After the return of the two-speed transfer case, Canter 4×4 gets street cred back. On the previous iteration of this model Fuso had decided it was something it and its Canter customers could live without.
Obviously unimpressed with the concept of a Canter ‘softroader’, the moans of disappointment from Aussie Fuso dealers and their clientele over this seemingly misguided decision were apparently loud enough to be heard in Japan, leading to the reinstatement of low/high range transfer gears typically considered mandatory in a true off-road.
First up, Fuso gave Diesel a rundown on the ins and outs of the test vehicle, detailing features of the rural fire service spec which accounts for a decent proportion of Canter 4×4 sales.
This model has manual winding windows, no central locking and no driver or passenger airbags. This is because there are circumstances during fire-fighting, usually when the wind changes direction, when a fire might suddenly sweep over the vehicle, forcing the team to take shelter inside. In that situation the battery could fail so you need to be able to manually wind the windows and unlock the doors.
The reason for the truck having no airbags is that in situations of extreme heat they can actually deploy spontaneously, causing injury to those inside.
The chassis is higher at the front then drops down at the back. This means the body is mounted lower which lowers the centre of gravity and also makes loading and unloading easier.
As for running gear, the package is typically old-school, including multi-leaf springs, drum brakes (albeit with ABS and EBD) and manual locking front hubs that enable part time 4WD for enhanced fuel economy and reduced tyre and mechanical wear during on-road use.
A concession to modernity is that 4WD and range selection are now achieved by dash mounted buttons which operate a vacuum servo unit on the transfer case. This is in stark contrast to the previous cable operated selection.
Even with the simplicity of manual winding windows Fuso still install a sat-nav unit with Bluetooth and audio visual, which is probably the only expensive bit of electronic gear in the truck.
The Canter 4×4 has a number of advantages over its rivals, the gooseneck chassis, more comfortable cruising at 110 km/h due to different gear ratios and a 200 kg lighter tare weight with the same 6500 kg GVM.
At 100 km/h cruising speed in overdrive fifth, the tacho needle indicates just under 3000 rpm while at the engine’s maximum 4100 rpm, theoretical top speed is 123km/h.
Fuso admit in Australian conditions the chassis does twist more than the Japanese engineers thought possible. As a result, they beefed it up to almost double the strength of the previous model, hence the GVM rise from 6.0 to 6.5 tonnes.