Cover story: Foton Aumark BJ1051

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle, Video by: Justin Bennett


The Aumark BJ1051 is an entry-level model that’s nippy, easy to manoeuvre, and with a huge carrying capacity, it could perhaps replace a single-cab ute

Under normal circumstances when carrying out a truck test, one has to use a fair bit of imagination as to how the vehicle might perform with a load on its back, however, on this occasion, the guys at Foton New Zealand in Hamilton had already prepared a load for us.

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It turned out that for this particular test we had two loads instead of one, with both loads being presented in two entirely different configurations.

Upon our arrival at Foton HQ in Hamilton, the truck was already loaded with a one cubic metre (1000-litre) tote filled with water, giving the truck a load of a tad over a tonne, including the tare weight of the tote.

After a brief handover given by Foton New Zealand’s truck sales manager, Bevan Dale, it was time to take to the streets to see how the truck performed with what equated to around a third of its potential carrying capacity tied securely on the deck.

Test

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Lyndsay Whittle liked his drive in the Foton

The test truck in the drop-side, flat deck configuration had a tare weight of 2420kg and with around a tonne on its tray, weighed-in at approximately 3.5 tonnes all up, so it was fair to say the morning’s workout it was about to be given around the streets of Hamilton would be reasonably representative of what might be expected of it in a working environment.

Someone had also organised the pick-up and delivery of 8x90kg railway sleepers that needed to be collected from one side of town and delivered to the other, adding yet another level of ‘real time’ to the events of the day.

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Easy-to-clean mats

Section one of the delivery involved a 15-minute drive from Hamilton central out to the suburb of Dinsdale in which there were a series of stops and starts at traffic lights, providing plenty of opportunities to go through the gears and test the stability of the truck with a 1000 litres of water sloshing around in an unballasted cube as its load. The Foton passed these tests with flying colours, although, it took me a few minutes to become accustomed to the gate for the gear selections.

However, I had to take on board the fact that it also took me a while to get used to the European-style configuration of the stalks that control the wipers, indicators, and lights.

These minute idiosyncrasies nevertheless were soon overcome once the old muscle memory kicked in.

Power train

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Turbocharged 2.8L ISF Cummins engine

The truck’s quiet, turbocharged 2.8-litre ISF Cummins engine was light on its feet and pulled up a couple of short, steep hills, hardly noticing the fact that to add to the load it was carrying, we had the air conditioning going full bore on a cold Waikato morning.
When it came to stopping on the downhill slope, the front disc, rear drum, ABS braking system did its job well indeed without the need to employ the exhaust brake.

While on the subject of the exhaust brake, it took me some time to discover that it was actuated by pulling the right-hand stalk upwards; maybe I’m a slow learner.

The Foton’s five-speed ZF 5S400 gearbox was well-matched to the Cummins powerplant and provided enough gears to go around in all the situations encountered during the test drive.

As we didn’t get to travel on any segments of motorway, there didn’t seem to be any need to get into fifth gear; in fact, third gear felt like a good fit for around town driving with the tacho sitting on 2200rpm at 50km/h, thus minimising the requirement to shift gears needlessly.

Real-time delivery

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In order to carry out the delivery of railway sleepers that had been arranged for us, we had to unload the 1000-litre tote, not because the truck would’ve been overloaded with it and the sleepers aboard but simply because we only had a stock of four ratchet tie-downs.
Although not standard issue, our test truck was fitted with eight certified tie-down hooks (four per side of the tray), which made securing our load fast and easy.

As each sleeper weighed approximately 90kg each, all of which had to be hand unloaded at the other end, the load ideally needed to be placed to one side of the deck, giving rise to the expectation that it might have caused the truck to lean to one side, which it didn’t.

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Certified tie-down points

The eight-sleeper load added up to around a quarter of the truck’s total carrying capacity but it made absolutely no difference to the Foton’s performance or handling despite the previously-mentioned offset of the load.

I made every effort to find as many potholes and manhole covers to drive over as I possibly could along the route, but nothing I could find fazed the Foton’s suspension one iota – another test box successfully ticked.

Entry-level model

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Washable seat covers

Having unloaded our delivery, it was back to Complete Landscape’s yard in Dinsdale to collect the tote and do another photo shoot before making the trip back into town to deliver the truck back to Foton NZ’s office.

Harking back to Bevan’s handover at the beginning of the test, he introduced the BJ1051 as being the "entry-level" truck of the Foton range, so I expected to be driving around in a fairly basic truck. What a surprise I was in for!

This one was presented with a few features, such as fitted floor and seat coverings, and certified tie-down hooks. However, power windows, with an express downward function on the driver’s window, fob-operated central locking, a Bluetooth stereo, and hands-free kit, can be added as affordable optional extras.

The range includes three models with four GVM options: 5650kg, 5995kg, 6500kg, and 8995kg. Other features that aren’t considered to be ‘comfort’ items but are worthy of consideration are the standard-issue alloy fuel tank and the provision to fit a PTO to the gearbox.

The Aumark BJ1050 is fitted with Bosch electronics and ZF transmission, connected to the Euro 5 compliant ISF Cummins turbo diesel engine, all backed by a three-year/160,000km warranty.

The manufacturer’s rating states that the Aumark BJ1051, which is the smallest in the Foton Aumark C range, has a gross vehicle mass rating of 5650kg, which allows it to be driven on New Zealand roads on a car licence.

However, if a driver wants to extend the BJ1051’s capabilities to its gross combined mass of 9150kg by hitching a trailer to the tow bar, they would need be the holder of a Class 2 licence.

Verdict

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The team at Complete Landscape Supplies in Hamilton load up a delivery

In a nutshell, I’d have to say that I’d have no hesitation in loading my own 1.8-tonne digger, along with its three buckets and a couple of augers on the back, or perhaps, put the digger on a tandem trailer behind the truck and still have enough carrying capacity to place the attachments on the back of the truck.

The little Aumark BJ1051 is definitely nippy and manoeuvrable enough to use in place of a single cab ute, at the same time as having a much greater carrying capacity, even for those who only have a Class 1 licence. 

Foton Aumark BJ1051 specifications

Engine Cummins ISF 2.8L diesel
Turbocharger With intercooler
Rated power 110kW at 2900rpm
Rated torque 360Nm between 1500 and 2900 rpm
Emission standard Euro 5
Emission control AdBlue
Transmission 5-speed ZF 5S400
Minimum turning circle 12m 
Electrical 12v 
Brakes front/rear Hydraulic disc/drum with ABS 

Pluses

  • Stability excellent
  • Powerful yet quiet engine
  • Smooth suspension
  • Well-priced at $30,990 plus GST and on-road costs
  • Great visibility without being overloaded with mirrors
  • Alloy fuel tank a standard feature
  • Easy provision to fit a PTO

Minuses

  • Gearshift, particularly when selecting first gear could have been tighter for my liking.

Watch the Foton Aumark BJ1051 in action

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