eVoTor Evolution

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There have been some minor tweaks to the styling along with the change of chassis to the B8R. ADRIAN MORTON

Adrian Morton casts his expert eye over the new Volvo B8R MCV eVoTor and gives an operator’s perspective of the marque’s new mid-range coach offering

Five years after the MCV eVoTor took to the roads in the UK on Volvo’s B11R chassis, the first four with revised frontal styling and built on the Volvo B8R are now starting to hit the streets. Volvo took the decision to change production to the B8R chassis, so it is no longer an option in the UK for the body to be specified on the B11R.

The eVoTor, although not yet sold in huge quantities, has become a familiar sight on the country’s roads, more obvious probably due to its distinctive frontal styling which is not in any way similar to comparable products on the market. The body consists of a stainless steel frame with panels a mix of stainless steel and GRP mouldings. The revised styling is not significantly different to that offered on the B11R; in fact, you’d probably be hard pressed to notice the difference. In essence it’s just a little flatter with headlights less defined. I’m unsure of the reasoning but it will certainly aid cleaning, particularly by drive-through washes.

Continuing with the frontal theme, the windscreen is a laminated one piece bonded unit with the rest of the front-end structure below comprising five separate panels, which makes repairing any collision damage easier and far more cost effective. Mirrors are the popular electrically controlled and heated Mekra units which are robust, offer good all-round vision, are easily obtainable and won’t break the bank as do so many of the alternatives.

Moving around to the nearside, the front door is a common single-piece plug type leading to the entrance. A 48-litre AdBlue tank is located immediately ahead of the nearside front wheels, which is a common position when compared to other manufactures; the only downside is the necessity that the front passenger door has to be closed in order to access the filler, but that’s no real detriment.

Located above the front wheel, the coach has the added benefit of having a fuel filler on both sides for added convenience. Tank volume is a respectable 480 litres and Volvo’s now standard push fillers make the process easy, with no awkward caps to contend with. Behind this we have two manually operated cantilever doors for the lockers. As a former operator I’ve always favoured both of these options. Parallel-opening lockers are easier to use in confined spaces and are far less likely to be torn off, and electrically operated ones are just more to go wrong.


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Additionally, from my perspective, they are also prone to damage by a driver accidentally pressing the release button or failing to first look for any obstructions. What was apparent though was the weight of doors. They were in no way flimsy; instead there was a real feel of quality, very similar to that of a well-respected Belgian manufacturer. Luggage capacity without the wheelchair lift is approximately nine cubic metres.


Just behind the nearside front wheels and incorporated in the front most locker is the wheelchair lift, which along with the destination displays ensures the vehicle’s PSVAR compliance. The wheelchair lift request button is housed on the outside of the first locker door. The wheelchair entrance door is a manually operated hinged affair, as is the flap in the locker door that permits the lift to come in and out of the locker.

From an aesthetic perspective, I think this small panel could be hinged differently for a more attractive appearance but it does the job it was designed to do. The lift is by respected manufacturer PLS with the controls situated in the rearmost of the two central lockers. The way in which the wiring joins the two could be better; the silver trunking on the locker floor is not attractive. The controls are situated in a different locker for accessibility in the event of failure of the lift, which would prevent the first main locker door being opened. All together it is very functional.

The first customer coach was delivered to Scottish operator Kevin’s Coaches, and was displayed at the UK Coach Rally in Blackpool. JONATHAN WELCH

Rear aspect

As we move around to the rear it is difficult to notice any styling changes from its B11R counterpart, the only real difference being the addition of a small panel on each side above the tail lights which effectively makes the engine door slightly smaller. This is again beneficial when it comes to reducing cost and effecting a far quicker repair in the event of rear corner damage.

Immediately behind the rear offside wheels is a fairly sizeable locker which is perfect for keeping spare fluids such as oils and water, tools and cleaning equipment, and is something which many of the coach’s competitors now lack either due to the constraints of the engine or in an attempt to reduce weight and cost. Another panel which joins the offside rear corner gives access to the engine bay from the side.

Immediately forward of the rear wheels is the centre continental and emergency exit; it is nothing extravagant, again being a manually operated and hinged door. From an operator’s perspective, this would be my preferred choice for the same reasons as I outlined with power operated lockers. A positive safety feature is that it incorporates an automatic locking device activated at 3kmh.

Ahead of this is a large parallel lift door allowing access to the luggage hold from the offside. As previously mentioned fuelling is conveniently available on both sides of the vehicle with the offside filler also positioned above the front wheels. Below the driver’s window is a small opening panel which provides access to the batteries. I’ve always considered this to be the most acceptable position: easy for a driver to locate, favourable to access and it also assists in giving weight to the front of rear-engined vehicles.

There is no comparison really but I always bear in mind that the iconic Leyland National bus, as first built in 1973, originally had the batteries located at the rear. From 1976 until production ceased in 1985 they were repositioned to below the driver’s cab for the sole purpose of adding weight to the front of the vehicle, as they had earned themselves quite a reputation for not stopping and understeering in the wet!

Looking a little higher than the waist rail, a standard fitment is the provision of pavement luggage locker loading lights, conveniently on both sides of the vehicle.


Four fairly shallow steps form an attractive entrance. Being critical, it is perhaps a little narrow though. The steps have indentations within the moulding to house plastic bristled matting designed to take dirt and wetness from passengers’ footwear. A further two steps lead to a carpeted saloon.

Returning to the drivers cab, the centre console, steering wheel and binnacle is familiarly Volvo. Some may be critical of the height of the dashboard around it but I found it most pleasing, essentially sweeping around with all switches easy to hand; those from the chassis builder and those from the body builder easily distinguishable.

Noteworthy is the provision of an audio and entertainment facility with twin monitors as standard. From a personal perspective though, in today’s day and age most passengers have their own individual devices, so I’m not sure many operators will want the monitors (I certainly didn’t). When considered that these are part of the standard specification, it could help ease a little the final price tag if these were instead an optional extra. That said, I am highly opposed to the products of some of the less costly coach audio suppliers, so it was pleasing to see that Bosch was the manufacturer of choice.

A screen is located on the nearside of the dashboard for the partial camera system which is provided by Brigade and which I have to commend for clarity, particularly when reverse gear is selected, as it also incorporates coloured lines to help distinguish the distance remaining to any objects behind. There is also an interior surveillance camera which is certainly warranted as there is no provision of an internal mirror.

The dashboard also incorporates a sizeable fridge, digital tachograph, the controls for the Hanover destination displays and Sanz Telematic climate control system. This is a different set-up to what was fitted in the earlier B11R bodied examples. I can’t comment on the new system too much as I have very little experience of it but it’s safe to say it was a hot day when I visited Coventry, the coach had been shut up and parked in the sun but the air-conditioning soon cooled the interior temperature to something more acceptable.

The previous system suffered from poor demisters and you really did need an A-level to work it, so anything else can only be considered an improvement. A fully adjustable cloth covered Isri air-suspended driver’s seat with arm rests and integrated microphone continues to be a welcome benefit for the driver but two very simple things that cost literally pennies and are a huge benefit to the driver’s environment are a coat hook and cup holder, both of which are omitted, though strangely there is a cup holder for the courier’s convenience.

The smart interior of the test example featured shades of dark grey. ADRIAN MORTON


As we move to the cabin, first impressions of the ambiance for clients is extremely gratifying. Seats on this example are of a grey patterned fabric with dark grey leather headrest and bolsters, plus light grey piping. It’s something very similar to what I would want if I was specifying a new vehicle purchase myself. The décor afforded a quality and corporate feel but other options of interior colour schemes are available.

The reclining seats are made by Brusa and incorporate two grab handles, a footrest, magazine net, single piece tray table and twin USB charging ports located between the seats, all as standard. Fifty-three seats are fitted within the 12.6m long and now-standard 2.55m wide body, with two pairs mounted on a quick-release mechanism on tracking should a wheelchair passenger need to be carried, thus reducing capacity to 49+1. The centre sunken toilet compartment is demountable allowing for 55 seats should the operator desire; the floor pan and additional seats are supplied to the customer with each vehicle.

The toilet is a Shades unit equipped with smoke detector linked to the dashboard for driver warning, fresh water flush, a wash basin and electric hand dryer. Mounted on top is a hot water boiler, cup dispenser and what I thought a rather nice feature, a litter bin. A 57-seat standard version without toilet has just passed homologation, and will be available for delivery from the first quarter of 2025. The first of these will be a pair for Aldermaston Coach Lines, and fitted with ZF fully automatic transmission. Full length luggage racks with individual service units complete the interior specification.

B8R chassis

The B8R eVoTor we are evaluating features the standard 7.7 litre Euro VI diesel engine with common rail injection delivering 350bhp coupled to Volvo’s I-Shift 12 speed automated manual transmission (AMT) with retarder. A ZF fully automatic option will also be available from early 2025; some stock 53/55-seat examples with the I-Shift gearbox remain available for delivery towards the end of 2024, Volvo informs me.

The B8 engine is marketed by Volvo for its fuel efficiency, something which operators of other B8 models I have spoken to are certainly in agreement with.

The front axle is a beam axle by Volvo, the rear also Volvo’s own, single reduction with optimised ratios.

Our test coach was a customer’s vehicle still to be registered and yet to go through its pre-delivery inspection, as is the case with all new vehicles that are delivered to Volvo’s Bus & Coach Sales Centre in Coventry. Hitting the road, Simon Woolacott, Volvo’s Regional Account Manager for the South, took the wheel first of all, and I positioned myself to the rear of the coach. Legroom between the seats was acceptable for someone of my stature, even if the seat in front was in the fully reclined position. From a passenger perspective it felt smooth, engine noise was unintrusive, the seating very comfortable and most notable for me was the distinct lack of rattles or squeaks, for want of a better word.

I then moved up front, where sadly the destination display restricted my forward vision, but not anywhere near invasively as some others I have experienced. Sitting next to the window, not being of small build, the angled window pillar would have been restrictive and pressed hard against my upper arm if someone were in the seat next to me, which could have made for an uncomfortable journey if sat for an extended period. It should be noted though that this is only two seats out of more than 50, with the average client probably distracted from such things by the fact they have front row viewing of the scenery ahead! I’m unsure if this is just a design feature or a consequence of the roll-over requirements in the build process.

The raked pillar is positioned awkwardly at shoulder height. ADRIAN MORTON

Behind the wheel

After a short while it was my turn in the saddle. We headed further out along the A45 towards the National Exhibition Centre, skirting around the edge of Coventry city centre. This gave me the opportunity to experience both urban driving conditions, with significant amounts of stopping and starting in the first instance but also some high speed running as we approached the M42 and Birmingham Airport. The B8R coped extremely well with everything I asked of it, proving itself a capable machine. You could certainly feel the weight of the MCV body but there didn’t feel to be any lack of power. Progress was still brisk and I could easily keep up with other vehicles on the road.

I’ve always liked the way a Volvo brakes and the B8R eVoTor is no different, both smooth and responsive. It handled cornering well with very little pitch or roll, so negotiating the many roundabouts we encountered was done with ease and still with a good opportunity to make progress.

The overall driving experience was pleasant, refined and relaxed with remarkably little wind intrusion. I anticipated that I was going to be condemnatory of a lack of power with this coach but it was quite refreshing to have been proved wrong.

So, from an operator’s point of view, would I have bought one? The answer is undoubtably yes. I’m impressed by both the B8R chassis and the body. The price point of the coach is highly competitive and it comes with an array of extras which are considered optional fitments on many of its competitors.

The MCV construction is undoubtedly one of quality. Speaking from experience, the back-up I’ve experienced from Volvo and MCV has been second to none and the points I have been critical of are to a large extent barely worthy of note. I think there is still an array of operators put off by the unknown nature of the MCV product but from my perspective it’s getting extremely close to the build attributes of a Van Hool. Marketed right and with excellent fuel consumption I would expect to see many more of these on our roads in the coming years.

The rear has some slight changes compared to the earlier B11R model. ADRIAN MORTON
The PLS lift is mounted within the front locker with its own separate access panel. ADRIAN MORTON