KUB­OTA HOLDS ITS OWN AGAINST THE USUAL SUS­PECTS

Irish Independent - Farming - - Machinery - MA­CHIN­ERY FLEET

ATHLONE-based con­trac­tor Adrian El­liot's main ser­vices are re­seed­ing, slurry spread­ing and drainage work. Last week the West­meath man be­came one of the first in the mid­lands to take de­liv­ery of a new 135hp Kub­ota M135GX trac­tor.

This orange-liv­er­ied ma­chine is the flag­ship of­fer­ing from the Ja­panese trac­tor maker, and in it Kub­ota has in­vested a de­sire to re­cal­i­brate the brand's im­age as be­ing not just a sub-100hp trac­tor spe­cial­ist, but a se­ri­ous con­tender in the high power stakes.

Most farm­ers and con­trac- tors will by now have come across th­ese dis­tinc­tive trac­tors at one show or another. In­vari­ably pun­ters tend t o be im­pressed, with the only caveat typ­i­cally be­ing that there are too few “bells and whis­tles”.

But is this fair? A key part of Kub­ota's iden­tity has al­ways been to keep things nice and sim­ple.

It is an ethos that has won many farm­ers and con­trac­tors over in re­cent years, and one that is clearly re­flected in their trac­tor de­signs. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, the fans of the ex­tras are diehard fans of the big three brands: Deere; New Hol­land; and Massey Fer­gu­son.

Put sim­ply, th­ese pun­ters' hearts are al­ready won over. Pigs will be in­clined to fly be­fore th­ese brand fol­low­ers even con­tem­plate switch­ing al­le­giance.

And then you have the more open-minded in­di­vid­ual. The type of op­er­a­tors who, like Mr El­liot, are will­ing to take a punt on a trac­tor they feel can of­fer the same power as one of the big three but at a more af­ford­able price.

The flag­ship M135 cer­tainly fits into that cat­e­gory; with a list price of circa €65,000 plus VAT, none of the big three can claim to of­fer equiv­a­lent value in terms of horse­power per euro. The catch, of course, is that Kub­ota is still only a grow­ing brand in this coun­try and there is some in­her­ent risk in buy­ing a lesser known mar­que. Is there suf­fi­cient dealer back up in place?

VALUE

Is there ad­e­quate ser­vice knowhow for a newish brand? How does the re­sale value hold up in com­par­i­son to the more es­tab­lished brands? Th­ese were the sort of ques­tions Mr El­liot toyed with be­fore de­cid­ing to seal the deal.

“I or­gan­ised a demo last year to get a feel for what the trac­tor could do. I'd seen it at the Plough­ing Cham­pi­onships and was im­pressed with the build and cab qual­ity, but to get a proper idea you need to have the trac­tor out on test for a few days.

“I was given a trip to Agritech­nica for my birth­day last Novem­ber – a fan­tas­tic show. While ‘re­fu­elling' dur­ing one of the nights out I got chat­ting to one of the sales­men from North Clare Trac­tors, who are Kub­ota agents.

“The sales­man told me they had a 2012-plated demo model of the M135 in stock with low hours on the clock. I more or less signed for the trac­tor there and then – so I went to Ger­many and ended up buy­ing a trac­tor in north Clare.”

Mr El­liot traded in his old Fiat F100 against the Kub­ota. His early im­pres­sions of the new ar­rival have been good. When I called he was busy spread­ing slurry with his 3,000 gal­lon Cross trail­ing shoe tanker.

“I'm very im­pressed with the size and lay­out of the cab,” he said. “It's a re­ally quiet trac­tor in­side even when work­ing at full revs. I plan to buy a Sigma 4 loader for the trac­tor shortly so the good vis­i­bil­ity will be cru­cial for that, es­pe­cially the roof win­dow.

“This trac­tor is also fit­ted with front sus­pen­sion so it's very smooth on the road.” En­gine and trans­mis­sion The trac­tor is rated to de­liver 118hp at the PTO. The four cylin­der 6.1 litre en­gine is tur­bocharged and uses com­mon rail di­rect in­jec­tion in con­junc­tion with ex­haust gas re­cir­cu­la­tion and a diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter to meet emis­sion re­quire­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to Kub­ota, this setup de­liv­ers op­ti­mum ef­fi­ciency, bet­ter fuel econ­omy and less noise. P TO horse­power is reached at 1,900rpm, while peak torque is reached at only 1,200rpm.

Power is sent to a 24F/24R trans­mis­sion with hy­draulic shut­tle. The eight-speed, three­range trans­mis­sion is con­trolled by a sin­gle lever with H-M-L mark­ings for range se­lec­tion, along with thumb +/- but­tons for gear changes.

There are also +/- but­tons on the right side arm­rest for easy ac­cess on the road along with link­age and en­gine speed con­trols.

The hy­draulic shut­tle shift stick is po­si­tioned just be­low the left rim of the steer­ing wheel so

VALUE: Athlone based con­trac­tor Adrian El­liot thinks Kub­ota trac­tors of­fer bet­ter value per horse­power than some of the big­ger brands

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