Volvo FM 480

By: Dave Cox, Photography by: Dave Cox

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We test the newest Volvo in the FM truck range – the powerful FM 480

Volvo FM 480
Volvo FM 480
  • Easy access cab with wide opening doors
  • Refreshed dash layout with prominent engine management warning system
  • No clutch pedal for easy driving
  • Good turning circle and lock
  • Smooth and comfortable ride
  • Plenty of optional extras

The FM 480 meets the Euro 4 compliance specifications, so has the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) or, "Add Blue".

The engine is the D13A 480 mated up to Volvo’s automated gearbox, which is the A.T 2512, rated at 2500Nm torque, 12-speed, I-Shift.

The FM 480 cab looks very well proportioned sitting on the eight-wheeler chassis. Getting in and out of this unit is particularly easy, with the doors opening wide and allowing easy access to the steps. There are generous grab handles on both the left and right sides of the door opening.

Overall, the interior is clean and functional, with a mainly plastic finish that makes cleaning easy. There is plenty of storage with lockers mounted overhead. Alongside the driver is a document console.

Another enhancement is the layout of the dash. This has been tweaked from the predecessor to give a more user-friendly gauge layout. Volvo has also worked on the concept of providing a more prominent engine management warning system and installed its supplemental restraint system (SRS), i.e. the air bag. The driver’s seat also has an integrated seatbelt that rises up and down with the seat.

On the road

There is no clutch pedal in this model and that is part of the fantastic evolution of the computer. While there is still a manual clutch plate hanging on the back of the manual gearbox, all it means is the computer senses when to engage or disengage the clutch and does it for you. Very cool, but it does take a little getting used to.

The turning circle was good and appeared to have fairly good lock. The truck model has better lock due to the timing gears on the motor now being at the rear of the engine. This gives 25 percent better cooling of the engine.

By having the timing gears at the rear of the engine, the chassis rails do not have to be bowed as much to accommodate the front, which means the steerers can actually turn a fraction more, resulting in a two percent gain.

There is a switch labelled Power/Economy in the Volvo FM 480. When it is changed from Power to Economy it alerts the computer and changes the shift pattern so it will change gear at different revs and road speeds, giving either better Economy or Power ratios.

The ride is superb – very smooth and comfortable, probably attributed to the standard length chassis as opposed to the shorter length.

The I-Shift gearbox

The Volvo gearbox is referred to as the "I"-Shift, and the gear selection lever is mounted in a handy position alongside the driver’s seat.

It has an easy selection method, with "A" for automated, "M" for manual, "R" for reverse and "N" for neutral. Even in automated mode the driver can still change up or down the gears in a manual fashion if needed.

VEB Plus (Volvo engine brake) returns 30 percent better retardation than previous models and is very impressive with its hold-back capabilities. As I descended a couple of steep hills in the Volvo FM 480 I felt totally in control, even with it being loaded at 44-tonne.

The new gearbox set-up is also very relevant when you can see the gradient of a hill increasing sharply, and enables you to preselect early so as not to lose revs or too much momentum.

Optional technology

Volvo has some advanced technology that can be added when ordering the new FM 480, such as its factory built integrated phone system, automatic rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, and Lane Keeping Support along with Lane Change Support.

To read in-depth truck reviews, see the latest issue of Deals On Wheels, on sale now.

See Volvo trucks for sale here.

Specifications Volvo FM 480

Cab option Day cab
Engine D13A480 (480hp)
Torque 2400Nm
Transmission 12-speed Intelligent Shift A.T 2512
Gears Manual gear shift in Auto mode
Engine brake VEB+ (375kW/510hp approx)
Brakes Ventilated disc brakes with EBS, ABS
Clutch Single plate 430mm diameter
Front suspension Parabolic front springs
Rear suspension Eight-bag air
Rear axle ratio 2.83:1
Wheelbase 4900mm


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