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Hino's IFS a comfort aid

Instead of the conventional rigid axle and leaf springs slung under the front of just about every truck on the market, including the rest of the 300 range, the Hino 3614 has a double wishbone arrangement with coil springs, much the same as you find under your average family four-door.

The car-like suspension set-up is used to provide the driver with more ride comfort than the rigid axle can, and works a treat with much-reduced bump impact over the sort of surfaces you find around most towns.

It's not really designed to handle the rough going as the rigid axle set-up is, but if you're a tradie or small businessman working around town and driving on reasonably good roads most of the time, it's worth considering.

Coupled with the coil spring IFS is rack-and-pinion steering, giving the 3614 greater precision and stability. The result is a much more car-like performance.

The 3614 has a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of 500kg but can be derated to 4495kg so it can be driven on a car licence if needed. The front axle loading drops from 2180kg to 2060kg with the IFS.

A narrow cab provides reasonable accommodation for three burly workers on a neat cloth-trimmed bench seat, the centre back of which can be lowered to form a working surface complete with a couple of drink holders when the third seat isn't in use.

The Hino cab is the most modern of the small trucks presently on offer. It's nicely designed and well laid-out with good-quality plastics and fittings that make it a pleasant place to spend the working hours.

It has plenty of features, including standard airconditioning, power windows, a good-quality sound system with CD player and all controls nicely within reach.

Beating away under the cab is Hino's Euro 4-compliant 4.0-litre turbodiesel, which pumps out 103kW at 2700rpm and 364Nm at 1800rpm. On the road it has plenty of get up and go when asked to accelerate, but at the same time is very flexible and will lug from 1000rpm without complaint.

It's hooked up to a five-speed gearbox that's quite low-geared in the lower ratios but which in the higher gears allows it to build some decent momentum.

The five-speed is a carry-over from the Dutro and the shift is clunky, particularly compared to the new six-speed fitted to the wide-cab models with their more powerful engine.

The 3614 is also equipped with a driver's airbag, seatbelt pretensioners and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, which also includes Electronic Brake Force Distribution for even more effective braking.

Like all 300 models equipped with manual transmission, the 3614 features Easy Start, an electronic device that holds it momentarily while the driver moves off and prevents it from rolling back in those few seconds he's fumbling between brake, clutch and gas pedals.

It can be adjusted to come off quickly if you're on relatively flat roads or more slowly if you're driving in hilly terrain. It works well and adds to the driving safety.

To enjoy the comfort of the IFS-equipped 300 you'll need to part with $45,740.