NEW MODEL LINES INEVITABLY DON’T HAVE THEIR FULL RANGE AVAILABLE AT LAUNCH; THE SPECIALIST CHASSIS FOLLOW ON AFTER THE BUNTING HAS BEEN SWEPT UP. EXPERIENCE TELLS US THAT’S WHERE SOME OF THE MORE INTERESTING VERSIONS ARE OFTEN FOUND. VOLVO’S FH16-750 8X4 TRIDEM TRACTOR, IS CERTAINLY SUCH A BEAST. IAN NORWELL REPORTS FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT OF THE FIRST SPECIMEN TO ARRIVE IN THE UK.
Putting a heavy haulage press demonstrator on the road, with a suitable trailer and load, together with a meaningful test route has to be a pragmatic exercise. To go to a vehicles’s full Category 1 capacity means organising a raft of permissions and escorts. Running this FH at 65 tonnes and a Cat 3, is obviously well within its capabilities, but it’s still a very useful test of ability. At the FH launch in late 2012, we drove an FH-16 700 (those extra 50 horses were still in the barn) at 60 tonnes, as a 25.25m drawbar combination, where it performed well.
It’s worth noting that Sweden consistently tops the GCW tables in Europe, so it’s a reasonable conclusion that their higher horsepower chassis are used to continuous operation at these high weights. For the record, the Swedes are in the process of raising them again, from 60 to 64 tonnes. Our UK route with the FH-16 750, created by Volvo’s test engineers, is worth a swift résumé. Volvo Trucks Warwick HQ issues out onto the A46. From the M40 junction we headed south west on the A429 through Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the-Wold, then down to Cirencester where we picked up the A417, going down the Birdlip descent, and on to the M5 at junction 11a. North on the M5 for a short hop, and then off at junction 9, running all the way home to Warwick, via Evesham on the A46. So, a day out in the Cotswolds? It was, but the variety of roads were well chosen to give the full range of A road variations, with some challenging topography.