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Exclusive! 300 Series on test!

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The new 300 is handsome and fits in with its bigger 500 and 700 brothers perfectly.After 40 years of successfully supplying transport operators with highly reliable and durable trucks and buses, Hino has launched an exciting new range of medium duty trucks – the Hino 300 Series. And FOCUS was the first magazine in the country to road test this long-awaited new truck! VIC OLIVER gets behind the wheels of the driver-friendly Hino 815 Crew Cab fitted with fully automatic transmission

The test vehicle was fitted with a five metre long dropside body and loaded to its full Gross Vehicle Mass rating of 7 300 kg, which represented a payload of 3 400 kg.

With seating for the driver and five passengers, plus a payload capacity of 3,4 tonnes, this highly versatile vehicle will appeal to those who need to transport passengers in safety and comfort while carrying a payload of goods.

The test route started at Midrand and proceeded north on the N1 to Pretoria, turning east to Witbank on the N4 and returning to Midrand on the N12 via Benoni. Total distance travelled was 288 km, and 45,04 litres of fuel was used – resulting in good fuel consumption of 15,64 litres per hundred kilometres travelled or 6,39 km per litre. It must be noted that being a hot day, the air conditioner was on for 70 percent of the trip, which obviously has a negative effect on fuel consumption.

Fitted with a Euro 3 turbocharged intercooled diesel engine which produces 110 kW at 2 800 r/min and 420 Nm at 1 400 r/min, there’s more than sufficient power to enable the fully loaded vehicle to achieve good productivity and fuel consumption. I found I was able to negotiate some of the steep gradients I encountered on the test route with ease and without losing too much speed.

The Hino fully-automatic six-speed transmission makes driving this vehicle a real pleasure and allows the driver to focus on driving the vehicle without the distraction of having to change gears and operate the clutch. It also reduces driver fatigue, increasing safety.

Gear changing in this transmission is so smooth and quick that as a driver or passenger you hardly feel the change and are only aware that a gear change has taken place by the change in engine sound.

The interior is designed to ease the drivers’ duties. Note the fully-automatic transmission.The transmission is fitted with an overdrive switch. When it is switched off, the transmission will only operate from first to fifth gear. A driver travelling in sixth gear with the overdrive switch turned on who then wants to change down a gear to overtake another vehicle or negotiate a gradient, has the option of switching the overdrive off – which results in the vehicle changing gear from sixth to fifth.

Another very nice feature of this Hino fully automatic transmission is the third and fourth gear “Lock Up” feature which, when selected, will lock the transmission in third or fourth gear. These gear positions are selected to maximise the effect of the engine exhaust brake, reducing the need to use the vehicle’s foundation brakes, which in turn extends brake lining and brake pad life.

Drum brakes are fitted all round. ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) is fitted as standard, adding to the safety of the vehicle. Tubeless radial tyres are now fitted, giving operators long tyre life and reduced tyre costs.

It’s clear that this Hino 815 Crew Cab has been built with the driver in mind. Standard equipment includes a good quality radio and CD player, as well as an effective air conditioner.

The only thing I disliked about this vehicle was the length of the dropside body that was fitted. A shorter body would enable better distribution of payload mass. My recommendation would be that the body be shortened and made to suit the chassis frame without the need to extend the rear chassis overhang.

With the many added value services that Hino offers – such as the 24 month unlimited warranty, 24-hour roadside assistance and a countrywide network of dealers to support the product – I believe we will see many of these good-looking new Hino 300 Series vehicles on our roads soon.

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