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The Volvo FL range starts with a 12 tonner and continues up through 15, 16 and 18 tonne models and is recognised as an extremely capable performer, with a wide take-up by many operators in the 15-18tonne sectorsRead More
The Volvo FL range starts with a 12 tonner and continues up through 15, 16 and 18 tonne models and is recognised as an extremely capable performer, with a wide take-up by many operators in the 15-18tonne sectors
The 7-litre engines come with power outputs of 240, 260 or 290 bhp, depending on the weight of the truck, with the latter specified for 18-tonne versions. It is a 7.2 litre, to be exact, straight-six SCR which produces its maximum power at 2,300rpm. Torque of 1,070 peaks between 1,200 and 1,800rpm. This is a refined unit and the turbo-charged engine is quiet in the cab but still delivers pleasingly punchy performance, making it eager in town and good out on the major trunk roads.
Volvo clearly understands that the wide duty cycle appeal of the Volvo FL 290 means that it needs a good choice of transmission systems. There are six- or nine-speed manual boxes accompanied by fully automatic systems and Volvo's acclaimed I-Sync transmission. Many of these trucks have been specified with the latter system. This I-Sync box is operated from a chunky stalk on the right of the steering wheel. It is a six-speed unit which can lift or drop a cog with a push or pull of the paddle, a simple operation that allows the driver to keep all of his concentration on the road. The system works well, both in urban situations and while cruising on the open road and those manual interventions mostly prove unnecessary. The gear ratios seem to be well sorted and the electronics mean that you very seldom feel that you are in the wrong gear.
The Volvo FL 290 benefits from the tough Swedish safety legislation and is class-leading in this area. Suspension is via all-round parabolic steel springs, assisted by shockers and anti-roll bar. The set-up absorbs the bumps pretty well and does not display any noticeable body-roll issues. The full power steering is light, with a good lock, which makes the Volvo FL 290 suitably agile and nimble in tight city-centre situations. It also manages to provide a decent amount of feel and seems well planted out on the open road, even in the presence of some challenging cross winds.
The brakes are full electronically controlled air brakes with ventilated discs all round. The usual hill-start feature is present, which only releases when there is sufficient torque being delivered to move the truck forward. The cab itself has superb visibility and instrumentation is simple and well laid out. There is lots of insulation to keep out the noise and the cab feels solid and well appointed. Overall, the Volvo FL 290 is a leading contender in the 12-tonne to 18-tonne sector.