The new FH is, naturally, wrapped in Stobart’s familiar red, white and green livery and replaces Dixon’s older FH, keeping the name of his daughter Phoebe Grace.
Running the Euro-6 Volvo across a wide spectrum of its operations is all part of Stobart’s preparations for the introduction of Euro-6 from 1 January 2014 – and the FH joins a mixture of 20 Euro-6 Mercedes-Benz and Scania units that are being put through their paces on the fleet.
David Cox, MD – Stobart fleet division, told CM: “We want to see how they compare with each other before we roll them out. It is at a really early stage and we want to give them a proper run – and that means we want to run them right across the network.”
He said the trial has got to be a “real life test” for a truck working across Stobart’s variety of operations. That means the Euro-6 units will pull a combination of heavy and light loads, on regular size and high trailers, and “by Christmas they will have a lot of miles under their belts” .
As a result, it is no coincidence that Dixon will be behind the wheels of the Euro-6 new FH. “Mark does a good mix of work, and his previous truck was a Volvo,” said Cox. “I did hand the keys to Mark on this one, although I don’t give them to all of our drivers. He didn’t know what he was going to be getting and our drivers get quite attached to their trucks.”
Mark Dixon: ‘I love it!’
“I absolutely love it,” exclaimed Dixon. He said the cab is far more spacious than the older FH he had been driving for the past three years. “And it’s so much better to drive,” he added.
He praised the accurate steering, whisper quiet 460hp engine, large bunk, new cruise control and the multi-function steering wheel.
“And the stereo is excellent. It’s so advanced and I can access everything on my phone through the steering wheel,” he said. “Even the large grille has grown on me.”
Dixon didn’t get an official hand-over by Volvo, and consequently he has picked up a lot of the additional functions on the hoof. One example of this was the new electronic handbrake. “I wasn’t so sure about it to start with but now I love it.”
His only minor complaint with the truck is the fact that the sunroof has been replaced with an escape hatch. “It doesn’t open. Or if it can be opened, I’m yet to work which button does it. There’s probably a lot on this truck that I haven’t discovered yet,” he said.
Although Dixon doesn’t know what mpg it is returning, his gut instinct is that it’s an improvement on the old FH. Dixon described it as “one of the best trucks that I’ve ever driven”.