Giti Tyres Big Test - The Traffords Test
When career truckdriver Nigel Heke first heard about a dual clutch version of Volvo's slick I-Shift automated manual transmission he was dubious.
Never mind what Volvo said about it being faster, smoother, safer, more fuel efficient…he seriously wondered how the hell it was going to be an improvement on the existing I-Shift – already, he reckons, a "pretty good" gearbox.
But then Mount Maunganui-based McFall Fuel – where Nigel combines driving duties with driver training and assessment – bought New Zealand's first new FM13 540 with an I-Shift Dual Clutch installed….
And asked him to deliver it to Palmerston North. To say he was impressed doesn't quite cut it: "It was awesome! I had a driver with me, and I said to him 'did you notice any of the changes?' He goes: 'What changes?'
"I said: 'Exactly! It's gone through every gear and you didn't notice a thing.' He goes: 'Holy shit!' "
Pirelli Trevor Test
I've driven Volvo's I-Shift Dual Clutch before – on its demonstrator – and was impressed with its quick and effortless shifting and the feeling of continuous power as you pull uphill loaded. Now it's time to experience it in a real-life working environment.
McFall Fuel's logistics manager Scott Jeanes offers us the option of a range of runs with its newest Volvo FM 540 – and the one from its Mt Maunganui base to Gisborne ticks the boxes for a great test route for the Dual Clutch technology.
The FM truck and trailer unit will be loaded to 50 tonnes and there'll be plenty of gearshifting through the long, winding Waioeka Gorge, then a good hard pull up Traffords Hill.