Pint-sized Hino 300 delivers big grunt

By: Steve Skinner, Photography by: Barry Ashenhurst


Hino’s new high horsepower light-duty truck has plenty of get-up-and-go, and it comes with the latest safety technology.

Pint-sized Hino 300 delivers big grunt
The Hino 300 series 921 crew cab auto.

 

 

The new leader in the light-duty grunt stakes is Hino with its new 300 series models.

We recently drove the 300 series 921 from Sydney down to Wollongong and back.

The ‘9’ stands for 8.5 tonnes GVM rounded up, and the ‘21’ stands for 205hp also rounded up.

The 921 has the Aisin 6-speed fully automatic gearbox, and it’s extremely smooth.

 

ENGINE

The smaller four litre Hino 300 Series is rated at up to 165hp (121kW) with 460Nm of torque.

For around $5,000 extra (depending on the specs of course) you can now choose the high horsepower version with its five litre engine, which breaks the double century barrier by maxing out at 205hp (151kW).

Torque is a relatively massive 600Nm.

It’s not that long ago that this engine was in Hino’s medium-duty 500 series trucks.

 

ROAD TEST

We cruised down the freeway between Sydney and Wollongong at 100km/h at just a touch over 2,000rpm, with a payload of wet sand weighing a bit over three tonnes.

There’s no cruise control to keep you in check, but Hino says that is coming within 12 to 18 months.

The little truck pulled well up the steep grades on the freeway, dropping down to just 75km/h or so.

It was going up the very steep Mt Ousley on the edge of Wollongong that the high-power Hino really lived up to its name. The little truck cruised up more like a car than a truck.

However going down Mt Ousley the exhaust brake on the 921 felt like it wouldn’t pull the skin off a custard.

This is because, surprisingly, the Aisin auto can only be manually set as low as third gear, therefore revving only as high as 1,800 rpm, which meant the foot brake often needed to be used to keep the vehicle below the 40km/h speed limit.

Mind you, it felt like there was never any risk of brake fade, especially with the four-wheel ventilated discs, which is another good safety feature of this truck. And hills like this are very few and far between in Australia anyway.

The exhaust brake does come in handy down lesser hills at 5th gear, by working close to the red-line and by telling the gearbox to stay in 5th when your foot is off the throttle.

The little unit steered and handled remarkably well on the hilly and windy coastal road back to Sydney.

That could have something to do with the wider chassis rails needed to cater for the bigger engine and payloads.

 

SAFETY FEATURES

The 300 Series already boasts impressive safety features including seat belt pre-tensioners, driver and passenger airbags, ECE R29 crash conformity, ABS and traction control.

It was a rainy day, and this brings us to what is probably the highlight of this little Japanese truck: the entire 300 Series range has vehicle stability control (VSC) – which is mandatory in cars – as standard.

 

INSIDE THE CAB

The 921 has electric controls for the heated mirrors which don’t obstruct vision, excellent visibility thanks to the very thin A-pillars manufactured using high-tensile steel, multimedia unit with reversing camera, rear cab heating and air-conditioning, handy overdrive on/off button, and so on.

The driver’s seat has torsion bar suspension with a magnetic dampener.

However, the windscreen demister on the demo truck wasn’t working. There was no grab handle to get in and out of the back of the crew cab, which Hino concedes is an issue and says it will make a "running change" to install one.

Also, the crew cab was perhaps a touch on the noisy side.

Check out more about the high horsepower 300 Series Hino in the October 2014 issue of Owner//Driver.

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