We have LIFT-off

We have LIFT-off

The next generation of the popular Fuso Canter has been launched locally. GAVIN MYERS attended and found the whole shebang quite LIFTing.

The decision-makers at Daimler Trucks and Buses must’ve known they were on to a good thing when, in 2003, the decision was taken to buy equity in Mitsubishi Fuso. Ten years down the line, global Fuso sales accounted for 37 percent of Daimler’s total truck sales …

Not only was 2013 a good year for the brand’s sales, but it was also the 50th anniversary of its Canter range; of which there have been seven previous generations. And, now, the latest eighth generation – known as the Canter LIFT (for Light-Duty International Future Truck) – has landed on the African continent.

Good looking and easy to drive, the Canter LIFT is also comfortable and spacious in single and double cab.Having sold over 100 000 units, since originally launching in 2010, the LIFT enters the South African market with an impressive reputation. It was subject to three-million kilometres of testing, was the first commercial vehicle to win a Car of the Year special award in its home market last year and was awarded Ireland’s Best Energy Efficient Product Award.

At this point you may be asking why it took four years for the LIFT to arrive on local shores. The answer, according to Fuso product manager Duncan Prince, again points to South Africa’s poor fuel quality – the correct engine had to be made available, meaning other markets at the level of Euro 5 or 6 took priority.

The engine available in South Africa is rated at Euro 3. It is essentially the same three-litre, 16-valve 4P10 common-rail turbodiesel unit as offered on the higher Euro-rated models, but without the Selective Catalytic Reduction and its required AdBlue urea solution.

Five model options are offered at launch with payload ratings ranging from 2,5 to five tonnes: the FE6-130 manual (96 kW and 300 Nm), FE7-150 manual and Duonic (110 kW and 370 Nm) and FE8-150 Duonic in single and double cab (110 kW and
370 Nm).

The engine is fitted with a three-stage exhaust brake as standard, and also features a new cartridge-type oil filter to improve service costs. Regarding gearbox options, the Canter LIFT brings another first to the South African market: a double-clutch gearbox. You might have already fathomed that it’s called Duonic – and it’s a rather clever piece of kit.

Good looking and easy to drive, the Canter LIFT is also comfortable and spacious in single and double cab.Unlike a conventional automatic or automated-manual (AMT) gearbox, a dual-clutch unit pre-selects the next gear so that, when it is engaged, there is no loss of torque or any shift-shock – a boon for maintaining momentum when lugging around a heavy load.

The Duonic offering is quite intelligent. It features a maintenance-free wet clutch for reduced maintenance costs. There is an Eco mode that keeps a strict eye on engine revs, shifting earlier and keeping the engine in the green band at all times. The transmission also has a creep function for easy parking and the driver can shift gears manually if required.

The gear lever has been relocated to the dashboard; one of the numerous improvements the Canter’s interior has benefited from and one that allows comfortable seating for two front passengers. A “multi-info” display takes centre stage in the instrument binnacle, conveying all manner of pertinent information to the driver. The cab also gets a driver’s airbag, enhanced storage capacity, power windows, central locking, air-conditioning and a radio/CD with two speakers.

On the road the Canter lived up to its promise of an easy drive. Left to its own devices, the Duonic box shifts so seamlessly and smoothly that the only indication of this is the continually lowering revs. In Eco mode it shifts into the highest possible gear without delay and rides the engine’s torque plateau to maintain momentum.

Braking is strong thanks to the exhaust brake and dual-calliper disk brakes fitted all-round, these aided by the ABS anti-lock system with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. Fuso has also fitted as standard front and rear stabiliser bars for better chassis stabilisation with a heavy load.

Godfrey Hani, head of Fuso Trucks SA, says the launch of this vehicle is a defining moment for the company.Although the launch units were fitted with bodies, they were unladen, so the effect of this suspension improvement wasn’t apparent. However, it can be noted that the Canter LIFT rides exceptionally comfortably. Standard wide-angle mirrors on the larger models make for easy manoeuvrability.

The company says that safety, driver comfort, extended reliability, high durability and low cost of ownership are what make the Canter so popular. We were able to experience the first two and, to prove its seriousness about the rest, Fuso is offering the LIFT with service intervals of up to 25 000 km and a two-year unlimited kilometre bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Pricing is also exceptionally keen, the FE6 starts at R295 000, while the FE8 Double Cab rounds the range off at R403 000. Clearly the Canter is not the best-selling truck in the Daimler stable without good reason.

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