KUBOTA HOLDS ITS OWN AGAINST THE USUAL SUSPECTS
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?
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