New for 2015, Volvo introduced its H Series wheeled loader.
At 14,420kg is has got some tough shoes to fill as its predecessor, the G Series, proved a popular choice among contractors for clamp work, particularly in Ireland.
Sitting between the smaller L60H and larger L90H models, it is fair to say it is a striking looking machine, especially the bonnet with its Stenna Line-style funnel.
The main differences between the L70H ag machine and a construction machine is essentially ag-spec tyres. So is that enough of a difference for agriculture, and how will it compare to its contemporaries?
To find out how the latest crop of large wheeled loaders compare, Farmers Guardian teamed up with the Irish Farmers Journaland pitted four monster movers against each other. Find out more...
Inside the L70H, the first thing which hits you is the very smart fit and finish of the cab. Fire up the ignition and an automotive style dash greats you with a combination of analogue dials and LCD screen. As well as looking the best of the bunch, the dash is clear and intuitive to use, enabling you to view machine performance figures and adjust things such as transmission disengagement aggression.
Space is plentiful in-cab and its light colours give an airy feel. Cab layout is good with all controls and switches falling to hand.
Our test machine came with lever controls rather than joystick control. While it is very different to use, requiring less wrist action and more finger twiddling, you do get used to it. Also, alongside the levers is a switch for direction changes which can easily be operated by your little finger. If you prefer, you can still make direction changes via the left hand shuttle lever. A joystick is an option for loader control as is lever control of steering.
It is also the only one with double brake pedals, one for your left foot and one for the right - keeps all driver styles happy.
While the visibility over the top of the bonnet is severely hampered by the ferry-esc exhaust pipe, it is not really over the bonnet you look when buckraking, but rather down the sides of the bonnet to the corners. And thanks to a fairly slim figure, views to the corners of the machine are good.
To help with views to the rear, the cab does incorporate a monitor linked to a rear camera. The monitor is mounted quite high though and would be good if it was mounted on a vertical sliding rail so it could be placed in a position of the driver’s choice.
From its predecessor, low down visibility in the cab has been improved, helping with views to the surrounding work area.
The park brake is applied with a switch, confusingly the same type of switch which controls the headstock hydraulic locking mechanism, which we mistook with the park brake on more than one occasion. Either some clearer differentiation between the two or a two-handed operation to unlock the pins might be safer.
Similar to the New Holland, the Volvo also has an electric opening bonnet. While it does create a sense of anticipation as it slowly opens, it does seem a bit gimmicky. That said, looking at the size of the bonnet it may actually be necessary to lift the hefty panel work.
There is also the question of; how do you get to the engine in the event of a complete electrical failure? The answer is to remove the left hand mudguard, a panel then the electric ram.
To try and promote economical driving, Volvo has engineered a push back mechanism in the accelerator pedal, known as Eco pedal, which you can feel as you press it. When you feel the ‘notch’, this is the machine’s most economical and efficient rev window. However, as soon as you get on the clamp, that idea goes out the window and you soon push past the notch and give it the beans.
Conveniently, the battery isolator, automatic lubrication system and sight glass for transmission are all located near the left hand steps. All other daily checks can be made from ground level with all engine inspections made from the left hand side. There is also a handy service chart on the side of the cab – saves digging out the manual.
Designed to extend component life by reducing pressure, every component which contains oil has a ‘breather’ fitted to it.
Unlike the other three manufacturers which rely on outsourced components, the Volvo’s entire power train is its own, giving the advantage of commonality of parts between models thus reducing replacement costs, says the manufacturer.
Brake-wise, the Volvo gets outboard, wet disc brakes on the front and rear axles which are easier to service compared to inboard type, not needing the whole axle to be removed, and they can be easily checked for wear, says the manufacturer.
Depending on spec, both axles can feature open differentials with the ability to fully lock the front diff via a pedal in the cab. There is also the option of a limited slip diff on the rear axle.
While the Volvo was not the fastest at climbing the clamp, especially compared to the JCB, it does take plenty of material with it when it does climb. However, on the flat for yard work, for example, it would be our machine of choice. This was clearly demonstrated by our cylcle time test where the Volvo turned out to be the most efficient and easiest to drive with light as a feather steering.
Upfront, a redesigned headstock features replaceable upper hook pins, saving having to weld on replaceable pins, and the auto lubrication now works with the locking pins. Auto lube is pretty standard, but you can de-spec it if you really like to use a grease gun.
For comfort, particularly at high speed, boom suspension can be turned on manually or put into automatic. In auto mode you can select whether the suspension is activated based on speed or gear.
Achieved road speed was about 42kph, during which it felt very composed and stable.
Similar to the New Holland and JCB, if more hydraulic performance is required, a mode can be selected whereby the brake pedal is used to disengage drive. That said, without this mode selected, hydraulic performance is still plentiful.
In common with the JCB, a good design touch to help with durability is the high-mounted steering rams, keeping them out of the mud and dirt.