Foton is a Chinese manufacturer of light and medium duty trucks that integrates technologies from Cummins and Daimler in the construction of its vehicles.
Globally, the company sells three trucks and all have a cab over engine configuration with the Aumark occupying the middle position in the weight class. The truck has a versatile character and is available with a wide range of body options, being suitable for a various commercial applications.
The truck is powered by a range of Cummins engines which develop between 108 and 180 hp and is available in four versions with GVW (gross vehicle weights) of up to 14660 kg.
Compared to other Chinese trucks in its class, the Aumark looks surprisingly good as the company’s designers have managed to come up with a pretty modern design. The Aumark keeps all the attributes of a cab-over model with a rectangular cab and a massive windshield, but it received a gargantuan front grille which gives it a unique front fascia. Despite its unconventional dimensions, the black grille looks catchy and we also like how the company fitted its logo in the center.
In order to give the truck a better balance at high speeds and also to reduce wind noise, the front features two side air deflectors, which are combined with a rounded bumper to give the Aumark a touch of dynamism.
As most trucks from today’s roads, the main headlights are placed low and come with clear lenses and a rectangular design which looks pretty dull.
While the exterior design could be considered very close to the Japanese rivals, the cabin proved to be a big disappointment. The materials and plastics are light years behind the European LCVs, while the design is also highly rudimentary with a pretty poor ergonomy and built quality. Though, we’ll have to give credit to Foton as has equipped the cab with convenient power windows which can be easy to operate using the well placed door mounted controls.
The central console is equipped with a standard am/fm radio with CD player and also features a host of buttons which help you control diverse functions of the vehicle. As it was expected, the instrument cluster is part of the third class and has an ancient design that looks like it came back from time. Though, it looks better during night, as the gauges glare in a nice icy blue light which makes them clear and easy to read.
We also like the feel of the adjustable steering wheel, which despite its dated look, feels fairly good to hold and together with the well placed gear knob permits you to drive the truck pretty easy. The hand brake lever however, is place awkward and you’ll some time until you’ll get used to it.
As most vehicles in this segment, the seats are pretty rudimentary, so don’t expect to any comfortable back support. They are also too flat for our tastes and despite their adjustments; it will be hard to find a proper driving position.
While the seats were far from being our favorite feature found inside, we continue to be impressed by the top notch all round visibility offered by these type of vehicles. Besides the massive windscreen you’re also treated with thin A pillars and big lateral windows. Not to mention about the external mirrors which are mounted on the cab and keep you well informed about what’s going on behind you.
As it was expected, the storage department is pretty well represented and you’ll get a spacious glove box, small door pockets and a few cubby holes mounted in the center console. Moreover, there is also offered a handy workstation with two cup holders, fitted in the backrest of the middle passenger seat.
Engines and transmissions
The Foton Aumark is powered by a range of capable Cummins ISF intercooled turbo engines which were especially developed for light commercial vehicle purposes. The engines respect the Euro III emission norms and develop between 108 and 180 hp.
To be able to offer a better fuel economy and less emission the four cylinder diesel engines are combined with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology. SCR works by injecting a very precise amount of an automotive grade urea (AD Blue) solution into the vehicle’s hot exhaust stream.
The engines have a flat torque curve which makes them perfectly suited for the utilitarian nature of the truck. Depending on the model, the engines are matted on either five or six speed synchromesh transmissions. The transmissions are pretty easy to use and you won’t have major complains about them as are at par with what you’ll usually find in this segment.
Foton Aumark Engines Specifications
|Cummins ISF||180@2600||618 @ 1400|
|Cummins ISF||140 @ 2600||430 @ 1200-1700|
|Cummins ISF||135 @2600||445 @1400-1600|
|Cummins ISF||108@2600||310 @1600-1400|
Ride and handling
The truck’s multi leaf spring suspensions are pretty good and the shock absorbers are also able to offer a pretty pleasant ride for a commercial vehicle. The steering is of the mechanical circular ball type with power assist and isn’t something to rave about, as it can’t be compared with the Japanese units.
On the other hand, the truck features a very capable full air braking system, with discs at the front, drums at the back and ABS. For a better stopping power there is also available an engine exhaust brake which will come in handy when you’ll need to deal with downhill sections as its spares the life of the service brakes.
Foton has managed to come up with a pretty good product that despite its relatively cheap price is able to tackle the heaviest jobs without whining. Its exterior design is pretty modern too and the Cummins engines have already proven their value in other trucks all around the world. The stopping power is also surprisingly good for a Chinese truck, while the ride and handling are at par with what you’ll usually find in this segment.
On the other hand, the cabin should’ve received more attention, as the comfort isn’t exactly first class. However, we like that Foton added a few common sense features such as power windows, standard air conditioning and radio CD which will make your life on board easier.