The Volvo FM was developed for regional transports and it was completely redesigned in 2010 when it received a few exterior changes, a fresh engine lineup and a host of new interior features. Over the years Volvo has managed to gain a good reputation thanks to its reliability and the strong build quality, but the new FM moves this heritage even further with a lot of useful improvements and good fuel efficiency.
The FM is offer six cab models naming the Day Cab, Sleeper Cab, Low Sleeper Cab, Globetrotter, Globetrotter LXL and Fire engine Crew Cab. The truck’s versatility is also represented by the wide range of axle configurations - 4x2, 6x2, 6x4, 4x4, 6x6, 8x2, 8x4 – available for both rigid and tractor versions.
After the 2010 facelift, the new FM looks even better than the FH model which is the biggest truck built by the Scandinavian manufacturer. The front grille is dominated by Volvo’s diagonal strip and also features a chromed bar on top, while the lower grille is split in two sections and has a vague “V” shape pattern.
The sharp light clusters look like they were borrowed from the FH models and are also split in two sections. Viewed from the side, the FM features a raked screen which is unique in its segment and gives the truck a dynamic stance.
As we’ve expected, Volvo’s build quality found inside the cabin is among the best in the segment and can be rivaled only by models from Scania or Mercedes. Similar with most of the trucks in the segment, the FM’s dashboard features a wrap round design which gives the driver easy access to the switchgears. Luckily the dash isn’t cluttered with controls and all the switches and buttons have an intuitive layout.
The instrument cluster features a modern design with red indicators which are easy to read and have minimum reflections. Besides the classical round gauges, the instrument cluster is also fitted with a central display that presents useful information at the driver’s request. To enhance the cabin’s functionality, Volvo added in the centre of the dashboard 12 V and 24 V sockets as well as AUX and USB connectors for the audio system.
You won’t have any big complains about the seats either, as they offer a satisfactory comfort and have a wide range of adjustments which permit you to find a proper driving position. Moreover the driver seats are also available with optional body weight adjustments, electric heating, ventilation and backrest cushions.
The energy-absorbing steering wheel folds out of the way to permit more convenient entry. Height and angle can be adjusted pretty easy using the foot-pedal. The steering wheel is also available with optional integrated controls for the audio system and mobile phone.
As any respectable truck, the FM offers plenty of storage places to make your life behind the wheel easier. The day cab features two large storage compartments with hatches and four DIN compartments above windscreen. Moreover there are also storages behind both passenger and driver seat which can be accessed from the outside. The Sleeper and Globetrotter cabs feature a host of storage spaces located under the bunk and a few cup holders and cubby holes into the dash.
For overnight accommodation the Sleeper cab is fitted with a standard sleeping bunk for one person measuring 700x2000x125/160 mm. The Globetrotter cab features sleeping bunks for two people, one at the bottom measuring 700x2000x125/160 mm and another one suspended with 600x1900x100 mm dimensions. For enhanced comfort the upper bunk is also available in 700x1900x100 mm dimensions.
Engines and transmissions
The Volvo FM is available with a choice of three engines, the D11C, the D13B and the D13C. All are using four valves per cylinder and controlled unit injectors. Thanks to the SCR technology most of the engines meet the Euro 5 emission norms and some of them are also available in EEV versions.
The Euro 5 D11C six cylinder engine has a 10.8 litre capacity and offers maximum outputs ranging from 330 – 450 hp. The D13B is a 12.8 litre, straight six cylinder diesel engine that features a turbocharger and an intercooler. This engine develops between 360 - 440 hp and is Euro 4 compliant. The most powerful unit is the D13C 12.8 litre, straight six-cylinder engine which also features a turbocharger and an intercooler. The engine meets the Euro 5 emission standards and is available with a range of outputs between 380 - 500 hp.
The engines can be combined with several 9 or 14-speed manual gearboxes. The FM is also available with the I-Shift 12-speed automated gearbox which is among the best from today’s market. The I-Shift offers a better fuel consumption and doesn’t require any manual interventions thus making the driver’s job easier. The I-Shift is also quieter than the manual gearbox and weights approximately 70 kg less.
The gearbox range is completed by the Powertronic unit designed for distribution duties. The Powertronic is a 6-speed automatic planetary transmission which features two operating modes and manual gear changing.
Ride and suspensions
The Volvo FM is available with a wide range of wheelbase and suspension configurations. The chassis layout is modular, and it’s the same for both tractor and rigid models. The truck suspension includes air suspension, leaf springs, conventional or parabolic configurations.
Volvo’s Electronic Controlled air Suspension (ECS) with four bellows per axle gives parallel lift keeping the truck at a constant ride height. The system is also available with the manual height-control system which permits you to easy adjust the cargo platform height to match the height of the loading bay.
The steering is faultless as the steered pusher and tag axles feature electro hydraulic steering, which offers a more precise maneuverability than a conventional system.
The truck speed is kept in check by a capable engine brake or by Volvo’s Electronically controlled Brake System (EBS) with all round discs and ESP. Among the numerous safety systems there are also the LCS and Adaptive Cruise Control. The Lane Changing Support (LCS) checks the sides of the truck to see if there are other vehicles in the blind spot when the driver intends to change lanes, while the Adaptive Cruise control maintains a safe distance from the vehicles in front of you.
The Volvo FM shines among the other trucks in its segment, as it is one of the best products available on today’s market. Its build quality is top notch and its suspensions and chassis can deal with huge payloads without problems. The engine range is also among the widest in the segment, and even if you could find better accelerations at Scania’s trucks, this doesn’t mean that Volvo’s units are less efficient or unreliable.
Video: Volvo FM