News & Media

Isuzu NMR 60-150 AMT Tri Tipper Media Review:

By Rod Chapman,

With extra payload and a two-pedal transmission, the new Isuzu NMR 60-150 AMT Tri Tipper is compact, nimble, and supremely easy to drive

The new 2020 Isuzu NMR 60-150 Tri Tipper may be billed as the replacement for the brand’s NLR 55-150 equivalent, but it’s more than that – it’s also an opportunity to tempt some tradies out of their utes.

Yes, with its 6000kg gross vehicle mass (GVM), the NMR 60-150 AMT Tri Tipper requires a light rigid truck licence, but the model is also available with a car-licence-friendly 4500kg GVM (the NMR 45-150 AMT Tri Tipper).

The new Isuzu NMR 60-150 Tri Tipper boasts an extra 500kg of payload and the option of a six-speed AMT transmission

Add in the ease and convenience of the six-speed automated manual transmission, the generous payload limits, and the sheer size of the tipper body, and there are clear benefits on offer here for tradies who prioritise commercial imperatives over the ‘lifestyle’ attributes of today’s typical dual-cab ute.

Because the numbers speak for themselves. The Isuzu NMR 60-150 Tri Tipper has a payload limit of around 2800kg (around 1300kg for the NMR 45-150 Tri Tipper) and a tipper body that’s 3.1m long and 1.8m wide. Isuzu says it has a maximum towing limit of up to 4500kg, provided gross combination mass (GCM) limits and other regulatory towing provisions are observed.

With a sub-2.5m wheelbase, tight U-turns are a breeze

Pricing? With its AMT transmission and tri-tipper body, this Isuzu 60-150 Tri Tipper is priced at $71,619 (including GST, plus on-road costs). Admittedly that’s a fair whack more than your bare-bones hay hauler, but it’s not outlandish compared to the prices currently asked of premium dual-cab utes.

If you don’t need to cart kids around or go off-roading, it’s worth some serious consideration – especially with the Federal Government’s instant asset write-off scheme in play until the end of 2020.

The Shinmaywa tipper body can swallow a heap of gear (or in our test truck’s case, over a tonne of sand!)

What’s new in the Isuzu NMR 60-150 Tri Tipper?

So, what’s on offer here? While the NMR 60/45-150 is available as a bare cab/chassis in short- and medium-wheelbase formats, the truck is also available in a number of short-wheelbase ‘Ready to Work’ tipper variants.

Beyond the two GVM ratings (4500kg and 6000kg), buyers can choose from a straight tipper body that tips to the rear or this multi-direction tri tipper, with either a five-speed manual or six-speed automated manual transmission. The latter adds $2000 to the asking price.

The six-speed automated manual transmission has a manual mode and first-gear takeoff function

The NMR 60/45-15 replaces the NLR 55/45-150 in Isuzu’s light-duty N Series truck range, effectively adding an extra 500kg of payload in the higher-GVM rating. The six-speed torque-converter-equipped automated manual transmission, or TC-AMT, is a new addition – previously the NLR 55/45-150 was only available with a five-speed manual.

But the NMR continues with a narrow-cab body which, at 1815mm wide, is 225mm narrower than Isuzu’s standard-cab N Series models. Combined with a compact 2490mm wheelbase, that makes the NMR 60/45-150 an easy proposition when accessing and negotiating tight worksites.

Also carrying over is the NMR’s 4JJ1 engine – a 3.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel rated at 110kW (150hp) at 2800rpm and 375Nm at 1600-2800rpm. It has Euro 5 emissions compliance achieved through an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system and a diesel particulate diffuser (DPD). There’s no selective catalytic reduction system so there’s no requirement for AdBlue.

Isuzu’s 4JJ1 engine is a 3.0-litre, four-cylinder unit with Euro 5 emissions compliance

Our test truck’s steel tri tipper body is made and fitted by ShinMaywa in Japan. It has a drop-side design, and is operated via a dump lever and ‘discharge direction’ lever in the cab.

The Tri Tipper body can tilt to the rear or either side; a standard (rear tipping only) tipper body is also available

What’s the Isuzu NMR 60/150 AMT Tri Tripper like to drive?

Driving the Isuzu NMR 60-150 AMT Trip Tipper is as easy as driving your average passenger car. Getting into or out of the cab is possibly even easier, given the low and broad single step, the door that opens to a full 90 degrees, the A-pillar grab handle and the massive door aperture.

Cabin entry or exit is super easy thanks to the large door aperture, the wide-opening door, the A-pillar grab handle and the low step

The driver’s seat is a basic cloth-upholstered item with four-way adjustment (no height adjustment), but the steering wheel is adjustable for both height and reach, there’s a proper dead pedal and there’s a heap of headroom.

But perhaps the best aspect is the clear vision afforded the driver. The A-pillars are really skinny and the side window glass extends all the way up to just below the roofline. The side mirrors, too, are excellent. Each unit is mounted really close in to the cab, where it has less impact on forward three-quarter vision. It’s a typical twin-deck setup, with a standard lens (with electric adjustment) complimented by a spot lens, both with electric heating.

The side mirror units give a great view to the rear and don’t impact too much on forward three-quarter vision

There’s nothing exceptional about the steering ratio, at 4.25 turns of the wheel lock to lock, but the turning circle is superb. Isuzu quotes a kerb to kerb figure of just 8.5 metres; I found I could execute a full U-turn on typical industrial-estate roads without a three-pointer.

The trusty four-pot engine is enthusiastic and willing. You’ll find a greater output in an equivalent Hino, but this is a thoroughly solid and dependable unit that has stood the test of time. With the AMT handling shifting duties, the engine spends most of its time around 2000rpm, but give it a kick and there’s a strong wave of grunt from 2000rpm to 3000rpm, just shy of its indicated redline. At 100km/h in sixth it’s spinning at 2200rpm.

On the road the NMR is no harder to drive than your average passenger car, and it’s also available with a car-licence-friendly 4.5t GVM

The AMT is really smooth and relatively swift in its operation, and it effectively allows operators to draw from a far larger pool of potential drivers. Isuzu says the AMT also enhances the longevity of the transmission as a whole, ultimately reducing maintenance costs.

Of course, you can always switch to manual mode for full control of your gearbox ratios and there’s a first-gear takeoff button on the side of the shifter, for when you need to get rolling with a full load on board.

The badge tells the story: ’60’ as in 6000kg GVM; ‘150’ as in 150hp; ‘TC-AMT’ as in automated manual transmission with torque converter

Ride and handling

The ride is actually pretty darn civilized, thanks in no small part to an independent front suspension set-up, while the disc brakes see the NMR pull up well. There’s an exhaust brake too, but it really doesn’t add a heap more retardation to the equation.

We had a load of 1100kg of sand, which didn’t really test the truck’s payload limit but did allow the suspension to settle and take the edge off the bumps and dips.

The sides and rear of the tipper body can be independently dropped like this or remain top hinged for quick and easy unloading

As for fuel economy, the trip computer was showing 17.0L at the end of our two days in the Isuzu NMR. We’d take that figure with a grain of salt, as we didn’t exactly rack up a heap of kays and the truck was brand new, with only 100km or so on the clock when we picked it up.

There’s a 75-litre diesel tank but no AdBlue to worry about; the NMR relies on EGR and a particulate filter to meet emissions compliance

Inside the cab

The cab itself is fairly typical of the breed, with grey fabric, plenty of hard plastics and a tough synthetic floor. It’s not completely Spartan, however.

The cabin is utilitarian but highly functional, and should prove robust and durable over the long haul

There’s a 6.2-inch multimedia unit with touchscreen complete with digital radio, Bluetooth streaming, and a pretty effective voice command system. All that’s missing is integrated steering wheel controls, so you don’t need to take your hands off the wheel (or eyes off the road) to adjust volume or initiate a call.

Factory integrated satellite navigation is an option, but wasn’t present in our test truck.

The multimedia unit works well and it does have a voice command function, but integrated steering wheel controls would be an improvement

But the stereo’s sound quality is pretty decent and overall the cab is really pretty quiet, with both engine noise and wind and road noise all nicely subdued. There’s not exactly masses of storage but there are a couple of handy overhead shelves. You can always keep paperwork in the door pockets or on top of the broad dash, and there’s a slide-out twin-cup holder in the centre of the dash.

All in all, it’s a pretty comfy place to be for the shorter-haul work at which the Isuzu NMR 60/45-150 Tri Tipper is aimed.

A digital trip computer complements the analogue dials

Safety hits and misses

On the safety front the Isuzu NMR 60/45-150 Trip Tipper has all the staples, like stability control, traction control and antilock brakes. It also has two air bags and a cab that’s been tested to ECE-R29 standards for strength.

However, there’s an elephant in the room here in that the light-duty offerings from Isuzu’s two prime rivals, Hino and Fuso, both now come with autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning. Isuzu tells us these potentially life-saving technologies are coming, and I’m sure that for Australia’s top-selling truck brand, they can’t come soon enough.

These Isuzu narrow-cab models are compact and nimble

Summing up

The Isuzu NMR 60-150 AMT Tri Tipper highlights the brand’s broader philosophy when it comes to serving the needs of Australian industry: there was nothing wrong with its predecessor, the NLR, but Isuzu went and improved on what was already a thoroughly solid base.

An extra half tonne of payload spells greater productivity and a better bottom line, while the appearance of an automated manual transmission just makes the driving experience that bit easier (ditto the search for new drivers).

Whether you’re replacing an existing light-duty tipper or a tradie stepping up from a ute, you can be sure Isuzu has done its homework in the rugged and capable NMR 60-150 AMT Tri Tipper.

A new Isuzu NMR tipper could well tempt a few tradies out of their dual-cab utes…

Specifications: 2020 Isuzu NMR 60-150 AMT Tri Tipper

Engine: 4JJ1-TCS 3.0-litre in-line four-cylinder turbo-diesel
Power: 110kW (150hp) at 2800rpm
Torque: 375Nm at 1600-2800rpm
Emissions: ADR 80/03 (Euro 5)
Transmission: Isuzu six-speed AMT with torque converter
Configuration: 4×2
Front suspension: Independent wishbone with coil springs/shocks
Rear suspension: Leaf springs with shocks
GVM: 6000kg (4500kg available)
GCM: 8000kg (9500kg with manual transmission)
Wheelbase: 2490mm
Fuel capacity: 75 litres
Brakes: Disc
Safety: Driver/passenger airbags, ABS, stability control with traction control, ECE-R29 compliant cab
Price: $71,619 (including GST, plus on-road costs)
Warranty: Three years, 2000 hours or 100,000km (extendable to five years, 4500 hours or 250,000km)