BODIES: Bus 4x4

By: Matt Wood


Bus 4x4 showcased a new range of off and on road bus models in Brisbane recently

BODIES: Bus 4x4
New bus models line up at Murarrie in Brisbane

If the smell of a campfire gets you all misty eyed and the sensation of sand between your toes scratches the freedom itch then you’ll be inclined to agree that there’s something kind of alluring about a purpose built off-road vehicle.

However, if lawn clippings bring you out in a rash and a lack of ambient light makes you nervous, you may well want to keep turning the page.

Queensland-based bus supplier Bus 4x4 has managed to put together a range of vehicles that will either inspire the traveller or create anxiety in home bodies, by offering a range of go anywhere people movers.

The range stretches from All Wheel Drive (AWD) and 4x4 vehicles based on the Toyota Commuter and Ford Transit to the Toyota Coaster and the towering IVECO truck based four- wheel drive Tonto.

Not to be content with strictly off-road spec vehicles, Bus 4x4 is also the Australian agent for the Malaysian-built Autobus brand, manufactured by Quality Bus and Coach.

The Autobus range consists of the Hyundai-based MD9000 midi coach and the Cummins powered SD12 2-axle coach.

Bus 4x4 and Autobus recently launched their new range in Brisbane.

An open day held on Friday, April 19 under brilliant Queensland sunshine attracted a crowd of about 100 to the banks of the Brisbane River at Murarrie to pick over the offerings.

Having all of the line-up in one place made for a great opportunity to check and compare the range of vehicles on display.

KITTED UP

The heart of Bus 4x4’s business lies in the locally manufactured front differential conversion.

This conversion kit essentially converts a standard Toyota Coaster into a true hi-lo range 4WD vehicle.

The kit consists of a Limited Slip diff, coil-over shock suspension and an American sourced two-speed transfer case.

The conversion does not interfere with the vehicle’s existing Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS).

These vehicles encompass the local government, mining, tourism and motorhome markets all of which call for very different levels of specification.

So from mine and remote community transport to grey nomads off the beaten track, these guys have made an effort to cover all bases.

SUBHEAD: In Transit

At the lighter end of the range lies the Ford Transit 4x4, this little beauty retains its 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine but gains hi-lo range 4WD using Dana 70 and 80 diff centres.

You don’t need to use too much imagination to see the Transit as an off road service vehicle or even undertaking remote area courier duties.

ANGRY COMMUTERS

The Toyota Commuter conversion is pitched more as an AWD machine, much like many SUV’s on the market these days.

AWD means that on slippery surfaces, such as mud, ice or snow, if the rear wheels break traction the front wheels kick in to help out, increasing control and road holding.

While touted as a lighter-duty version of 4x4, AWD can prove itself surprisingly capable in off road situations.

Bus 4x4 have already sold 150 of these Toyota units to rental companies such as Thrifty, while miners such as Rio Tinto have also had a look in.

TOASTING THE COAST

The Toyota Coaster conversion promises an interesting array of possibilities.

Bus 4x4 Operations Manager Steve Hargreaves showed off his own personal Coaster Motorhome, which boasts not only a 4x4 conversion but also a Cummins Powerstroke V8 conversion.

Steve quickly adds that this was a one-off toy rather than a product for the future, the rather pained look that accompanies the statement gives the indication that shoehorning the Cummins into the Toyota was no easy feat.

Bus 4x4 can organise motorhome conversions through their sister company, 4x4 Motorhomes Australia,― a quick look around Steve’s personal ride showed off a pretty impressive finish.

NEW ARRIVAL

A recent low kilometre Japanese import was also on display.

The Japanese spec Coaster gets a higher output 132kW (179hp) diesel engine and an automatic transmission.

The company is currently in the process of putting the import model through Aussie compliance.

Customers also have the option of three final drive ratios with the import models using a tall 4.88, while the standard Australian ratio is a 5.3.

Those who need to drag a trailer can opt for a 5.8 for some extra low down grunt.

Bus 4x4 can also do the Coaster in a left hand drive configuration.

HOW

The 4x4 off-road flagship for the company is the imposing Tonto 4.

This true off-roader is based on the IVECO Eurocargo truck chassis and is fitted with a 32 seat Autobus coach body.

Under the front lies a 210kW  (230hp) IVECO Tector engine that uses Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) to meet Euro 5 emissions.

Behind the engine lies an 8-speed ZF manual gearbox.

The Tonto is available in both mine and coach spec and can be stretched to accommodate a larger body.

At this stage the 4x4 is limited to a top speed of 90km/h on super single wheels, while dual wheels will bump it up to 100km/h.

We test drove the Tonto 4 so keep an eye out for a review in a future issue of ABC.

SCHOOL CRUISER

While the mud bashers of the range may capture the most attention, the two blacktop cruisers were also worth a mention.

First, the Hyundai MD9000, a 9m long, school spec 35-40 seat midi coach, which uses an Autobus body on a Hyundai chassis and engine.

The 164kW (220hp) Hyundai engine gets power to the back wheels via a 5-speed Allison automatic transmission.

Quality Bus and Coach/Autobus are the Malaysian agents for Hyundai buses where the bodies are manufactured.

SMOOTH OPERATOR

Topping off the highway range is the Autobus SD12 school bus or coach.

This Autobus uses Cummins ISLe5 power, via a 6-speed ZF automatic transmission.

This vehicle is built from the ground up in Malaysia and is available in 57-69 seat configurations.

Load through bins cater for under-floor storage and are fitted with quite unique slide-up bin doors.

A saloon style door takes care of entry and exit duties.

Wabco braking components help slow things down while the bus rides on ZF suspension and axles front and rear.

We also took the opportunity to take the SD12 for a drive in pre-compliance trim; a full write-up of the drive will also appear in ABC magazine. 

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