Japanese brand Fuso has a long history in the development of four-wheel drive commercial vehicles. It started selling the Canter FG single cab in a 4×4 version in 1989, followed by the first crew cab variant in 1992, so there is some serious real life experience behind it. Several years ago, however, Fuso in Japan waived the dual range transmission that had been available on the Canter 4×4, and only after much lobbying by the Australian division it is now available again. Prime Mover had a look whether the reincarnation of the system can still make a notable impact.
What’s important to note when talking about the new 4×4 is that the doubling of available gear ratios isn’t the only aspect of the Canter to have had an engineering makeover. The chassis rails are now high at the front and drop down at the rear, which is a design specifically adopted for Australia. This permits a significant increase in ground clearance while retaining the standard engine position without having extended spring brackets at the rear – a chassis design so successful that has now become available in other markets as well.
The added height means that solid add-on steps are required to climb into the cab, but the higher centre of gravity doesn’t seem to present any stability problems. Access to the cab, however, could be improved with an extra grab handle.
The cross member brackets have been beefed up to allow more chassis twist and the rear suspension has a main spring pack plus helper springs to compromise on ride without sacrificing load carrying ability.
The latest Canter 4×4 was developed with fire fighting vehicles in mind, and our test vehicle is Fuso’s R84 option, which involves deleting the power windows, air bags and central locking for bush fire vehicles. There are very good reasons for this as wind up windows will survive a fire or a flat battery and airbags may be activated by a fire – and this wouldn’t be much fun in an already hot cab.
Subscribe to Prime Mover to read the full story.