The Volvo FH16, Volvo’s new truck for heavy long-haul operations, has been tested in the toughest of all environments: Australia. Over a period of two days, it was put through its paces by journalists Brian Weatherley and Steve Brooks, both of whom have many years of experience in the transport industry.
Australia's operating conditions are demanding in many ways: the distances are vast, the roads are challenging, the speed limits are high and the payloads are heavy. The long distances mean that Australian drivers average five nights a week in their trucks, which imposes high demands on in-cab working conditions and after-work comfort.
Comprehensive tests of the new FH series were carried out in Australia from the earliest development phase. Now however it was time for two highly experienced motoring journalists to see how the new truck measures up on Australian roads. The test vehicle was a 700 hp FH16 fitted with a Globetrotter XL cab.
The first thing to be tested was the space inside the new cab. Brian Weatherley and Steve Brooks prepared for their two-day trip by packing the truck with essential supplies, including lots of water, food and overnight clothing.
"There's no lack of storage capacity. Since the cab's A-pillars are now more upright, there is increased storage space and the cab now offers 1 cubic metre greater interior volume - and you can really feel the difference when you move about inside," says Brian Weatherley.
Tough operating conditions and heavy loads
The journey went from Brisbane to Toowoomba via the mountainous Cunningham Gap and threw in some truly tough driving on the route.
"It was exciting and most definitely a challenge. The roads and the speeds in this area are very different to anything I've encountered elsewhere so my driving skills were truly put to the test," says Brian Weatherley.
"My foremost impression behind the wheel of the new Volvo FH16 is just how easy and light it is to manoeuvre. It responds immediately and maintains its directional stability so you don't have to keep making minor adjustments with the steering wheel," continues Brian Weatherley.
After spending the night in the cab at Toowoomba it was time for the two drivers to hook up the well-known Australian B-triple rig. This means that three trailers are attached to the truck. This creates a 36 metre long road train weighing 84 tonnes. Now it was time for Steve Brooks to enjoy a spell behind the wheel.
"I think the new Volvo FH16 has excellent roadholding but what impresses me most of all is how well both the engine and the I-Shift transmission perform. Even though we were hauling more than 80 tonnes, it all felt really light at the controls," he says.
The entire test was filmed from start to finish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krQEinPk1ds.
August 19, 2013
British transport journalist, who founded the Big Lorry Blog. He was previously editor-in-chief of British transport publications Commercial Motor and Truck & Driver and is the former UK jury member for the International Truck of the Year competition.
Editor in chief of Diesel Magazine, which he founded. Has worked in the transport industry all his life, both as a driver and journalist.
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