I HAVE never been on a test drive quite like the Hino 300 Series High Horsepower test.
Hino invited journalists to test out the first of the new series in a drive from Sydney to the Blue Mountains and then to Bathurst.
I first jumped into the 300 Series 921, with six-speed double overdrive true automatic transmission. This is the first light-duty truck in Australia to break the 200Hp rating - making it the most powerful in its class.
I needed all that power in Sydney's hectic traffic.
Its JO5E five-litre four-cylinder intercooled turbo-diesel engine delivers over 200Hp (205Hp/151kW) and teams high power with a medium-duty truck-like 600Nm of torque.
The truck was fully loaded, but cruised up hills with ease and was quick off the mark.
Hino have enough of everything when it comes to the mod cons you would expect in the truck including reversing camera, bluetooth and you can even charge your phone in the USB port - or use it to play music.
In fact to celebrate the launch of the 920 and 921 300 Series models Hino are offering reversing camera as standard for a limited time. The camera is integrated into the 6.1 inch high-definition touch-screen equipped multimedia unit, which can run up to three cameras at one time.
The ride was smooth and the scenery beautiful up to the Blue Mountains.
There I got to have a crack at the manual 920. The box was a little bit stiff, but that would make sense considering these trucks came straight to use off the assembly line and had not been driven in at all.
However the synchromesh was user friendly and the drive out to Bathurst was pleasant and comfortable.
The highlight of the trip however, was cruising around Mt Panorama in the Hino.
It was the ultimate test of the high horsepower models and even though we probably recorded the longest lap times in history, the Hinos handled all the twists and bends of the mountain and the haul up the hill.
The 920 has a six-speed overdrive manual transmission and delivers 189Hp (139kW) and 510Nm.
These new engines deliver their torque in a flat, linear fashion which Hino says results in an unrivalled combination of driveability and efficiency. Available in both single and crew cab configurations, the High Horsepower 300 Series models provide capacity for larger towing capability and bigger payloads thanks to a new, wider, straight-frame chassis featuring stronger steel rails and a grid hole design that allows for easier installation of bodies and auxiliary items.
Externally, the new High Horsepower models are differentiated from the rest of the 300 Series by a slightly tougher stance, their 920 and 921 badges and eye-catching chrome grille and bumper accent.
Hino Australia Chairman and CEO Steve Lotter said that the launch of the High Horsepower models has made the Hino 300 Series the most competitive light-duty truck range in the country.
"Many of us at Hino have now spent a fair bit of time behind the wheel of the High Horsepower 300 Series models, and it has become apparent just how special these new models really are," Mr Lotter said.
"Hino now has the most powerful light truck to be sold into the Australian market, and it's coupled with a real automatic transmission.
"The 920 and 921 models are joining a range of trucks that offer the best available safety in class, a range of efficient turbo-diesel engines and a Hybrid option, and a comprehensive body and chassis range.
"We really believe we've got the product mix right, and combined with Hino's High Performance people and culture, we're expecting great things from this exciting addition to the 300 Series," Mr Lotter said.
Hino Australia has engineered its own towbar which integrates perfectly with the 300 Series High horsepower 920 and 921's new wide frame chassis to help carry more equipment.
It features as standard fitment a 50mm tow ball capable of towing a trailer with a load of up to 3500kg or can alternatively be upgraded to a 75mm tow ball or a pintle hook for a towing capacity of up to 4500kg.