First Drive: Fuso Canter

Date: Monday, April 28, 2014   |   Author: Steve Banner

Tougher exhaust emission rules have prompted Fuso to upgrade the Canter.

Sold through Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealerships, the forward-control workhorse comes with a reworked version of the Fiat powertrain Technologies (FpT) 3.0-litre diesel fitted to the outgoing model and deployed in other vehicles such as the Fiat Ducato.

Changes include the addition of stop/start, an upgraded cooling system, an electromagnetic fan clutch, the use of low-friction engine oil, and a 25% increase in injection pressure in a bid to aid compliance with the Euro5b+ and Euro6 emissions standards. More sound insulation has
been fitted, says Fuso, to offset any rise in noise. increasing injection pressure to up to 2000 bar makes no difference to power output and torque figures, however. They remain at 130hp/300Nm, 150hp/370Nm and 175hp/430Nm for the three engine options.

The alterations to the engine along with new, longer, axle ratios, the use of low rolling-resistance tyres on certain models and reduced manual gearbox friction losses do mean better fuel consumption, though, claims the manufacturer. it is up to 9% lower than what was on offer from the previous Canter, it says, while CO2 emissions are down by the same amount.

Marketed as both a 4x2 and a 4x4, the Canter grosses at from 3.5 to 8.6 tonnes – the latter is a newcomer and extends the range upwards from the previous 7.5-tonne limit – and is marketed in both single- and double-cab guise.

January’s requirement that trucks must meet the Euro6 exhaust emission rules means that all Canters above six tonnes are fitted with Selective Catalytic reduction (SCr) technology, which means they have to be topped up periodically with adBlue. a mixture of artificial urea and demineralised water, it is sprayed into the exhaust gases to clean them up. The Canter’s adBlue tank holds 12 litres and weighs 30kg. light commercials will not be required to comply with Euro6 until 2016.

Electronic Braking Control has become standard while Electronic Stability programme is now
fitted to all models aside from the 6.5-tonne 4x4, which gets an engageable reduction gear as standard for increased traction. The off-roading Canter can tackle gradients of up to 60%.

The vehicle has for some time been marketed with hybrid technology, said to achieve a
fuel saving of up to 23% for a fairly hefty additional cost of around £7000 plus VaT and a 150kg weight penalty, and is in service with a number of UK fleets. longer gear ratios plus an optimised gearshift mean that the latest Eco Hybrid model’s fuel usage and CO
2 output are even lower, says Fuso.

The Canter comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, with a Duonic six-speed twin-clutch automated ’box up for grabs as an alternative. it reduces transmission wear and enhances fuel economy, Fuso contends.

Controlled by Mercedes- Benz’s parent Daimler, Fuso is marketing the newcomer with a range of factory-built tipper and dropside bodies. However, at the time of writing it was uncertain whether they would be marketed in the UK.

So what’s the latest Canter like to drive? We took to the highways of portugal – all Canters sold in Europe are built at a plant in Tramagal in the centre of the country – in a 130hp short-wheelbase 3.5-tonne tipper to find out. Perhaps the biggest surprise is just how good the handling
is on twisty, hilly roads -– not quite what you’d expect from a forward-control light commercial – and how much grunt the engine has. although the vehicle was heavily laden with concrete blocks, the 3.0-litre diesel pulled strongly up inclines and there was no need to work too hard with the gearbox. That is perhaps just as well, as the gear change can be a mite clunky. There were times, too, when the suspension struggled with some of the rougher road surfaces.

in-cab noise levels could stand to be better controlled, despite the additional sound insulation Fuso says it has installed. it’s the penalty one pays, perhaps, for sitting on top of the engine.

Easy enough to access despite the forward-control configuration, the three-seater cab is roomy, and offers good vision ahead and to either side, especially at T-junctions.

Unusually for a 3.5-tonner, the Canter comes with an exhaust brake to help slow you when descending a steep incline heavily laden. There seems little point in bothering to activate it, though, because the degree of retardation it offers is barely discernible.

Finally, the Tramagal factory was proudly displaying an electric E-cell Canter prototype when we visited, but there is no indication as to when it will be available in volume in Europe. interest in electric light commercials is high, but signed orders are far harder to come by.

Verdict

A solid if unglamorous little work- horse, it’s certainly worth a look if you’re a builder searching for some- thing durable to use on local work.

 



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