The Hino 700 Series are trucks that, at the lighter end of the heavy-duty sector, provide an effective combination of power, reliability, comfort and whole-of-life affordability.
The SH 2045 4×2 test model is connected to the Hino Sports Deck trailer, which converts into a well-equipped hospitality suite at events such as the Supercars series. At a gross mass of 25 tonnes, the weight of the trailer doesn’t challenge the performance of the Hino when keeping up with city traffic or on the open highway.
Available in 440, 450 and 480 horsepower ratings, the test truck is fitted with Hino’s 12.9-litre E13C VF engine, which provides 450hp at 1,800rpm and torque of 2157Nm from as low as 1,100rpm. The engine uses exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) as well as AdBlue after-treatment (SCR) to meet Euro 5 emission requirements. The AdBlue is held in two plastic tanks with a total capacity of 56 litres that are located on the driver’s side of the chassis, with the standard 450-litre alloy diesel tank on the kerb side of the truck.
The engine is mated to Hino’s version of the ZF 16-speed AS-Tronic automated manual transmission (AMT) referred to as the ‘ProShift’. With plenty of ratios available, the engine maintains its sweet spot of maximum efficiency with no fuss. Holding 100km/h in top gear sees the engine powering along at just over 1,500rpm, and torque only drops off noticeably above 1,600rpm.
The ZF hardware is exceptionally well proven around the world and in the Hino installation, the software that handles the interaction between the engine and transmission has been developed to the point that gear selection and changes are as appropriate and seamless as any other truck equipped with the ZF AMT.
A standout feature on this model is the combination of the engine brake with the ZF Intarder fitted to the transmission. These auxiliary brakes are controlled by a stalk on the steering column, with the first position engaging the engine compression brake and the next three positions introducing increasing levels of driveline retardation provided by the hydraulic Intarder.
The combined effectiveness is remarkable and the service brakes are essentially only used in the final metres to bring the truck to a complete standstill. Though the gross weight of the test rig is under 25 tonnes, even on a very steep decline the third stage of the Intarder doesn’t just hold a speed, but it actually reduces the speed so much it seems as if the trailer brakes activated.
The manual control lever for the trailer brakes is quite long compared to other makes and provides precision control. The service brakes are discs on all four wheels and operate smoothly via the foot valve.
The suspension on this 4×2 version is taper leaf springs at the front, and four airbags at the rear. Large stabiliser bars attached to both axles reduce any sensation of cab roll, without making the ride too harsh. The braking system incorporates anti-lock braking and vehicle stability control. Hopefully neither system will ever need to activate but it’s reassuring to know that these safety related features are there to be automatically brought into play should the circumstances require them.
The single differential has a locking function operated by a dash switch, which will be handy on some of the soft surfaces encountered when positioning the Sports Deck trailer at open-air events.
Combined, these factors contribute significantly to the Hino 700’s reputation for frugal fuel consumption and reduced driver fatigue.
The transmission selector is solidly mounted to the centre console of the cab and features a brushed metal insert engraved with the symbols that indicate the shifting function. Pulling the lever back to change down or pushing forward to change up accesses manual override. There are two stages of spring-loaded detent that help the driver if they decide to shift a full gear or split with a half gear.
In normal circumstances, it should be expected that the shifter will be left in drive and let the electronics maximise the performance and minimise the fuel burn, but if the need arises to assume full control, the shifter’s functions become intuitive very quickly.
After an initial ‘play around’ with manual shifting early in the trip, the only time we seek to override the automated function is approaching the brow of a few of the larger hills by selecting to hold a gear to avoid what could be an unnecessary down shift. There are two reverse ratios and a ‘slow’ switch, which enables the Hino to operate at crawl speed when connecting trailers. In full auto mode the transmission will skip shift whenever it is able and the manual mode provides sequential shifting.
The steering feel is quite light without making the driver feel isolated from the road. The steering wheel itself may be considered a bit ‘old school’ because it isn’t festooned with control buttons, and the cruise control and auxiliary braking are activated by steering column stalks along with levers for the standardised lights and wiper functions.
The steering wheel has quite a range of reach and rake adjustments which, in conjunction with the Isri air-suspended seat, can be trimmed to suit any driver.
The ergonomics from the driver’s perspective are very good, with all controls being in easy reach. The cab’s interior is best described as functional, and that’s not intended as a criticism for the types of applications suited to the Hino 700.
There is plenty of legroom for the driver and the dash has a semi wrap around design with large diameter tacho and speedo instruments that can be read easily and quickly in all lighting conditions. Dark grey plastic is the basis of most interior surfaces and should provide a durable, long service life.
The driver’s seatbelt is integrated into the seat, which makes traversing the rougher patches on the New England Highway during our drive pain-free, as far as the driver’s right shoulder is concerned.
Cab access is via three deep non-slip steps, and three points of contact safety are provided by a very solid handle attached to the A pillar.
The driver sits high in the cab and is afforded excellent vision through the screen and door windows. There is also a good view of what is happening behind and at the sides with an array of well-placed and high mounted mirrors. Windows are electric, with the driver’s side having one-touch operation in both directions, which is convenient for a truck. Three large wiper blades with integrated washer jets do a good job of clearing road grime or rain from the windscreen.
The double DIN audio and satellite navigation system is essentially the same as those fitted to other brands in the Australian market so operation is familiar. Up to three camera inputs are available, and in this case a single camera positioned at the rear of the Sports Deck trailer provides clear vision directly behind the trailer when reversing.
The sleeper section isn’t large but it meets the Australian Design Rule (ADR) width requirements and the standard mattress is probably too firm for a full night’s sleep but will be fine for a power nap. This is not much of an issue as most applications we have seen for the Hino 700 essentially only require a day cab.
The cab is mounted on its own air suspension and is easily tilted using the electro-hydraulic pump.
The Hino 700 Series are no-nonsense trucks that get the job done with a good balance of power and comfort.
Add to the mix the ProShift AMT with its the braking Intarder and the available range of wheelbase and axle combinations of 4×2, 6×4 and 8×4, Hino provides a truck that will be suited to a broad range of rigid and prime mover applications, including waste, port logistics and car carrying.
A significantly updated Hino 700 is expected to be shown to the Australian market towards the end of this year.
For a Japanese truck, the Hino 700 has a rather tough looking exterior with a bold grille incorporating large air inlets to provide airflow for the cooling system.
The Hino 700 comes with a ZF 16-speed AS-Tronic automated manual (AMT) ‘ProShift’ however an Eaton 18-speed manual is also available for those who prefer a three pedal operation.