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Win the Gotcha4Life ‘home-base’ truck

 

Probably the most-filmed Isuzu N Series of 2022 is being raffled, with the proceeds going to Gotcha4Life, Australia’s leading not-for-profit mental fitness foundation. Read below to find out how the truck performs and how to win it.

 

 

 

This comprehensively equipped Isuzu was designed around the popular NNR 45-150 Crew AMT, with Service Pack bodywork. The bulk of these 4×2 trucks serve as maintenance vehicles, carrying crews and their equipment to worksites all over Australia. 

Able to be driven by car-licensed drivers, the NNR Crew Cab has car-type safety equipment, more than twice the payload of a crew cab ute, independent front suspension, AMT automated transmission and comfortable seating for up to seven, including the driver. RRP is around the same as that of an auto crew-cab ute.

The Isuzu NNR 45-150 was the first choice of Gus Worland, founder of Gotcha4Life, Australia’s leading not-for-profit Mental Fitness foundation and the host of Channel 9’s Today Show, Karl Stefanovic, when they designed a road trip, branded Mateship Miles.

Mateship Miles reached out to communities in regional Victoria, regional NSW and ACT, with the goal of promoting improved Mental Fitness, leading towards zero suicides, through meaningful conversations.

 

Isuzu’s Simon Humphries and Karl Stefanovic

 

To support this great initiative, Isuzu trucks and key suppliers Service Bodies Australia, Redarc Electronics and Weber BBQs constructed a customised Isuzu NNR 45-150 AMT Crew model, specifically for the road trip. 

On the Mateship Miles road trip the truck was co-driven by Isuzu Truck Australia’s chief engineer, Simon Humphries, who also proved adept at cooking hundreds of sausages, supplied by Woolworths.

The standard Service Pack bodywork was enhanced with a water tank, lithium batteries and Redarc charging and management equipment, twin front-opening refrigerators, a Nespresso professional coffee machine, a large-screen outdoor television, two portable Weber BBQs, with LPG bottles and a pair of roll-out awnings.

 

 

The Gotcha4Life completed rig is valued at around $150,000.

Mateship Miles generated more than $100,000 in donations to Gotcha4Life and sales of raffle tickets to win the Isuzu are expected to dwarf that amount.   

Isuzu and Gotcha4Life are now exploring ways to extend the partnership to continue to spread the positive message of Mental Fitness.

“The transport and logistics industry – especially its population of drivers and equipment operators – is male-dominated,” said Simon Humphries. 

“This industry has a great need to hear and apply the simple messages and tools that Gotcha4Life provides.  

“If our combined efforts save just one life, then it has been worth it, however I am confident that we can actively and consistently contribute to a significant reduction in the suicide rate in our industry and local communities.”

To assist in Gotcha4Life’s work, follow this link: https://www.gotcha4life.org/ and to purchase a raffle ticket: https://www.raffletix.com.au/gotcha4lifeisuzuraffle.

 

What the winner will get

 

 

The NNR 45-150 Crew AMT Gotcha4Life was set up as a function truck that would be ideal for sporting clubs, or as a ‘mother ship’ for camping groups. The truck’s equipment was designed to operate ‘off grid’, thanks to six Redarc 180W solar panels, charging lithium batteries via a Manager30 battery management system with RedVision screen. Redarc also provided a 3000W inverter and two BCDC1250D DC chargers.

The electrical and electronics package powered a pair of fridges and ran the large coffee machine and external TV.

All this gear and a water tank slotted neatly into the Service Pack bodywork, highlighting its flexibility. The LPG bottles were stowed in the open, in the cargo tray and the Weber BBQs strapped easily into the lockable bodywork.

A plus for the Service Pack bodywork is that it locked and unlocked automatically when the cab locking remote was pressed.

 

 

OTA’s Allan Whiting picked up the Gotcha4Life truck from Sydney’s Suttons Isuzu dealership, where it was easy to locate, in a parking lot full of white Isuzus. The blue and pink livery made it stand out like the proverbials! That prominence carried over to my two-day driving stint, when the brightly coloured vehicle drew constant attention.

The NNR 4-150 Crew suited its role as a ute-alternative, because it provided easy entry and access, a very tight turning circle and excellent driver vision, thanks to huge flat mirrors, convex spotters for a good view of the rear wheels and a standard reversing camera.

Overall chassis length of just over six metres was the same as the RAM Ute 2500’s OAL and the Isuzu’s wheelbase of 3.4 metres was shorter than the ute’s. It easily manoeuvred into spaces that the OTA LandCruiser 70 Series couldn’t manage without several back-and-forth efforts.

The long-serving, jerky-shift Isuzu AMT improved out of sight when the company slotted a torque converter into the driveline a couple of years ago. It still couldn’t match the snappy shift speed of a typical ute automatic box, but it suited the Gotcha4Life truck’s role well – after all, why race when there’s a coffee machine and a pair of beer and food fridges in the back!

The narrow-cab NMR has a suspension driver’s seat, but a quirk in the factory production process means that a suspension seat can’t be fitted to crew cabs, so the NNR Crew had a fixed driver’s seat. However, the Crew version had a lower-load-rated front suspension than the Standard cab – 2600kg vs 3100kg – so ride quality from the coil-wishbone setup was very good, even without a suspension seat.

This seating commonality may be a good thing in the case of a seven-up NNR, where the passengers can’t accuse the driver of getting preferential treatment!

 

Isuzu’s ADAS

The Gotcha4Life truck scored Isuzu’s latest ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) that includes: AEB (Advanced Emergency Braking); DWS (Distance Warning System); TMW (Traffic Movement Warning); ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and LDW (Lane Departure Warning). Note that ADAS is not fitted to Isuzu’s NPS 4×4 truck models.

These car-type electronic aids were in addition to already existing safety systems: ECE R29 safety cab structure; dual SRS airbags; seat-belt pre-tensioners; ABS brakes; ASR skid-reduction; ALS (automatic lights-on); hill-start assistance; cruise control with speed limiter and cornering lights.

The literal ‘eyes’ of the 2022 ADAS kit were a pair of stereoscopically-arranged, forward-facing cameras. The system is similar to that used in Isuzu D-MAX utes and MU-X wagons, and Subaru’s ‘Eyesight’.

Allan Whiting knew from experience with the similar ADAS used in the Isuzu Ute D-MAX that there are times when the system bails out.  For example, heavy rain can trigger a ‘camera halt’ condition, because the camera can’t see through a torrential downpour. 

If that happens the N Series ADAS flashes a ‘camera halt’ message in place of the DWS green icon and, at the same time, an orange DWS icon and an orange LDW icon appear on the instrument display, showing the driver that the ADAS has stopped working.

When driven through one of hundreds of torrential Autumn downpours in soggy Sydney, the amount of water trigged a ‘camera halt’ condition. Within a few minutes the rain dissipated and ADAS automatically reinstated itself, so the green display re-appeared.

 Lane-keeping and distance-setting electronic aids have been part of the car and SUV world for years and, for the most part, are criticised by drivers for their intrusive nature.  Many car and truck drivers get so fed up with bells, chimes and steering wheel ‘tugs’ that they turn everything off that they can. Thankfully, Isuzu’s ADAS kit is much more driver-friendly.

When fired up, the NNR the dashboard display showed a small green screen with the DWS distance measurement icon showing the level of distance selected. The driver is able to lengthen or shorten that selected distance, within its range limits.

In operation that screen remained in place, but, if the AEB camera software calculated that the truck was driving too close to the vehicle in front, it issued a medium-decibel chime and a small orange warning display suggested maintaining a safe distance.  It had no retarding effect on cruise control, nor did it apply any braking. The DWS function is designed to be purely advisory.

The same non-invasive behaviour applies to the LDW, lane departure warning function. A rocker switch provided two levels of sensitivity in this operation. With the display’s green ‘tram tracks’ set at their narrowest the LDW chime occurred when the bodywork or a tyre encountered a lane or fog-line marking. There was no correcting steering input, just a subtle chime to warn the driver that the truck was straying from its lane.

After few days’ experience with the LDW system this tighter-lane setting proved best for multi-lane roads, where lane indiscipline can cost a mirror breakage.

With the switch at its wider ‘tram track’ setting the LDW chime didn’t sound until the tyre or bodywork was actually over the lane marking and this setting suited narrow, secondary roads, where a little fog-line overrun or broken centre lane intrusion wasn’t risky.

However, for those who can’t abide any criticism of their driving style, there’s an ‘opt out’ button on the dashboard. It needs to be pressed after every engine start, or the ADAS defaults to operating condition. The reason for that is that Isuzu wants the driver to make the decision to make truck less safe, not the other way around.

When the ADAS-off button was pressed, orange DWS and LDW icons appeared on the instrument panel, clearly indicating that the system was disabled.

 

Conclusion

The Gotcha4Life Isuzu NNR Crew AMT would be an asset to any family or group that needs a base vehicle for sporting or recreational pursuits. Because it’s self-powered and has gas BBQs it doesn’t need to be plugged into mains power.

It’s as easy to drive as a ute or a people mover and needs no truck licence. It’s also legal with a four-tonne trailer or caravan bobbing along behind.

We’ve already bought our raffle ticket, but we’re still not sure about that pink bumper bar…

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