Test Drive: Fuso Super Great
The Fuso Super Great was released in Japan in 2017 and is currently undergoing local trials prior to production models becoming available here later this year. ‘Project Black Panther’ is already going a long way to making sure the replacement for the current generation Fuso Heavy will be fit for local purposes.
The harlequin vinyl wrap on this Fuso Super Great assessment vehicle is hardly necessary as the cab’s basic sheet metal remains unchanged from the current Heavy, other than the front panel, bumper and grille. The shape-changing illusion it provides parallels the winter soldier camouflage being used to partially disguise the Freightliner Cascadias currently doing extensive trials in Australia.
Daimler Trucks continue to demonstrate their commitment to put trucks destined for the Australian market through rigorous local testing well prior to offering them through their dealerships. Across all of its brands Daimler Trucks have not been averse to implementing some improvements as the testing progresses to better suit conditions here. The current Mercedes-Benz Actros went through a number of versions prior to its commercial release which have resulted in strong sales because the truck was made to be more suitable to Australian operators’ requirements. Daimler’s Freightliner Cascadia is also undergoing rigorous trials both here and in the USA and when the Australian versions of the Cascadia ultimately become available here some time in 2020 we can be assured that they will be manifestly suitable for the local market.
Although most of the exterior of the Fuso may be the same under the vinyl skin the driveline and the interior have been subjected to a great deal of attention. The influence of the Mercedes-Benz Daimler heritage is evident in many areas and can be as subtle as the Actros-style steering wheel and the rebadging of some components. This assessment truck has Japanese style mirrors fitted to the ‘A’ pillars with mirror heads the same as found on the local Actros trucks in deference to local Australian Design Rules which prohibit wider angle convex glass for the main mirrors. The kerb side mirror is extended forward similar to bus mirrors and its mounting arm is electrically articulated to fold it forward closer to the windscreen when negotiating tight confines. The extreme forward mounting of the spotter mirror provides excellent vision of the space immediately in front of the truck as well as a good view of the kerbside steer wheel and complements Fuso’s transom window in the passenger door in reducing blind spot areas. The effective combination suggests it may be time for Australian trucks to break away from decades of door mounted west coast mirrors.
The driver’s suspended seat is comfortable and easy to adjust with a cam style lever for the dump valve which drops the seat to enhance entry and exit. The interior is new, logically arranged and comfortable. The squab of the unsuspended passenger seat folds up to improve access to the bunk space and a higher roof version of this cab will also be available. The quality of the panel fit and ingress protection provided by the door and window seals is evidenced by the red dust residue that remains on unsealed surfaces from the Fuso’s exposure to a dust storm in western New South Wales a couple of weeks prior to our own drive – with no evidence of any of it getting past the seals.
The control for the transmission is now integrated with the engine brake controls using a stalk mounted on the left side of the multi-way adjustable steering column. Lights and wipers are operated by a similar stalk on the right hand side. The headlights are super bright with long lasting LEDs for low beam and halogen beams for high beam.
The camera that is the eyes of the lane departure system is mounted in the centre of the windscreen alongside the rain sensor for the automatic operation of the wipers while the radar unit for the proximity control system is located low in the centre of the grille. The integrated adaptive cruise function has easy adjustments for the gap between the Fuso and any vehicle in front. Due to the light traffic on this section of the Hume we finally settle to cruise speed at 99km/h with a 3 km/h buffer. The Fuso’s acceleration and engine braking work well together to maintain speed without much input from the driver or risk of exceeding the limit.
The eco rolling function which neutralises the transmission and allows the vehicle to coast down gentle slopes will be a significant contributor to fuel savings for applications that involve a lot of highway driving.
Powered by an OM470 from the Daimler family, the engine in this Fuso application has been labelled as the 6R20T4. It displaces 10.7 litres which is smaller than the 12-litre used in the current Fuso Heavy yet still develops the same 460PS (455hp) and 2,200Nm of torque. The smaller and lighter engine should be a significant contributor to fuel economy. Maximum power is at 1,600 rpm and the maximum torque output is available from 1,100 rpm. The 12-speed automated transmission is known as the ShiftPilot in Japan and shares much of its hardware with the current INOMAT II used in the Fuso Heavy. However, the calibration and control systems have undergone significant improvements including the fitment of the eco roll system. We’re loaded to a gross of 38 tonnes and the final drive ratio of 4.625:1 helps the Fuso move quickly off the mark and pull well in situations such as coming out of roundabouts.
Production models for the Australian market will get alloy fuel tanks. Consideration is being given to relocation of the battery box to enable to fitment of an additional fuel tank on the driver’s side.
This test truck has Fuso’s mechanical suspension which uses leaf springs with a six-rod set up and the truck exhibits good stability with no bucking when negotiating bridge humps at cruising speed. A four bag air suspension similar to the current model will also be offered. At highway speed, the quietness of driveline is remarkable. Roll down the one touch driver’s electric window and the noises from the driveline and exhaust are almost impossible to discern leaving only some mild wind noise and a muted rumble from the quite chunky Bridgestone drive tyres on the pavement.
Daimler Trucks tell us the Super Great (or whatever it will be called here) will be available in 6x4 and 8x4 configurations, with the 8x4 featuring Fuso’s effective load sharing suspension which is important for sectors such as the waste industry.
Fuso are keeping tight lipped about the nomenclature and it is likely when it makes its official public debut at the Brisbane Truck Show in May that it won’t have ‘Super Great’ badging.
Daimler Trucks show good intent in ensuring the ‘Australianisation’ of the Fuso products and in its final forms the Super Great should be lighter even than the inappropriately named ‘Heavy’. This new model is an excellent example of Daimler Trucks’ global modular strategy where common components are shared with brand-based and localised tweaks.