BUYERS GUIDE - HEAVY DUTY
The Hino GT is unashamedly targeting rural fire fighting fleets, but this versatile truck could have other applications. The 2020 Hino GT 4×4 Auto model combines an Allison self-shifter with upgraded mechanicals.
Hino chose the annual Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) exhibition in late August 2019 to announce changes to its 500 Series GT 4×4, which will be in Hino Australia dealerships from the first quarter of 2020.
The upgraded 500 Series GT 1528 4×4 has more power and torque, and an increased payload. Apparently, it won’t look any different – other than for the cab door badge – than the 1322 model pictured above.
“The current 500 Series GT 1322 has been a popular choice for off-road work among various Australian emergency services, the mining industry, and infrastructure support applications, and we are confident these changes will further increase its appeal,” said Daniel Petrovski, Manager of Product Strategy for Hino Motor Sales Australia.
Available in single or crew cab configurations, the 500 Series GT 1528 features an upgraded 5.5-tonnes capacity front axle and a 10-tonnes capacity rear axle, increasing its Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) to 14.5 tonnes.
“When this GVM is combined with the relatively low tare weight of the GT 1528, it results in a nominal payload of approximately nine tonnes,” said Mr Petrovski.
“The Hino J08 six-cylinder engine increases power from 158kW (215hp) to 209kW (280hp) and torque improves dramatically from the current 637Nm up to 824Nm.”
The engine complies with ADR80/03, Euro 5 emission standards, using a DPF.
“An Allison 2500 Series automatic transmission makes the role of the emergency service driver easier by eliminating the need to shift gears,” said Mr Petrovski.
Other refinements to the GT 1528 include a larger capacity, dual-range transfer case and a reversing camera, displaying on a new multimedia system.
The new Hino multimedia system, with an Android-based, 165mm, capacitive multi-touch digital screen, features AM/FM/DAB+ digital radio, Wi-Fi connectivity and the latest version of Bluetooth tethering, enabling enhanced call handling and improved speech to text functionality.
Safety and comfort features included as standard on the new 500 Series GT 1528 are ABS), cruise control on single cabs, driver’s SRS airbag, heated and electrically operated external mirrors and an ISRI 6860/870 driver’s seat with integrated safety belt.
Full specifications and pricing will be released in the first quarter of 2020.
The latest version of the larger engine develops 470kW and 2255Nm of torque.
Single tyres – but not for Australia
Hino South Africa now offers its customers the choice of single or double rear wheels on its GT four-wheel drive models. The single wheel rear axle improves off-road handling capabilities and makes for more efficient operation in sandy conditions. The single wheel fitment also can improve fuel consumption.
Getting rocks stuck in dual tyres is a problem in Australia and while European truck makers all offer single tyre options, Hino and the other Japanese makers have consistently refused to do so.
Hino skites about its Dakar Rally successes very year and the race trucks have proved the value and reliability of wide-single tyres, but the company stubbornly
resists making them an option. Many buyers are forced to use after-market wheels and void driveline warranty in the process.
At OTA we think it’s about time that Japanese makers gave the Australian market the option that it wants.
The pre-2019 Hino GT 1322 4×4 Crew Auto model combined a seven-seat cabin with an Allison five-speed, self-shifter, on top of familiar mechanicals.
Inevitably, this truck competed with Isuzu’s FTS 800 4×4 Crew Auto and the comparison with the market leader wasn’t favourable. Both brands had closely-matched specifications, but detailed examination revealed that Isuzu had the on-paper performance edge.
Engines were common-rail, turbo-intercooled, with exhaust gas recirculation and particulate filters to comply with ADR80/03 emission regulations. However, the Isuzu engine had marginally more displacement – 7.8 litres vs 7.7 litres – and more power and torque: 176kW/706Nm vs 158kW/637Nm for the Hino engine.
Both trucks had the Allison 2500 Series, torque-converter automatic transmission, but Isuzu used the double-overdrive six-speed version and Hino had the single-overdrive five-speed. The Isuzu used higher-ratio, lower-speed final drives (6.5:1) compared with the Hino’s 5.4:1 gear-sets and so had more gradeability in low-low.
The Isuzu had full-time 4×4 operation, on and off road, with a manual lock for the centre differential. The Hino had no centre diff and part-time 4×4, making it operate in two-wheel drive on high-friction surfaces. Both vehicles had two-speed transfer cases.
The GVM honours went Isuzu’s way, with a rating of 13.9 tonnes, compared with the Hino’s 13 tonnes, but both trucks had identical front and rear axle capacity ratings – 4.7 tonnes and 9.2 tonnes – so the GVM rating was largely semantic. Another strength factor is chassis size and the Hino frame section was higher, wider and thicker than the Isuzu’s.
On and off road
The boys at Hino put four tonnes of plunder on the back of the GT 1322 tray and we tooled around town for a day, checking it out in stop-start conditions and followed that up with a highway trip next day, culminating in a run around our gravel-road and off-road test course.
The first trick was actually getting into the GT, sitting on its standard 11R22.5 Bridgestones. Fortunately, there are well-placed grab handles and a double access step, but some buyers might want an additional, flexible ‘swinging’ step below the standard ladder. Ditto with getting into the crew seats, via the rear doors.
Although it’s a tall beast, at 2975mm to the rooftop, the Hino is actually 70mm lower than its Isuzu competitor.
Ergonomics were very good, with major controls positioned in easy reach of the driver. The driver scored a standard ISRI 6800 seat that adjusted every conceivable way. The six passengers didn’t fare so well, with fixed seats and the two inboard rear positions came with lap-only seatbelts.
Hino adopted a T-bar transmission selector, which worked logically except for the position of reverse, in the slot where car drivers would expect to find ‘park’.
Hino’s multi-media system was a double-DIN touch screen, with fat buttons for menu changes and knobs you can actually turn. We had no issues with operating it and found the touch screen easy to use, even with the staccato effect on finger accuracy imparted by the rather ‘abrupt’ ride of the GT.
A part-load in the tray civilised the ride somewhat, but the Hino GT is a typical Japanese traction truck: firm for the initiated, who know what to expect and bloody rough for novices.
‘GT’ stands for ‘Get There’; not ‘Grand Touring’.
The springs were shortish, conventional leaf-spring packs, with helpers at the rear. Their primary function seemed to be ensuring that the massive axles rarely hit the bump stops. The telescopic dampers weren’t Dakar spec’, so their efforts to control spring action were limited.
Like its Isuzu equivalent the Hino is built to get there and back, not necessarily in the greatest comfort. We’ve driven some European off-road trucks, fitted with long, taper-leaf springs that gave a more comfortable ride, but these vehicles were also a lot more expensive than the Japanese models.
The Hino GT’s firm ride translated into flat handling on smooth surfaces and steering action was precise and well-assisted. Braking was powerful, without any grabbing or nose-diving.
The engine-transmission match was very good, but even a slick-shifting Allison couldn’t mask the fact that the GT could do with a tad more torque – about 100Nm more would be nice. Typically, the truck would hang onto fifth slot on long grades and then skip-shift back to third for some more pulling power.
It could only match loaded 500hp B-Double performance on hills, where a bit more torque would have seen it well ahead of the 65 tonners.
We played around with the transmission overdrive button, making early downshifts to fourth on some grades and that helped maintain road speed.
Automatic-transmission trucks normally have poor engine retardation, but the GT’s engine-transmission programming is well done: dial in the exhaust brake on a downgrade and the transmission goes for successive downshifts, maximising engine braking power. It was almost too much in some highway situations, requiring a move of the exhaust brake lever to limit retardation.
Noise levels were generally low, except when the engine needed to work hard on steep highway grades.
The headlights were very, very ordinary, so driving lights would be necessary for those venturing on bush roads after dark.
On gravel roads the GT1322 handled well and when the going got slippery we stopped the truck to engage 4WD – a simple matter of selecting neutral and then pressing a dashboard button. In high-range 4×4 mode the truck was directionally more stable on sandy and muddy surfaces.
For serious off-road work the next stage was to engage low-range, by stopping the vehicle and selecting the ‘tortoise’ button on the dashboard. Low-range engagement was confirmed by the tortoise icon replacing the hare icon on the instrument panel.
The GT1322 climbed very easily in this mode, but hill descent was trickier, because even in low range the overall gearing wasn’t sufficient to hold the truck to walking speed on very steep descents. ‘Cadence’ braking to control downhill speed soon used the air supply and the low-air warning light and buzzer came on. For this type of terrain the manual box would be a much better choice.
Overall economy on this on-off-road test worked out at 4.6km/L or 21.7L/100km, which isn’t bad for a big, heavy brick on wheels.