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Road Test: Isuzu Grafter Green

Isuzu Truck updates its light range with the launch of Grafter Green, says Neil McIntee.

SECTOR Tipper   POWER 123bhp   Gross weight 3.5-tonnes   PAYLOAD 1,256kg

Isuzu Grafter Green

Isuzu Truck has taken its range of 3.5-tonne Grafter chassis cabs to Euro 6, with the introduction of a new 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine. The good news is that it does not require AdBlue to function, thanks to Lean NOx Trap technology. It replaces the 3.0-litre unit from the previous Grafter and offers much improved fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. Grafter Green is so clean, that it’s capable of operating in the new London ultra-low emission zone.

Despite the significant drop in engine capacity, power and torque have increased slightly to 123bhp and 320Nm respectively. The four-cylinder motor drives the rear wheels (either single or twin) via a new six-speed manual gearbox and clutch weight has been halved. Other major changes to Grafter include independent double wishbone spring/damper front suspension, improved rack and pinion power steering, a redesigned cab interior and a reduction in overall noise levels.

Available with a choice of two wheelbases (2,490mm or 3,350mm), Grafter Green chassis cabs are lighter than their predecessors and consequently provide much improved body/payload potential. Weighing in at just 1,710kg, the single rear wheel SWB chassis cab is 152kg lighter than its predecessor, while the twin rear wheel LWB is 150kg lighter than the old model. Grafter Green has been integrated into Isuzu Truck’s Driveaway pre-bodied programme, with both tipper and dropside models available from launch.

From behind the wheel of a short-wheelbase, twin rear wheel tipper, we can report that the new engine is a real beauty. It’s smooth and refined, and who would have thought a small truck-based 3.5-tonne tipper would perform so well with a 1.9-litre diesel under its forward-tilting cab? But perform it does, thanks to peak torque coming in from just 1,600rpm. It also benefits out on the open road from the six-speed gearbox, while retaining impressive low speed maneuverability when fully loaded. The reduced clutch weight helps, though the gearbox remains long-throw and doesn’t like to be rushed.

Ride quality has improved, with the revised front suspension better able to control nose-diving under braking, but to perform at its best it needs to have a load in the back. Steering feel has also improved substantially.

Thanks to an alloy load bed and body sides, along with the chassis cab being lighter than its predecessor, the Grafter Green SWB tipper provides a substantial 1,256kg of maximum payload. Tipper operation is courtesy of a wander lead control unit, which lives in a holster to the rear of the driver’s seat. To aid loading, all three sides of the body can be dropped down and if necessary the rear corner posts removed as well, to turn it into a flatbed. The tailgate can easily be configured to be top-hinged for unloading.

Cab access is simple thanks to remote central locking, 90°opening doors and a convenient step. Once inside, the driver sits high-up with a commanding view of the road ahead and large door mirrors provide excellent rearward vision. The steering column is rake and reach-adjustable, and the driver gets a fully adjustable suspension seat.


What we think

What a difference a new engine makes. The Grafter Green tipper is much more refined, more fuel-efficient and has a higher payload than its predecessor.

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Written by Dan Gilkes

Dan has been a commercial vehicle and construction equipment journalist for almost 30 years. An automotive engineer and former fleet manager, he has driven almost every van, pickup and truck that has been launched in Europe over that time. As editor of VFW, his aim is to keep readers up to date with the latest developments in the light commercial world.

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