There’s a new automatic transmission version of the Hino 300 Series available.
That’s right, automatic transmission – not an automated manual and that’s a big step away from traditional light-duty truck configurations.
For donkey’s years these trucks were fitted with a five-speed manual transmission, but for many applications today an auto is a much better option.
Rental companies for example, as well as tradies, nurseries, councils and the like prefer to have a truck that takes care of the gear changes for the driver.
Sure, there’s automated manual transmissions (AMT) in light-duty trucks today – but I don’t think they work all that well in the little trucks.
Enter Hino with a fully automatic transmission in their 300 Series.
One application where the six-speed auto fits really well is in the small tipper market and the Hino 616 Auto Tipper is a must-drive proposition.
Part of the Hino ‘Ready to Go’ range, my test vehicle had a tonne of crushed tiles on board with the standard 4.5 tonne GVM configuration.
If you need extra capacity the Hino is also available as a 5.5 tonne truck, though this requires a light-rigid truck license.
This little truck is unbelievably smooth and quick too – it really does keep up easily with the traffic.
Where your traditional manual/AMT light-duty truck loses momentum when the gears are changing, the auto just accelerates away.
Often though an auto transmission lets you down with how it performs changing back down the ratios when more assistance is required.
No such issues here with the transmission nicely programmed to give the 4.0 litre engine plenty of assistance on the hills.
That turbo-diesel engine in this configuration delivers 110kW and 420Nm, that’s adequate for this application.
It’s such an easy truck to drive.
There’s really light steering, an absolutely incredible turning circle, big mirrors and fantastic visibility from the driver’s seat.
One complaint though, the mirror adjustment panel is located on the dashboard and this means you’re reaching forward to make adjustments, but that means your head has moved forward too.
So you really can’t adjust the mirrors in your natural driving position.
While as is the case with most Japanese trucks the exhaust brake could be more enthusiastic.
The Hino 300 Series driver’s seat has a suspension base, though it could have some more up and down travel in my opinion.
There’s a good arm rest on the door, though no arm rest for the driver’s left arm.
Unlike some others in this class you could sit three adults across in relative comfort.
There’s digital radio, Bluetooth and sat-nav, as well as a reasonably sized roof-mounted LED light (as well as the standard interior light).
Steering wheel mounted stereo/Bluetooth controls would be a nice future addition.
Driver comfort is aided by the standard fitment of tilt/telescopic steering wheel adjustment.
Longer drives are made easier with the standard fitment of cruise control.
Hino has provided a stack of vacant switch positions on the dashboard, and another handy feature is the large shelf type storage area on the lower section of the dash.
The glove box isn’t huge though, nor are the door pockets, though the two roof-mounted areas look like they’d be handy to have.
If you’re familiar with the Toyota 86 you’ll feel at home in the Hino – the two offerings share things like the instrument cluster and the air vents!
Access into the cab is easy and assisted by a nicely-sized step and well positioned grab handle on the A pillar.
Hino 300 Series Safety
The truck comes standard with stability control, as well as traction control and ABS brakes.
Airbags are limited to the driver and main passenger seat, the middle passenger misses out and gets just a two-point seatbelt.
Easy is the word with this Hino offering – easy to drive, easy to live with and a big step ahead of the traditional light-duty trucks we’ve seen on the roads for years.
Once you go automatic it’s very hard to go back to the old manual and AMT offerings in this segment – fully automatic is the future.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Hino 300 Series 616 Auto Tipper
- Engine: 4.0 litre turbo-diesel producing 110kW/420Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Load Rating – Front Axle: 2360kg, Rear Axle: 4400kg
- Approx Mass: 3050kg
- GVM: 4500kg
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 100 litres
- Overall Length: 5105mm