Car Reviews

Mitsubishi FH 215 vs. Isuzu FRR 33 – The Never-Ending Rivalry

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In Kenya, when one wants to buy a truck that can carry 10 to 11 tons of goods, there are two lorries that stand out; The Mitsubishi FH 215 and the Isuzu FRR 33. Drivers of these two trucks will always banter with each other about some of the features that each of the trucks lacks or some of the “useless” features in each of the trucks. Today, we examine these two trucks. Please note that the production of these trucks has since been stopped. In no particular order or preference, I will start with the Mitsubishi FH.

Mitsubishi FH 215

This one has a few nicknames on the streets including; mahakama, kifo, funeral home, mnyama, baby face, Mobile prison, Kamiti, Wamumu, mushugi (common with Kayole FH buses), shika adabu, gurage among others. Feel free to add others.

Mitsubishi FH

The Mitsubishi FH 215 has a 4 stroke 6.5 litre (6557 cc) 6D14-31 engine with 6 cylinders producing 160horse power and 430Nm/1800rpm. It incorporates a gear box with 5 forward gears and 1 reverse gear. Came with two fuel tanks each with a capacity of 100 Litres.

One of the most discussed issues of the FH is the brakes. It came with brakes are hydraulic and its signature exhaust brakes (freno). The suspension on the other hand consists of laminated leaf springs and hydraulic single-acting telescopic shock absorbers on the front.

Isuzu FRR 33

This one has a few nicknames though not as many as the FH. They include; mkeka (due to the big mats at the rear), kimgongo (Hold that thought, I will explain why later on), farasi (which also applies to the FRR 90) among other. Add others in the comments section.

The FRR 33 incorporates a 8 litre (8226cc) 6 cylinder naturally aspirated 6HH1-N engine with direct injection. This engine produces 185 horsepower and 461Nm/1700 rpm. For context, the FRR engine is similar to the one in the FSR save for the fact that the two use different gearboxes thus the engines have slight differences interms of physical size. The FRR 33 gearbox has 6 forward gears and 1 reverse gear although there were a few earlier versions that had 5 forward gears albeit not so common. It has a 200 litre fuel tank.

Isuzu in 3 of their F Series (FRR, FSR and FVR) preferred to use air braking over hydraulic dual circuit braking system for primary braking and an exhaust brake for auxiliary braking. Suspension on the FRR was pretty much the same as the one in the FH although the FH was more sturdy.

Analysis

Having looked at them, let us now focus on a few common differences and common issues mainly informed by experience and interacting with drivers who have experience in both. First, the FH does not have a sleeper cab as the FRR does. A sleeper cab is a room behind the car seats where the driver can sleep in. Two, the FH has crappy brakes. Drivers who have had this will tell you that this vehicle can easily kill you. The brakes easily fail as the linings get hot easily hence the origin of one of its nicknames, “Funeral Home (FH)”

I told you that I will explain why the FRR 33 is known as ‘mgongo’ or ‘kimgongo.’ Well, I have seen many instances where the chassis bends just right behind the cabin. This now ultimately leads to the cabin tilting backwards hence the name kimgongo. The chassis can however be reinforced. Drivers and owners who have had both the FRR and FH will tell you that, despite the Isuzu FRR having a bigger engine, it consumes less than the Mitsubishi FH.

On speed, the Isuzu FRR will show you dust in your Mitsubishi FH. The FRR has a higher ground clearance of 195mm compared to the FH’s 190mm. Lengthwise, the FRR is longer than the FH with an overall length of 8170 mm and 7745 mm respectively.

In terms of the width, the FRR seems to be a tad bit wider than its rival with coming in with 2200mm as against FH’s 2170mm. The Mitsubishi FH has a wheelbase of 4610mm and the FRR has 4850mm. Isuzu FRR 33 has a curb weight of 3225kgs and the FH has a curb weight of 2935kgs. Heightwise, FRR is rated higher with 2550mm and the FH comes in at 2400mm.

Both vehicles have a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of 9.9 Tonnes (9,900Kgs) and both have the 4X2 drive types.

When the two are converted to coaches, the FRR becomes a 51-seater bus while the Mitsubishi FH becomes a 45-seater bus.

I may not ultimately tell you which is the better option between the two but from the features and analysis, you can be the judge. The rivalry between the Mitsubishi FH 215 and the Isuzu FRR 33 is not one that will end any time soon. This article may not be conclusive, and I, therefore, invite corrections, additions, criticism, and comments on this FH, FRR comparison.

Find a comparison of the newer versions of these vehicles; the Isuzu FRR 90 and the Fuso FI here.

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Young Lawyer with a passion for vehicles.
Upcoming Motor Journalist.
L'écriture est ma passion.
Nissan Patrol Y 62 is the goal.
www.karimi.co.ke
karimi@spaceyamagari.com

#SpaceYaMagari
Karimi Junior
the authorKarimi Junior
Young Lawyer with a passion for vehicles. Upcoming Motor Journalist. L'écriture est ma passion. Nissan Patrol Y 62 is the goal. www.karimi.co.ke karimi@spaceyamagari.com

4 Comments

  • A very good article. Allow me to correct you on the fuel consumption/economy bit. Many may disagree but if you actually ask drivers, they will tell you conclusively that FH215B consumes a lot more fuel than FRR33LR. You see, a slightly bigger engine in terms of displacement doesn’t automatically mean more or higher consumption than a smaller one. This is especially the case when it comes to ISUZU. The same is true for the D-MAX versus the HiLux pickups which are 2.5L and 2.4L respectively.

    The main reason for this is that FRR33 has a 6th Overdrive Gear which almost consumes no fuel since by the time you get to that gear, the speed of the engine means that your foot is very relaxed on the accelerator and the vehicle is moving based on the force generated from the previous gears. That’s why it is called an Overdrive Gear. FH only has 5 gears and lacks this important 6th gear which makes all the difference when it comes to fuel economy.

    Secondly, ISUZU’s larger engine means that you do not have to overrev in order to achieve a certain level of power on the road. Being easy on the gas pedal, FRR is better in fuel economy than FH33.

    Thank you.

  • Well said.. with the Frr high ground clearance and a fully air brake system,, makes it a better machine..

  • FH is more durable. I have seen several run 7 years with the engine intact and is easily and affordably repairable when situation demands. There is one registration KAV driven by a friend that has never has had its engine, gearbox and diff touched for all those years(2005 to date). Yes, FRR may win some but gari ya hustler/ mkulima mdogo ni FH. Nimeona watu wengi wametajirishwa nayo.

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