Volvo 9700 Euro 6

Wholesale mechanical alterations come immediately to mind when Euro 6 vehicles are mentioned, but manufacturers are also making other changes for efficiency. Volvo has done so with the latest version of its 9700. .

[tabs]

[tab title=”Body”]

Viewed on its own, the Euro 6 9700 is almost identical to its Euro 5 sister. That perception soon changes when the two are parked side-by-side, with various differences becoming apparent. It’s the same internally, where passenger accommodation has been improved.
At Euro 6 the 9700 remains a high-end touring coach. It’s available with two or three axles, the latter in two lengths.
Volvo’s 11-litre D11K at three outputs powers the range, and for the first time a fully-automatic ZF gearbox is available at the lowest engine rating.
The UK’s first Euro 6 9700, a tri-axle, was exhibited at Coach & Bus Live last year.
Having returned to Poland in the meantime, it’s soon to begin a demonstration tour. Before it does, Volvo Bus UK MD Ian Downie made the coach available to routeone to test drive.

[/tab]

[tab title=”Build”]

The Volvo is heavy-duty, and although assembled in WrocÅ‚aw remains typically Scandinavian. Build quality is excellent, with no rattles even when travelling over rural Lincolnshire’s poorly-maintained roads.
The coach’s frontal aspect has been slightly modified to improve airflow, and the headlights are revised.
The complete front fairing lifts up, allowing access to components beneath it, including the spare wheel. The latter is standard fit, but can be omitted should the customer require.

Lift-up front gives easy access, including spare wheel
Lift-up front gives easy access, including spare wheel

At the rear equally subtle changes have been made, principal among which is the addition of a roof-mounted ‘spoiler’.
This benefits airflow and also houses the reversing camera. Volvo’s circular logo has been added to the rear of the coach.

Redesign of rear aids airflow
Redesign of rear aids airflow

The huge luggage locker doors are manually-operated. Small ski lockers over the rear bogie are present, and these are thoughtfully equipped with fold-out plastic mats, which drape over the bodyside to prevent damage when loading or unloading.
The normal steering rear axle is fitted, which has a cab-activated air dump facility for when additional traction is required.

Rear steering greatly aids manoeuvrability
Rear steering greatly aids manoeuvrability

Tough going is also mitigated against by pop-out high-pressure headlight washers.
A most useful driving aid is a fully-integrated hill-hold capability. It functions automatically, keeping the coach stationary on inclines when the driver moves his or her foot from the brake to the accelerator, allowing faultless hill starts without using the handbrake.
I-Start is an additional boon. This utilises two completely separate sets of batteries; one powers auxiliaries, the other does nothing more than crank the engine.

It prevents non-starts due to lights being left on and similar, and will no doubt pay for itself many times over the life of the vehicle.

[/tab]

[tab title=”Passenger Access”]

It’s quite a climb to the 9700’s seating area, the norm on tri-axle coaches owing to requirements for expansive below-floor luggage space.
The front suspension is equipped with a kneeling facility, which operates quickly. It lowers the initial climb by 9cm to an easily-negotiated 23cm, making the small portable steps carried by many coach drivers redundant.
A further three steps lead to the platform, all of which are a modest 20cm. One more rises to the sunken gangway; within it is a discreet cupboard where the driver can store valuables.
The largest step in the coach will be encountered by few of its passengers. This leads to the rear row of seats and is necessary to lift the floor above the engine compartment.
The offside centre door is wide and provides easy access. Unlike some other coaches the centre stairway has five steps rather than four, which makes boarding or alighting here easier. This comparatively shallow centre staircase also benefits accessibility to the toilet, which apart from the usual has a power hand-drier.
A kit is supplied to enable the top half of the toilet unit to be removed and the floor extended in its place; included is an extra pair of seats, which allows capacity to be boosted from 53 to 55 when the toilet is not required. A ‘half’ toilet door is also part of the package.
Standard emergency exits are present: five side windows and the rear pane, all equipped with hammers.

[/tab]

[tab title=”Passenger Comfort”]

It’s clear that the 9700 has been designed with passengers’ needs as a priority. The test coach is finished in a blue and grey internal combination, which works well without creating a dim feel.

Redesigned seats are comfortable
Redesigned seats are comfortable

The gangway and steps are covered in hard-wearing dark blue carpet; the areas below seats and to the top of the side-mounted radiators are light grey plastic. Above that a velvet-like blue fabric is found on the panelling.
Seats are Volvo’s own, and each pair saves almost 4kg over earlier examples.
Backs are visibly thinner than the norm, but the redesign has sacrificed nothing in comfort; in fact the opposite is perhaps true.
They are arranged theatre-style to give good forward views and have magazine nets and drop-down tables. Recline is excellent, aided by the base sliding forward slightly, and aisle seats can slide away from those by the windows.

Seatback tables and nets come as standard
Seatback tables and nets come as standard

This is useful, but when both aisle passengers on the same row take advantage it severely reduces the gangway width, from 360mm to 260mm. Seats are best only slid apart when the coach is in transit, and drivers would be well advised to ask passengers to move them back together before alighting.
A full Bosch entertainment system is provided, including DVD capability, displaying through two 485mm drop-down monitors. The coach’s inbuilt Sat-Nav system can also feed to these, allowing passengers to monitor progress.
Heating is excellent. Perimeter radiators are complemented by a roof-mounted heating and air-conditioning unit. A programmable Webasto heater is also fitted, and perhaps uniquely, convection radiators are within the bottom step at both doors.

Heater in bottom step serves a useful purpose
Heater in bottom step serves a useful purpose

If ventilation is required, three roof-mounted hatches can be raised electrically via a control in the cab. Three settings are possible: lift from the front, from the rear, or both.
The well-tinted windows have blinds and dark blue curtains. High-intensity reading lights are on the underside of the luggage racks, complemented by air vents and a stewardess call button, which sounds a loud chime.

[/tab]

[tab title=”DriverComfort”]

That the driver is looked after in a Volvo goes without saying. Notable in the Euro 6 9700 is its larger steering wheel; at 500mm, the extra 50mm diameter is noticeable. It retains an excellent feel, and Volvo has returned to its traditional pedal method of adjustment.
A high-specification Isringhausen seat is provided, with hands-free microphone. A small foot pad in front of the seat activates the mic. A conventional microphone and reading light for the courier are also present.

Cab is a pleasant place to be
Cab is a pleasant place to be

The driver’s seat is heated, and becomes pleasantly warm very quickly; this will certainly get the thumbs-up.
The seat is mounted on a swivelling base and can be rotated to the nearside. This has two benefits; it allows drivers easier access, and enables them to face boarding passengers, creating a more welcoming impression.<
The instrument binnacle is standard Volvo and has a speedometer, rev counter and several other gauges, including the customary turbo boost indicator. An LCD screen informs of a variety of data, including AdBlue level, fuel consumption – instantaneous as well as trip – and the I-Shift’s current gear.

Fridge and storage provided at front
Fridge and storage provided at front

Heating and air-conditioning comes from a variety of vents around the dash. The former is complemented by an adjustable floor-mounted convection radiator.
Other important aspects of the cab include a powered sunblind, heated and powered signalling window and knee protection for the driver in the event of a collision.
A reversing sensor is fitted, complementing the camera which feeds through an integral colour LCD monitor. This automatically activates when reverse is selected; it also provides Sat-Nav functions, which are programmed with a TV-like remote control.

[/tab]

[tab title=”Performance”]

The new 9700 has Volvo’s 11-litre D11K engine, which although smaller and lighter delivers very similar outputs to the Euro 5 13-litre unit.

Exhaust systems considerably enlarged for Euro 6
Exhaust systems considerably enlarged for Euro 6

Its 460bhp is identical to the larger engine’s rating, and at 2,200Nm, torque is only 100Nm shy of that generated by the 13-litre.
I-Shift transmission is standard fit, and Product Engineering Manger Norman Thomas says it is some years since Volvo sold a coach with a manual gearbox in the UK.
It’s not difficult to see why. Past test drives have shown the I-Shift to be what can only be described as uncannily capable, and this remains the case.
Throughout the test, which included all types of road and a number of sharp climbs both up and down, I-Shift never put a foot wrong. It really is that good.
With the aid of the exhaust brake it made a rapid upshift on an unforgiving hill south of Rockingham on the A6003 when climbing from a 30mph limit, something which wouldn’t be possible with a manual.
One small area in which I-Shift’s software would benefit from a tweak is the road speed at which it engages 12th gear. With cruise control set to 50mph it holds 11th, where a cog higher would be more appropriate.
If speed increases very slightly, or the coach overruns, 12th is selected, and this ratio is more than capable of sustaining easy 50mph running with the torque available.
Performance in general is understatedly good. Equally impressive is the manner in which the coach retains its poise and manners regardless of weather or road conditions, and when cruising, it is simply a case of pointing it in the right direction. Thanks to a capable chassis and excellent steering, that’s easily done.
Fuel figures obtained during the test were partially affected by an unplanned diversion and congestion behind a tractor. Hence, we’ve also included a figure obtained by Volvo with the same coach on routeone’s northern test route.

[/tab]
[tab title=”Verdict & Specs”]

It would be easy to write nothing more than ‘excellent’ here, but that would not do the Euro 6 9700 justice.
In the passenger cabin Volvo has seemingly thought of everything. For touring requirements the 9700 is the complete package, but at a congested end of the market it needs to be. The driver is similarly looked after, and it’s hard to imagine any among them who could pick fault.
From a mechanical aspect Volvo’s driveline is generally regarded as almost unbreakable, and the combination as tested is employed at much higher weights in trucks.
This coach will soon be available for demonstration, but is already spoken for in the long term, being scheduled for delivery to a customer during July.
Volvo will supply you with an identical one for 285,000 if you like it, and put simply, there is no reason not to.

Volvo9700Fact

[/tab]
[/tabs]