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Isuzu updates best-selling N Series truck range

Significant changes to Isuzu N Series range to help keep it in number-one position

15 Oct 2018

ISUZU Australia Limited (IAL) says the changes to its best-selling N Series truck range will ensure it maintains its 30-year reign as the best-selling model in its segment, and that the company must continue to deliver changes that customers want.
With many of its changes coming as a result of customer feedback, Isuzu has made improvements to on-road driveability, comfort and convenience for the two models that sit atop the light-duty and medium-duty heavy commercial segments.
Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the updated N Series, IAL chief engineer of product strategy Simon Humphries said a brand does not dominate a segment by sitting on its hands.
“We’re pretty confident – 30 years is OK, it’s in the bag … It’s never business as usual, not in this fast-changing market, and the new N Series is testament to that,” he said.
“They may seem like incremental changes but to some customers, some of those changes or those collections of changes are going to make a big difference to them, and will be enough reason for them to either stick with us or switch to us.
“And we’re always looking for that edge because we’re number one but we want to be nimble enough and hungry enough to be like a number two who is chasing the leader.”
Mr Humphries said that cooperation with head office in Japan has been critical in implementing the Australian-market changes.
“Because we’ve had a good, long track record of being number one in this market the guys in Japan do  listen to us, and they do their best to give us what’s needed for this market. The NPS (4x4 N Series)  is a good example – that was pretty much originally developed for Australia.”
He said IAL requested many of the N Series changes, such as the inclusion of a five-speed automated manual transmission on the NPS 4x4 light truck – making it the first two-pedal 4x4 light truck on the Australian market.
The AMT has been developed to handle Australia’s tough conditions, with the transmission fluid cooler separated from the radiator to increase cooling capacity in high ambient temperatures and demanding terrain.
IAL director and COO Andrew Harbison said the inclusion of the AMT for the NPS gave the company a big lift in the segment.
“This is a massive step for these applications. We know that the industry has been crying out for this and we also know that once a company provides the efficiency and ease of operation of a two-pedal transmission, there is little chance they’ll want to go back,” he said.
Popular in applications such as fire brigades and mining services, the NPS has also changed its standard tyres from Michelin XZT 8.5R17.5 rubber to Bridgestone L330 225/80R17.5s, which IAL says improves off-road tread and also increases steer axle limit from 2900kg to 3100kg.
Independent front suspension (IFS) has been included on key variants across the range, replacing the live-axle and leaf spring set-up of past models.
IAL says the move to IFS results in a more comfortable and car-like handling feel, aiding cornering and bump steer, while the simultaneous inclusion of rack-and-pinion steering further modernises dynamics.
A new infotainment system has been added to the N Series range, namely a 6.2-inch touchscreen system running and Android Auto operating system which includes USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and DAB+ digital radio.
Two engines are available in the N Series range, starting with the 3.0-litre 4JJ1 turbo-diesel four-cylinder donk, a derivative of which is used in the Isuzu Ute D-Max and MU-X ranges.
It outputs 110kW at 2800rpm and 375Nm from 1600-2800rpm, and according to IAL, offers 10 to 15 per cent better fuel economy than competitors in the 4x2 and 4x4 ute segments.
The larger of the two engines is a 5.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder unit, outputting 114kW/419Nm in the 4.5 and 5.5-tonne GVM models, up to 140kW/513Nm in the heavier GVM classes. 
A new diesel oxidisation catalyst exhaust emissions system has been fitted to the 5.2-litre engine, which requires less maintenance for operations in which large amounts of engine idling occurs. The Euro 5-compliant engine does not require the use of AdBlue or a diesel particulate filter.
Pricing for the extensive N Series range varies between the low-$40,000 mark through to just under $70,000 for the most popular models.
Isuzu N Series sales have increased so far in 2018, with 3498 examples of the light-duty version sold to the end of September, representing a 1.7 per cent increase over the same time last year.
It leads other light-duty offerings like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (2528), Hino light duty (2074) and Fuso Canter light duty (1733).
The N Series also leads the medium-duty segment with 2423 sales, a 13.3 per cent year-on-year increase.
Competition comes from the likes of the Hino medium duty (1624), Fuso Fighter (835) and MAN medium duty (536).

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