The competent all-wheeler Canter 4×4 returns to full form in the latest model to be released by Fuso. Diesel News got the lowdown during a drive program at a Melbourne 4×4 proving ground.
It’s a bit of a climb getting into the cab, but once seated the extra elevation makes for superb all-round visibility. Rear view mirrors are the same as used on the regular Canter, mounted on stout brackets pivoting inwards and seeming well up to the task of surviving the odd tree branch hit.
The first obstacle on the test course is a series of 45o side batters to test chassis twistability to the max. Even with a 750 kg earthmoving machine tyre as payload the Canter feels safe and stable at this angle. No doubt the lower centre of gravity thanks to the gooseneck chassis helps in this respect.
The next obstacle was a 45o hill which tested ramp-over (centre under-body ground clearance) as well as approach and departure angles. Using second gear with a short run-up achieved the desired result to maintain traction up the slope. Again the LSD at the rear proved its worth in the greasy conditions.
During this test Canter’s ground clearance at both ends and in the middle proved ample. Even though the transfer case is the lowest point between the axles, it didn’t bottom out on any of the tests. Other components like the 100 litre fuel tank and diesel particulate filter are tucked up high and well out of harm’s way.
The crew cab has a 3415 mm wheelbase while the single cab version can be had with either the same or a shorter 2815 mm wheelbase. Obviously the short wheelbase single cab would have a superior ramp-over ability. And much better turning circle too. In fact, it’s a full 2.0m better at 11.4m (kerb to kerb) compared to 13.4m for the crew cab. This difference impacts on manoeuvrability quite markedly.
While the test vehicle was relatively lightly loaded, the torquey engine proved to be one sweet unit. It’s a 3.0 litre common-rail item delivering 110 kW between 2840 and 3500 rpm in concert with 370 Nm of torque produced in a wide band between 1350 and 2840 rpm. This flat topped torque curve is the key to good flexibility which is desirable in tricky off-road situations where changing gears midstream is not wise.
The transmission is a five-speeder with synchromesh between second and fifth. No synchro on first is not an issue in low range as second or third can be used to start off in most situations.
Other elements of the test course included a particularly boggy section that Canter sailed through with ease and a circular loop of dirt track where I was able to reach 60 km/h in low range fifth with the engine doing 3600 rpm.
With the tyre payload removed and 4×2 high-range selected, Canter gave a good account of itself on the run back to the airport. Even in the non-suspended passenger seat the ride was reasonable and the cab interior relatively quiet when cruising at 100 km/h.
In the final wash-up, it’s clear the reinstallation of a dual range transfer case has returned true 4×4 capability to Canter. With vital elements including ample ground clearance, a torquey engine and a roomy, well-appointed cab, it ticks all the boxes for this type of vehicle’s target market.