It’s well known that Volvo has something in its FM range for almost every operator. It encompasses everything from 18-tonne rigids to 44-tonne tractors and with a wealth of cab, drive train, axle and body configurations, the choice is wide indeed. This 8×4 tipper comes with Euro 4 compliance and Volvo’s B ride suspension format, which together are a popular choice in this sector. A lot of these rigs have the sleeper-cab option but the day cab should not be sniffed at either. It looks pretty slim from front to rear but inside its clever design leads to a roomy cab, with lots of space and nooks and crannies for all the typical gear a driver is going to need.
The driving position is good too and steering wheel adjustments for rake and reach are controlled by a small pedal above the accelerator. This makes it swift and easy to achieve a great driving position. A quick look at the dash will confirm that the instruments and switchgear are shared across all Volvo platforms and this familiar layout is logical and easy to grow accustomed to for drivers. The typical Volvo quality of components also shines through. Even in fleet spec you get electric and heated mirrors, roof hatch, rubber matting and a classy smoked-finish sun visor. It all looks and feels like the quality we have come to expect from Volvo.
Outside, the rugged Volvo qualities continue. Ground clearance is increased by the use of straight beam axles, which are a good choice for rough site tracks. This means a bit of added cab height and a third, flexible step beneath the two main steel units. Twin grab handles make getting in and out all the easier. Suspension comes from parabolic steel leaf springs all round, aided by stabiliser and shockers and additional rubber cushion mountings, V stay and reaction rods to cope with the loads on the rear axles. This is all exceptionally well engineered and with an 8mm-thick chassis it looks built to last too — an ideal attribute in a used tipper.
Under the cab is a choice of 9- or 13-litre engines, both of the six-cylinder turbocharged variety. These achieve their Euro 4 rating via SCR and boast power ranges from 300hp to 480hp and torque outputs of 1,500Nm and 2,400Nm respectively. This is a quiet and refined engine in either guise and delivers its torque across a usefully flat curve. The main service brakes are assisted by a four-stage engine brake and the combination works well. The engine brake’s first position simply works alongside the cruise control to keep the speeds constant, while the next three settings progressively increase the stopping power. The steering and suspension set-up provide predictable handling, with little hint that the fully laden truck will understeer on the downhill bends.
Those engines are connected to the cogs via Volvo’s I Shift auto-select system and this can really be left to its own devices out on the road. The changes are so fast and smooth that you find yourself checking the display to reassure yourself that it really did change gear.
The Volvo FM400 Euro 4 tipper signals that Volvo is still in tune with drivers who demand quality and reliability in a handsome package and the truck makes an excellent used option.