First Drive: Fuso Canter 4x4

Date: Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Having dropped the Mitsubishi name, but not the distinctive logo that goes with it, Fuso has launched a high ground-clearance four-wheel drive 6.5-tonner. It is the latest addition to the 3.5- to 7.5-tonne Portuguese-built Canter light truck line-up, which was extensively revised late last year.

Like Mercedes-Benz, Fuso forms part of the Daimler group and its products are sold through Mercedes van and truck outlets in Britain.
 The off-roading newcomer is produced as a single-cab two-door three-seater and as a double-cab four-door seven-seater. Aimed at customers such as construction companies and local authorities, both variants are built on chassis with either a 3415mm or a 3865mm wheelbase. However, the double-cab is not available in right-hand-drive on the longer wheelbase.
Only one engine is offered: a 3.0-litre turbocharged and intercooled common-rail four-cylinder diesel. Married to a five-speed manual gearbox, it generates 175hp at 3500rpm while maximum torque is 430Nm across a 1600rpm to 2900rpm plateau.
Selective Catalytic Reduction, Exhaust Gas Recirculation and a particulate filter combine to ensure the 3.0-litre complies with the Euro5 exhaust emission regulations. The all-wheel drive Canter matches Enhanced Environmentally friendly Vehicle requirements too.
SCR means the Canter is
fitted with a 12-litre tank that contains AdBlue. A water-based additive with a 32.5% urea content, it is sprayed into the exhaust gases to help cut the output of pollutants, with NOx – oxides of nitrogen – its key target. The tank usually requires refilling once every 5000 miles.
Four-wheel drive is selectable while on the move by using a switch in the cab, although the freewheeling front hubs have to be locked manually prior to departure, a somewhat old-fashioned arrangement these days. It is possible to run in 4x2 mode while leaving them locked, but doing so will increase fuel consumption by 5% says Fuso, compared with the return you will enjoy if you opt for 4x2 (but unlock them first). A rear differential lock is fitted as standard.
The approach and departure angles are 35° and 25° respectively, while under-axle ground clearance is 210mm at the front and 185mm at the back, with a between-axles clearance of 320mm.
Payload capacity extends from 3500kg to 3735kg and the Canter can tow a braked trailer grossing at 3.5 tonnes.
ABS is a standard feature, although ESP isn’t, and drum brakes are fitted all round – a prudent arrangement given that they are less prone to becoming clogged by dirt than discs.
Stop/start can be optioned
while other extra-cost items include a mechanically sprung driver’s seat and two different factory-fitted 31kW power take-offs. The Canter 4x4 can also be ordered with a voltage converter that allows its 12V electrical system to be connected to a 24V interface.
What Van? sampled Fuso’s latest offering at Daimler’s off-road proving ground at Otigheim, just over an hour’s drive from Frankfurt in Germany. While the almost bone-dry course was only moderately demanding, it nonetheless showed that the 4x4 was capable of grinding up a rutted 30° incline without breathing hard, and shouldering a 1.5-tonne load at the same time. Having maximum torque on tap across such a wide area of the rev band clearly helped its ascent, and on occasions allowed the driver to leave the truck in gear, letting it crawl up a slope on its own without touching the accelerator.
Fitted as standard, a highly effective exhaust brake ensured descents almost as steep were drama-free. Operated by a switch on the steering column, it provides up to 50kW of braking power, and switching it off and on showed just how much retardation it can provide. Ample suspension articulation permitted the short-wheelbase variant to crawl over several large hummocks without grounding.
While the Canter 4x4’s cab cannot be classed as luxurious, most of the basics are there, it looks easy to clean out, and it can be ordered with climate control. Meanwhile, the crew cab’s rear bench seat conceals two large compartments that can be used to stow items such as high-visibility jackets and hard hats.
The Canter 4x4 should appeal to both public and private sector customers who may not have considered Fuso products before. Availability through the Mercedes network will do its fortunes no harm at all.

 

Verdict

A basic, uncomplicated but perfectly competent package with few direct competitors.



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