Peter Barnwell road tests and reviews the Hino 300 Series 616 IFS Tipper truck with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

There's a limit to how much flogging a tough-customer one-tonne ute can take. When you have to tote a few tonnes of rock or sand, you need to move up to something more serious.

The Hino 300 Series tipper we took for a stint of landscape gardening stood up to a task that would have broken a one tonner. It can be driven on a car licence, which is a bonus.

Over two days we transported a full load of ornamental stones for the garden, about 2000kg, plus a load of woodchip and a pallet of pavers, with the first two loads dumped into the 3.2mm thick steel tray by front end loader and the last lowered in with a forklift after dropping the sides.

The rock settled the Hino down on its suspension and it rode better as a result.

In trucks of this size, the level of sophistication is now quite high.

Offloading the stones and chip was easy, the large latches on the tailgate making it easy to move out of the way. Pull the tipping lever to the right of the steering wheel and away she goes to 60 degrees quick as a flash.

Tradies and raw material suppliers put this size tipper (1.9 cubic metres) to all manner of uses and as a work tool it is robust, reliable and economical to run.

Our truck was the standard cab 616 IFS, base model with a GVM of 4495kg — just under the car licence cut off. It's also available in wide body cab. Towing capacity is up to 3500kg.

Hino makes 300s up to 8500kg GVM, a much larger truck in every dimension.

The test model's tipper tray had a dealer fitted load cover in shade cloth that rolls out from a spool at the front.

In trucks of this size, the level of sophistication is now quite high. The Hino's coil spring front suspension makes progress much more comfortable, unladen or fully loaded, while the multi-leaf rear springs absorb the tonnage.

Disc brakes front and rear are abetted by stability control and ABS, while the fitment of a handy exhaust brake assists on the safety equation. The easy-start system means no waiting first thing in the morning and the 24V electrics work from two 12V batteries mounted in series.

The ladder chassis is in large section channel rails. All maintenance points are easily accessible with the cab tilted forward.

As a cab-over, the 300 has limitations in passenger comfort but Hino adds such passenger car features as multipurpose multimedia screen with Bluetooth and digital radio. However, the wheel is still flat mounted and the seat adjustment is limited.

Keeping the driver informed are numerous warning lights, buzzers and meters.

The cab is relatively comfortable with hard wearing materials.

Powering the dual rear wheels is a 4.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (110kW/420Nm). A diesel particulate filter limits exhaust emissions to Euro 5 levels. We averaged 12.0L/100km.

In the test model, the five-speed manual transmission had a super-low first and a relatively high top cog — for general driving, second gear takeoffs are the go. The gearbox gate, perversely, had reverse where first usually is.

Top is useful on the highway with the Hino 300 easily sustaining 110km/h loaded, with down changes required on long uphills.

The optional six-speed auto would be easier to drive and more frugal.

Hino's tight turning circle is a particular benefit, making difficult site access easier.

The cab is relatively comfortable with hard wearing materials, an easy to use layout and, a deft touch, heated exterior mirrors.