Just over a week ago on a wet and windy evening I landed back at Stansted Airport, complete with 5 blisters and a Bratwurst in my pocket. Last Monday I spent the whole day at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hanover, well it should have been 9-5 but the German bus driver side swiped a car on the Autobahn on the way, so we were a whole 45 minutes later than planned! This therefore put me onto the Volvo stand 45 minutes after everyone else, so by the time I found it the Swedish stand was already heaving with people gathering to see the ugly but intriguing new Volvo FH. I for one sat and watched the launch of said new FH on the Internet the other week and have to say I was part of the large amount of you who think it is as ugly as the front end of a bus. But when the new Mercedes Actros arrived I was also very sceptical until I saw it in the flesh.
Having sat up high overlooking the Volvo stand for quite a while I did come to the very simple conclusion that the reason it is “ugly” is only due to the grill, the actual shape is very tidy. We are so used to the badges of trucks being on the grill, is it just the case that it’s different, that is the cause of the visual unlikenment! I’m sure you have seen the photo shopped pictures of the new FH with the Volvo badge mounted on the grill and I think it looks so much better. I think there will soon be an after market pack to change the front of your new Volvo if you so wish.
Other than the grill issue, the shape of the new Volvo on the outside is rather nice and it seems different. Amazing how designers can make a shed on wheels constantly seem so different from manufacturer to manufacturer! As for the interior, well it is rather comfy. Gone is that old FH feeling of the front of the truck closing in on you. It feels huge inside (a whole extra cubic metre of space), with big lockers above the windscreen along with a rather nice sunroof panel (actually a real escape hatch!), a swivel passenger seat, a table, the list goes on and what ever I write on here won’t really do it justice. It is a Volvo and the quality is Volvo. Designed with you in mind, its super practical but also can be super comfortable if required. My overall opinion of the New FH has been changed. I like it….a lot. Ugly or not, it’s a Volvo, it’s practical, it will earn you money and keep your drivers happy.
On with the show… The Iveco stand with it’s new crown of Truck of The Year, was amazing orange. The crazy Italians have gone a little colour crazy, but I will say zis once, the Iveco stable gets more appealing!! There you go SW I really did say it, the new Hi-Way Stralis is ok.
DAF also went with orange, but it kind of suits the new childlike, cartoon front end of the XF, only problem being is that it’s not a kids toy. The DAF XF is one of the most popular trucks in Europe but i’m afraid DAF haven’t impressed many people with the new look, I for one am not keen. Are they old Mercedes Actros headlights?! Perhaps some slightly older adolescence should be offered the sweet bag when the next update is due.
The Renault stand gave me the feeling that they were trying to divert your attention away from the fact their centre piece was a 22 year old French piece of art. Although the Magnum is still different to the rest, the fact that Renault had the most beautiful girls to attract you in, the trucks were the same as when I went to Hanover in 2010. I’m not sure how they can or will replace the Magnum, but I think a breath of fresh air is required in Renault land.
Hide it, talk it down, do what you like, what ever you do the R730 Scania is still a beautiful thing in my eyes. On show in a nearly white, silver it is still an awesome piece of kit. If you have not driven the current generation of Scania trucks, then before you slate them, take one for a drive. I still feel there is no truck with a better, more confident ride, backed up with the legendary V8, all its needs is a little something on the inside, but i’m not sure what.
The Daimler hall was so impressive it was untrue. The size of a couple of football pitches. From the small vans right up to the new Actros, buses and Unimogs, all models were available for you to get your sticky paws on.
The new Actros in all it’s guises is highly impressive and I have to say that it is still in my top 3. Lovely looking truck. They had a nice little Atego on the stand, but it has to be said that it does need it’s new cab, which will bring it in line with the new range and the new look. More to come on my thoughts of the Atego replacement.
This just leaves the MAN hall. There was tons of other stuff to tell you about at the show and I will get round to it, but I thought you’d be happy with a general sum up of all the major players. MAN, like their German rivals had a large display, with loads of trucks and lots of buses, as well as the South American Volkswagen trucks. The normal trucks on the stand were popular and each truck has a couple of MAN employees to help guide you round each truck and answer your questions. There was a big special TGS 40.540 tractor unit designed for off road heavy haul use, and I wish i’d taken a few more snaps of the chassis and springs as it was a monster.
Also, much to my delight and also my annoyance, the gorgeous little TGL 12.250 was one of the most popular trucks on the stand. For my older readers you know I love a TGL and in Germany they are super popular. This particular one is the new Euro 6 model that will be available from January 2013. A new interior along with the new look grill and bumper, will surely mean that this little Tonka continues to be a huge hit. I just wish I could buy one to join the club! …….Dear Father Christmas………
The whole show was knackering. There is so much to see, but despite the bus drivers best efforts I just about had enough time to see it all and go back and see my favourite bits a second time. Probably a good year to go too, what with the new Merc’s, the new Iveco, new look DAF and of course the completely new Volvo, it was a good day out despite the blisters. I have loads more pics, yes I do, click HERE to see them. Also I will put more stuff I saw at the show on the blog over the next few months. As well as the normal trucks, there are stands of trailers, vans, parts, etc etc etc. In 2014, treat yourself and go. You might even see a full size Lego truck!