Anyone feeling slightly underwhelmed by the external changes to the new Volvo FH, launched virtually earlier this year and witnessed by Diesel News European Correspondent, Will Shiers, should be slightly happier with the new Volvo’s inside story. The Swedish truck maker hasn’t gone overboard, but it is a considerable improvement over its predecessor.
But the big winners here are the FM and FMX, which now both feature modified versions of the FH interior. Digital screens are the icing on the cake.
The FM cab isn’t only kitted-out to a high level, but it’s one cubic metre larger too. While the engine hump has grown very slightly, it isn’t obtrusive, and in fact the cab feels considerably more spacious than its predecessor. This is presumably a consequence of losing the old raked windscreen, which ate into the interior space. Storage has been enhanced, to the tune of an additional 340 litres of space in the FM/FMX.
To access the cup-holders in the centre of the current FH dashboard, you need to pull them out. Do this with too much enthusiasm, and it has a tendency to break off in your hands. Volvo has addressed this by making them permanently open. On the downside, this does eat into your living space, but the upside is that they can be reached from the lower bunk.
If the dashboard looks familiar, that’s because it’s basically the same one that features in the current FH and FH16. There have been a few changes though, and the quality of the plastics has improved. While it’s slightly enhanced the FH/FH16, it represents a massive improvement for the FM/FMX.
Directly in front of the driver in all four models, is a new 30.5cm digital display, which can be configured in one of four different ways. Meanwhile, a 23cm touchscreen, which is standard on FM, FH and FH16 in Australia, provides infotainment and navigation information, and camera monitoring. In addition to controlling it by touch, the screen can be operated by voice control or via buttons on the steering wheel.
The gear lever, which is still located beside the driver’s seat, has been redesigned. Volvo says its smaller dimensions will make it easier to walk around the cab, but I can’t see that it will make any difference. The economy, standard and performance modes are all accessed by pressing the mode button.
I-Shift is also still available as dash-mounted push buttons, but this set-up only has an economy mode. The multifunction steering wheel gets neck tilt, a function previously only seen in FH/FH16.
European-spec FMs get a ‘vivid plum’ interior, which won’t be to everyone’s taste. Personally, I quite like it, but that’s mainly because it reminds me of sitting on my nan’s settee in the 1970s while stuffing my face with Jammie Dodgers.
Instead, Australian spec FMs and FMXs get more robust seats, with vinyl edging. The FH seats are finished in blue, and look considerably more sophisticated. Meanwhile, it’s out with yellow, and in with the orange (coral), for the FH16, which once again gets its own distinctive trim. I can certainly think of worse places to self-isolate!
The new Volvo range was originally set to be launched in Australia towards the back end of this year, but the COVID-19 global pandemic has pushed the launch into 2021, when the Australian truck buyer can have a look at the new Volvo’s inside story.