Style and substance

Power Torque | Friday, 25 February 2022 | Paul Matthei
Style and substance

Hino Australia recently introduced its new 700 Series heavy-duty models to the local market. After a comprehensive test drive of two different versions, Paul Matthei’s conclusion is that they both look the goods and deliver the goods – in more ways than one.


Hino has been steadily improving its 700 Series heavy-duty models for nearly two decades since the series was launched.

The latest iteration has received a massive technology injection that brings it in line with the smaller 500 and 300 Series models in Hino’s range. 

Over the years, the 700 Series has gained a loyal following in a variety of applications where the attributes of build integrity, dependability and longevity are paramount.

This strong following in specific segments of the market is set to increase thanks to several key ameliorations that Hino has wrought on its latest heavy hauler.

The vehicles are ideally suited to a wide range of short- and medium-haul applications where the aforementioned traits – along with exceptional manoeuvrability and visibility, outstanding auxiliary braking, good performance and fuel efficiency – are highly valued.

Hino’s marketing drive for the new 700 Series emphasises big strides forward in the three key areas of safety, emissions reduction and connectivity, and after driving examples of the SS 2848 prime mover and FY 3036 8x4 rigid, I can vouch that this is certainly the case.

However, I would add a further element to that trio because this is actually the first time in its 19-year history that the 700 Series has been offered with two distinct engine and transmission options. 

Having driven both in the course of this test, there’s no doubt in my mind that this will significantly broaden the 700’s appeal at the lighter end of the heavy-duty market which is dominated by 6x4 and 8x4 rigids in various guises.

It’s an opinion shared by Daniel Petrovski, Hino Australia’s Product Strategy Manager, who says the availability of the AO9C engine in the 700 Series will enhance the company’s ability to expand sales in the heavy rigid market.

“Traditionally, as you know, Hino has always been super strong in the medium-duty sector,” Daniel says, “but we have also been simmering along in the lighter end of the heavy-duty sector following the introduction of the 700 Series in 2003.

“Our light-duty Dutro was launched in 2000 and subsequently rebadged 300 Series which along with the medium-duty 500 Series has accounted for much of our volume to date.

“Now that the nine-litre AO9C engine has been added to the 700 Series we are really going to concentrate on specialising in heavy rigid trucks; making sure we have the best products in this segment so people will think of Hino when they need a rigid.”

Daniel adds that with the new 700 Series prime mover customers can own a highly versatile and capable single trailer truck which has the goods to stand in for larger horsepower prime movers when required.

“If their normal 550hp B-double prime mover is off the road for any reason, they can pop the 700 Series in there and do a trip because it has the capacity to do the job,” Daniel says.

“We also have a lot of customers who are farmers who are often operating in remote areas. They appreciate the high Gross Combination Mass (GCM) ratings of the 6x4 and 8x4 700 Series because it allows them to have a fully loaded cattle crate on the truck and the same load on a trailer to shift their livestock around the property.

“The 700 Series has a 7.5-tonne rated steer axle and a 21-tonne rated tandem drive so there is more than enough capacity for the really heavy loads.”     

SS Specifications

As the flagship of the Hino range, the SS 2848 rides on a 3.9m wheelbase and sports Hino’s venerable E13C-BK 13-litre engine that’s good for 480hp (353kW) and 1,591lb/ft (2,157Nm) of torque. It also features a Jacobs engine brake which combined with the standard hydraulic retarder (Intarder) endows the 700 Series with a formidable auxiliary braking package.

The grunt is fed into a ZF TraXon 16-speed overdrive automated manual transmission (AMT) with integrated Intarder and then into a Hino tandem drive assembly with a 3.9:1 final drive ratio supported by Hendrickson HAS Electronically Controlled Air Suspension (ECAS). Brakes are Taper Roller drums with EBS on all axles covered by Alcoa polished alloy 10-stud rims with a Pitch Circle Diameter (PCD) of 335mm.

The electrical system is 24v negative ground and fuel capacity is 700 litres – 450 in the left tank and 250 in the right.

Inside the cab, the driver’s chair is an ISRI 6860/870 NTS2 air suspended unit with integrated seatbelt while the passenger pew is a non-suspended high back bucket with reclining back.

The multimedia unit is a 6.5” LCD HD touch screen with digital DAB+, AM and FM radio, aux input, Bluetooth, Android 6.0 and Wi-Fi enabled.

Safety first

Increased safety for the driver and other road users including pedestrians and bicyclists should always be the number one priority when it comes to vehicle developments and clearly Hino has left no stone unturned in this regard.

Having previously introduced a comprehensive suite of safety equipment with its smaller 300 and 500 Series trucks, the company has plenty of prior experience up its sleeve which has now been put to good use in the 700 Series.  

As such, Hino justifiably claims that its SmartSafe package, which is now standard across most of the 700 Series range, is the most comprehensive it has ever developed. According to Hino, the two 8x4 FY variants currently without SmartSafe will be thus equipped when the Model Year 23 upgrade is rolled out later this year.

Unpacking the entire Hino SmartSafe active safety package takes some time, so please bear with me.

For a start, there’s a Driver Monitor (DM) that uses a camera discretely integrated into the right-hand A-pillar. As the name suggests, this continuously observes the driver’s attention towards the road in terms of driving posture, face orientation and eyelid status.

The Pre-Collision System incorporates Pedestrian Detection (PD), Safety Eye (SE) and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). It uses radar and image sensors to detect circumstances that could lead to a collision with a pedestrian or vehicle. It initially warns the driver visually and audibly and if the driver fails to respond, the brakes are automatically applied to mitigate the severity of impact, if not avoid it altogether.

The Electronic Braking System (EBS), which incorporates Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) Vehicle Stability Control, automatically regulates the braking force to the required wheels in all situations to ensure optimum stopping performance and vehicle stability at all times.    

Lane Departure Warning System alerts the driver both audibly and visually if the vehicle strays from its lane without the blinkers being activated.

Anti-Slip Regulator (ASR) helps maintain traction in slippery conditions while Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) ensures a safe gap is maintained between the Hino and the vehicle ahead.

Rounding out the list of active safety features are a reversing camera and buzzer and an audible warning if the driver’s door is opened without the parking brake applied and the gear selector in neutral.

Passive safety features include an ECE-R29 cab strength certification, a driver’s airbag and seatbelt pre-tensioner, collapsible steering column and Front Under-run Protection System (FUPS).

FY 3036 8x4 specs

Aimed squarely at typical 8x4 applications such as the hook-lift segment, the FY 3036 rides on a 5.9m wheelbase and has respective GVM and GCM ratings of 30 and 42.5 tonnes. It has a maximum nominal body length of 8.7m.

It’s powered by Hino’s A09C-VN nine-litre six-cylinder engine that produces 360hp (265kW) and 1,157lb/ft (1,569Nm) of torque, coupled with an Allison 4440 six-speed double overdrive automatic transmission.  

The big news with this FY is that it now has load sharing taper leaf front suspension which enables an extra tonne of payload compared with non-load sharing twin steer arrangements.

At the rear is Hino Six-Rod taper leaf suspension with a weight rating of 21,800kg.

Aside from the absence of the Hino SmartSafe package that will be included in FY models as standard later this year, most other specifications are similar to the aforementioned SS model.

Clean machine

Hino has effectively future-proofed the entire 700 Series range by enabling it to meet Euro 6 emissions regulations well in advance of the expected local mandate which is ostensibly still some years away.

It’s encouraging to see manufacturers like Hino going the extra mile in this regard. It’s this sort of initiative that will continue to keep the diesel engine at the forefront of technological advancement and as relevant as possible during the long transition period to fully electric power.

Another point worth noting that I’m certain isn’t lost on Hino is that some large companies are now stipulating compliance with Euro 6 emissions standards, along with comprehensive safety systems, on their new local and regional distribution trucks, including those bought and operated by subbies. With the heavy rigid and prime mover variants fitting this category like a glove, Hino would seem to be in the box seat to snap up a larger slice of sales in this lucrative space.

Connecting the dots

The third dimension in Hino’s three-pronged advancement drive is Hino-Connect. Now standard across the 500 and 700 Series ranges, it’s an integrated telematics system that combines key performance data tracking in real time, remote diagnosis of vehicle faults and 24/7 alerts delivered to the truck’s owner and their Hino-Connect specialist for priority repairs and service support.

According to Hino, this is a complete business intelligence solution designed to reduce costs, optimise driver and vehicle performance, improve safety and enable the operator to make informed decisions.  

In effect, the system acts like an invisible umbilical cord between the truck, its owner and Hino-Connect, with real-time data accessible at all times. This business intelligence enables the asset manager to monitor key aspects such as driver behaviour, safety and vehicle utilisation either via the Hino-Connect portal or an app on a smart device.  

The Hino-Connect package includes a complimentary 12-month subscription for Business Intelligence Access which entails vehicle utilisation, maintenance support and Application Programming Interface (API) data integration for full fleet visibility.

In addition, there is a complimentary five-year subscription to Remote Diagnostics + Hino-Connect Specialist Support which includes vehicle engine control monitoring, severe fault alerts and case management support.  

Hino-Connect is an important element of the all-new 700 Series that the company believes will help it snare a larger share of the heavy-duty market.

Driving impressions

Climbing aboard the SS 2848 is an easy process thanks to the wide non-slip staircase and well-placed grab handles. Once seated, the very car-like appearance of the dash and steering wheel with its multi-function controls and the earthy tri-tone colour scheme make for a warm and inviting cab interior – particularly in the SS with its high roof which adds considerably to the feeling of spaciousness.

Upon firing up the engine I am struck by the low noise level and general refinement of the 13-litre powerplant. The SS is pulling a loaded tri-axle fridge van with the combination grossing just over 40 tonnes and heading out of the Sci-Fleet Hino dealership at Eagle Farm and up the steep grade of the Gateway Bridge heading south the engine and transmission show impeccable compatibility as the power delivery and shifts are seamlessly made.

I head west on the Logan Motorway with the goal of testing it out on the hard pull up to Cunningham’s Gap before doubling back and evaluating the retardation of the Intarder on the way down.

The scenic trip along the not-so-smooth Cunningham Highway is pleasant – with the four-point air suspension of the cab soaking up the surface irregularities with an aplomb normally associated with European prime movers. One comfort feature is missing though – there are no fold-down armrests on the driver’s chair which come in handy on longer journeys.

At the base of the climb up to Cunningham’s Gap the engine hooks in and the TraXon transmission progressively shifts down before settling on 11th gear for the run to the top. I select manual mode to ensure the gear is held and speed varies between 40 and 50km/h while RPM fluctuates between 1,500 and 1,700, dropping to 1,300 and 30km/h on the steep pinch close to the summit. At all times the torque delivery is smooth and consistent thanks to the fact that this engine delivers peak torque from 1,000RPM all the way through to 1,550RPM.

On the way back down, I manually select 11th gear and engage the Intarder which works in harmony with the Jake brake to keep speed to 40km/h without any foot brake intervention. I actually don’t use the fifth stage on the Intarder wand because it would slow me down too much. This bodes well for the effectiveness of this auxiliary braking package with a higher GCM combination in tow.

The next day I test out the FY 3036 on a suburban route from Brisbane to the Gold Coast and it performs equally well with the willing A09C engine and Allison 4000 Series six-speed auto proving a winning combination.

This truck really looks sharp too, with its bold chrome grille and robust yet stylish polished aluminium bullbar.

Driver comfort is exceptional, with plenty of left foot room, as is visibility through the large windscreen and peripherally where there is a substantial 7.0-inch (178mm) car-spotting gap between the mirror head and A-pillar. This is especially important for this type of truck that generally operates around suburban work sites and the like.

A very handy feature is the hill-hold which stays activated until the driver touches the accelerator to go, rather than automatically releasing after a certain number of seconds as other systems do.

An hour meter is standard and idle time is logged automatically – important information for this type of vehicle that can be stationary and running a power take-off driving a hydraulic pump for extended periods.

After thoroughly testing both vehicles there is no doubt in my mind that Hino is backing a winner with its new 700 Series. In addition to the SS prime mover and the FY eight-wheel rigid featuring load sharing front suspension, there is a raft of variants ideally suited to a wide range of applications in the heavy-duty truck market. 

Reviewed by Paul Matthei from Power Torque Magazine.

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