Friday, October 01, 2010
Mitsubishi Fuso has expanded the 3.5-to-7.5-tonne Canter chassis and chassis double cab line-up launched last year with the addition of a 175hp 7C18 7.5-tonner now on sale in the UK.
Top power kicks in at 3,500rpm, top torque of 430Nm spans a 1,600rpm-to-2,800rpm plateau and it employs the same Fiat Powertrain-sourced 3.0-litre four-cylinder diesel as the rest of the Euro-5/EEV (Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle) compliant Canter range. Unlike its
stablemates, however, it uses exhaust gas recirculation (egr) plus selective catalytic reduction technology under the BlueTec banner to keep its exhaust emissions sufficiently clean.
That means that it has to be topped up with a mixture of urea and water — commonly known as AdBlue — every so often. Other Canters rely solely on egr, with no AdBlue required, and all Canters are equipped with a particulate filter.
Eighty-five per cent owned by Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, Mitsubishi Fuso sells Canters through Mercedes van and truck dealerships. BlueTec is a Daimler development.
Vehicles like Canter have resulted in the creation of a whole new class of what Mitsubishi Fuso refers to as light-duty 7.5-tonners. Boasting high payload capacities, so far as many businesses are concerned they represent a viable alternative to the more traditionally-engineered 7.5-
tonners such as Iveco’s Eurocargo and Mercedes-Benz’s own Atego.
Opt for a 7C18 with a 3,350mm wheelbase and you’ll find it tips the scales at an anorexic 2,560kg. That leaves a generous 4,940kg body and payload allowance.
Light-duty 7.5-tonners operate successfully in a number of marketplace niches. They appeal to local builders, landscape gardeners and councils; customers whose vehicles usually go back to their home depot every night, and for whom the relatively-compact cab that tends to be fitted isn’t a drawback.
Like all Canters, the 175hp newcomer features a mechanical rear diff lock and an engine brake.
On the Road
Our demonstrator sported a temperature-controlled body built by Kiesling with a Thermo King MD-200 fridge unit and a Ratcliff Palfinger tail-lift. It was fully-laden, but you wouldn’t have known it from the performance that was on tap.
Behaving as though it was empty, it pulled strongly away from rest and was soon loping along at the 50mph motorway limit in force in Germany for trucks of this size without drawing breath. At that speed the engine was turning over at a relaxed 2,500rpm.
It was remarkably quiet too and the ride was smooth, aided from the driver’s viewpoint by a comfortable, mechanically-suspended, seat.
The standard six-speed ’box felt stiff and notchy, probably because of the low mileage our Canter had recorded. Rather less excusable was the at-times-vague steering. At motorway speeds we found we were getting little if any feedback through the wheel.
The steering does come into its own at low speeds, however. Canter is remarkably manoeuvrable, with a tight turning circle.
For your money you get a three-man cab with plenty of head and shoulder room and acceptable legroom. The dashboard is woefully outdated, however — the radio looks as though it has been stuck on as an afterthought — and desperately needs a redesign. We were driving a Canter with the wider C-Series cab. The narrower S-Series is not offered in the UK.
At 7.5 tonnes Canter is also up for grabs with a 145hp 3.0-litre. When we drove it last year we found it struggled on hills and felt it would only be really happy on flattish terrain. Having driven its more powerful stablemate, we see no reason to change our view. The beefier version is the better bet if you regularly tackle inclines fully-laden.Verdict
If you’re stepping up from a 3.5-tonner to a 7.5-tonner, then the easy-to-drive Canter is in many respects an ideal solution. That’s because, unlike some of its rivals, it doesn’t feel like a truck and as a consequence won’t intimidate a van jockey. Although its 3.0-litre engine is small on paper — no other 7.5-tonner has an engine of such modest capacity — at 175hp in particular it’s big on performance and well on top of the job. It’s a pity though that, unlike Isuzu’s Forward 7.5-tonner, it isn’t yet available with a semi-automatic ’box. Add that to the mix, Fuso, sort out the steering and redesign the dashboard, and you’ll be looking at a gilt-edged winner. ?