and although still there and roaring around, the star of the show was undoubtedly the new wide cab 500 series with two pristine examples present, all set up as concrete mixers in the Allied Concrete livery.

With the new 500 series, Hino have changed tack and instead of making a little truck bigger, they’ve essentially made a big truck smaller. Something that normally works quite well. Starting with the cab, the previous shell meets UN ECE R29 crash standards and that’s been retained, however the ride’s been improved with the addition of full floating rear cab suspension. The guards have been flared and the grille’s had a makeover, bringing the looks more in line with the 700 series, something that’s going to continue to pop up across the entire range in time.

The chassis and drivetrain is where it’s all been going on though. The chassis is now a modular global design with a gauge of 840mm. This brings the truck in line with not only the 700 series, but also the gauge on other marques. The top rail is now clean and there’s a kick up front so the engine and transmission can now nestle down on under-engine mounts – a big improvement for those wanting to hang ancillary gear off them such as PTOs. The chassis steel also has a higher tensile rating at 620mpa compared with 540mpa previously.

There’s a new front axle that affords a tighter turning circle and down the back cross-locks are available ex-factory on the SH and TH17 axles, but not on the SH16 axles. The Allied trucks on display had Hendrickson HAS with ECAS as standard (Electronically Controlled Air Suspension – ‘JIC’ you forgot).

Big news on the engine front is the EGR/DPR systems have been put in the skip and the JO8E and A09C motors now achieve Euro 5 via SCR. Hino Distributors product support manager Tony Bucknell said the change is in preparation for the march toward Euro 6. The engines have a far cleaner and less cluttered look (obviously) and a smaller fan. Yes, the clutter has moved further back, but it’s not as bad as you might think.

The DEF tank and exhaust module have been split with the compact exhaust system under-mounted in the right-hand side and the tank on the left. Rejoice body-builders. It’s great news on the grunt front too. The 7.6-litre J08E now churns out 206kW (280hp) at 2500rpm and makes 883Nm (651lb/ft) at 1,500rpm. The governed engine speed is now 2700rpm too, so there’s flexibility there. Flipping the page the A09C at 8.8-litre comes in two choices, the US and UR, the US producing 235kW (320hp) at 1800rpm, and 1275Nm (940lf/ft) at 1100rpm.The UR cranks out 257kW (350hp) at 1800rpm and 1422Nm (1048lb/ft) again at 1100rpm. Complex turbos on both engines are in the skip too, replaced with good old waste-gate turbos, while the ECU and fuel injection systems on the A09C are now Denzo, not Bosch, again to bring them in line with the 700 series – and the technicians’ laptops.

There’s a range of 6- and 9-speed gearbox options in both synchro and non-synchro guises, Eaton and Hino providing the various iterations. Allison is also there with a 6-speed push-button auto.

There have been big moves in safety too. The new 500 series is the first medium-sized truck in the country to offer Vehicle Stability Control (VSR) as standard. There’s also ABS, ASR, hill start assist, cruise control and optional reversing cameras.

On the track

This year’s drive day was void of payload, which was a little disappointing. It’s hard to glean much from blatting around empty, but the 500 is certainly a bigger feeling truck. Without doubt it would have a higher intimidation factor for novices grabbing one from a dry hire situation. Ride and handling was certainly a step up in the short – empty – experience we had, again it felt like a ‘little big truck’, not the other way around.

We drove the Roadranger and the Allison. The Roadranger with a button clutch-brake was a sweet unit, although not everyone found it so. Japanese shift, feel, and placement has certainly come a long way, but there’s still a bit to go – although with gearboxes heading in the direction they are, why bother.

We also drove the Allison press-button 6-speed jobbie. What a magnificent machine for the right application. In conjunction with the exhaust brake this was seriously one-pedal, one-finger driving. You’d almost visit the mother-in-law more often than the brake pedal. We’d love a day in the city with a loaded one of these.

Other bits and pieces

All in all, another great day. There was the usual crazy but awesome backing competition, and skid-pan sessions where you can actually put all the modern electronic driving aids to use.

Truck Stops were there, showing off their business, and the continued development of exchange parts and the kitting programme is surely a winner for them. All in all, 500 out of 500 for the day...although loads on their backs again would be good.