Prime Mover Magazine

To the nth degree

To the nth degree

The N Series is the bedrock of the overall Isuzu range and delivers the major share of Isuzu’s sales that has kept the brand at number one. The constantly evolving N Series has recently had a number of features added including some 4x4 models with two pedal AMT transmissions.

The updated 2018 N Series adds even more models to the already expansive range including more variants equipped with independent front suspension and a widened availability of two pedal automated manual transmissions (AMT).

The NPS 4x4 models are the first 4x4 trucks in the light duty category to be made available with an AMT that has been re-calibrated from the on-road version following three years of prototype evaluation in Australia.

An obvious advantage of putting an AMT into an off-road application such as fire services is that volunteer and inexperienced drivers do not need to concern themselves with operating a clutch in what can often be difficult conditions.

With low range and 4x4 selected the AMT operates as a clutch-less manual and will keep engaged whichever of the gears the driver has selected.

Gear changes are accomplished easily by pushing forward or backwards on the selector lever.

In high range the transmission operates as a conventional AMT requiring minimal input from the driver.

The addition of a kick down switch linked to the accelerator pedal adds to the car-like driving experience.

Power for the N Series comes from either of two four-cylinder engines. The 3.0 litre 4JJ1 develops 110kW and 375Nm and kicks off the range in the 4.5 tonnes GVM NLR 45-150 model and runs through to the 6.5 tonnes GVM NNR 65-150.

The 5.2 litre 4HK1 engine has a higher torque capability at 419Nm with a marginally higher 114kW of power in the 4.5 and 5.5 tonnes GVM NPR models and is also available with a 140kW rating with 513Nm in the 7.5 and 8.7 tonnes NPR 190 models.

The engines are now equipped with a diesel oxidation catalyst exhaust emission system which is maintenance free for the life of the vehicle with no filters to change and no AdBlue required.

A change in the design of the exhaust brake has added to its effectiveness.

The wide cab NNR models are very popular in urban distribution applications and most in the range now have rack and pinion steering and independent front suspensions (IFS) available.

In addition to cab chassis these models will be available from dealers with ready to work van bodies.

The difference in ride between the IFS and beam axle/leaf spring models is quite evident when driving one version immediately after the other and there is negligible difference in payload as the entire package only weighs an extra 25kgs.

For rental truck applications the NNR will continue to be had with the conventional and less costly leaf spring set up.

Cruise control is now standard in all N Series models as is an in-dash multifunction display to keep the driver appraised of the statistics such as instant and average fuel consumption, service reminders and an hour meter.

Buyers will be delighted to learn that at last an alternative audio-visual system is available for 24 volt trucks delivered in Australia.

The all new system features a brighter and sharper 6.2 inch touch screen and runs on the Android Automotive operating platform and includes USB and Bluetooth connectivity and AM/FM and digital radio.

In a sign of the times there is no provision for playing CDs but internet radio can be accessed via a tethered smartphone. The unit has the ability to synchronise up to 5,000 contacts, which will be appreciated by drivers who want to maintain connections while driving and still remain legal and safe.

The optional satellite navigation module is now located behind the dash in a move in response to rental operators tired of having to replace the SD cards purloined by some of their customers.

The satellite navigation option is now at a much lower price than previous and includes truck routing over two million kilometres of mapped roads using HEMA maps as the base.

Speech to text instructions and split screen ability provide seamless and accurate navigation. Another new option is a digital reversing camera that uses infa-red and audio to warn the driver of people or animals that may be unseen at the rear.

In a move to improve the cost efficiency, service intervals have been extended to 12 months/15,000 kilometres for the 3.0 litre engines and 12 months/20,000 kilometres  for the 5.2 litre.

The new model line-up includes a 3,815mm wheelbase, which accommodates the use of an eight pallet body as either an open tray or curtainsider. Towing capacity is now 3,500kgs across the range.

The ready to work sector of the N Series includes the popular Tradepack and is now available in black or blue cab paint as well as the popular silver and the ubiquitous white.

As Isuzu heads towards its 30th year as number one in the Australian truck market this latest line up of the N Series is evidence of how the company has achieved this level of domination.

The consistent policy of innovation and improvement across a broad range of factors results in customers being offered significantly more than they possibly even thought they wanted themselves.

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