At the top end of its 500 series, Fendt’s 516 Vario in Profi Plus specification boasts 165hp from four cylinders, promising a lightweight yet powerful and sophisticated package. Geoff Ashcroft finds out more with an on-farm test.
Fendt’s new 500 series closely mirrors the design of the larger 700 series, but in a scaled-down, lighter and lower-powered chassis.
This 516 in Profi Plus specification sits at the top of the 500 series. Power comes from a four-cylinder, 4.04-litre Deutz engine which packs a hefty punch. Rated power is 150hp, with a maximum of 165hp unleashed as revs drop from a 2,100rpm peak to 1,800rpm.
There is no electronic trickery for a power boost - what you see is what you get. An SCR system using AdBlue takes care of emissions and is maintenance free for the life of the tractor, says Fendt.
Stripped bare, the 516 tips the scales at just 6,400kg and filling the fuel tank takes it to 6,600kg.
Our test tractor came with a 1,250kg front weight and two 300kg rear wheel weights, comfortably creating an 8,450kg outfit capable of handling our Lemken Jewel 7, five-furrow reversible and three-metre power harrow outfit.
Specification of the Profi Plus is impressive and includes VarioActive steering, 10.4in touch screen Vario Terminal, VarioGuide guidance and Teach-In Automatic headland management, but with an on-farm price of £117,234 as tested, so is the level of investment required.
It also came with plenty of options.
Our test tractor came with a 1,250kg front weight
Daily checks are easy to achieve from ground level, as is cleaning the cooling pack. Engine oil change intervals are 500 hours, while the transmission and rear axle oil needs replacing every 2,000 hours. The hydraulic system, which offers 55 litres of its 70-litre capacity for spools and tipping trailers, needs replacing every 1,000 hours.
Using the 700 series’ VisioPlus cab with full suspension is the 500’s jewel in the crown. With a full-height front screen which curves into the roof space and a roomy, well-finished interior with plenty of storage space and room to stretch your legs into the right- hand front corner, it is a great place to spend long working days.
But for all its comfort and convenience, we would like to see deeper cab steps. The shallow grates are too awkward to use for scraping mud off your boots.
A half-frame chassis simplifies the integration of a front linkage and pto. It also carries the engine on robust mounts, isolating the motor from the rest of the tractor. From the cab, we were impressed by the smooth, vibration-free and quiet characteristics from the four-cylinder engine.
But with such an impressively quiet platform, other noises are filtering in, and it might be time for Fendt to pay more attention to improving sound insulation beneath the cab floor to suppress transmission whining noises, for example.
It was only when we opened the rear window that the plough’s clip-on skimmers could clearly be heard rattling, confirming just how quiet the cab is.
We used Fendt’s Vario-Tronic Teach-In to load headland sequences. This allows almost any combination of implements and control functions to be stored and assigned to the Go and End buttons on the Fendt joystick.
Do not be put off by the level of tech offered - it does make life easier.
Such cleverness made it easy to introduce a low speed for headland turns and an in-field cruise control speed for ploughing, plus lift and lower sequences and the ability to turn the plough over.
Should you need to edit any of the functions, they are easy to tweak at any stage. It is not necessary to re-record the process to make an adjustment.
Engine droop is now managed automatically and the tractor sets the load limit accordingly, but this can be overridden, where required.
Our test tractor also came with Fendt’s fast steer system - VarioActive.
Once activated, it responds to quick flicks of the steering wheel to execute full-lock turns without having to fully wind the steering wheel.
It is effortless to use when making headland turns. It is also speed sensitive and is automatically deselected at forward speeds above 25kph.
With three fields of wholecrop stubble to go at, featuring about a dozen headlands each, slippery slopes, water courses and more corners than the Nurburgring, it really was a test of the 516’s power, traction and agility.
Ploughing at 400mm furrow widths and 200mm depth, the 516 proved more than up to the task, spending most of its time around 1,300 to 1,400rpm at a forward speed of 7kph.
When more power was needed to maintain output on slopes, the 516 delivered, averaging 16.2 litres/hectare (6.55 litres/acre).
Power harrowing was as stress-free as ploughing. This gave us a chance to delve into the 516’s gismos further.
After driving the circumference of the fields, we were able to set up a virtual headland boundary 12m in from the field edge. Once this was crossed in either direction, if engaged, it could automatically run a headland management sequence.
The power harrow work also let us try out the guidance and automatic steering systems, which in this case took guidance from the free Egnos satellites, with correction signals coming from the EE phone network.
It worked well, with an accuracy of plus or minus 20mm, but you need a strong phone signal for it to work and it can be affected when you go under trees.
Power was not an issue, with the engine set to 1,550rpm and the pto in 540 economy to drive the 3m power harrow. This gave us fuel economy of about 17.6 litres/ha (7.1 litres/acre).
Fendt has pulled off a clever move by making the 516 bat above its average. It never feels large, clumsy or awkward and delivers on visibility, comfort and versatility. Neither does it feel cramped, noisy or difficult to handle.
However, the 516 Profi Plus does pack the potential for intimidation with new customers, simply from the myriad of controls and functions on offer. But the reality is somewhat different.
It is a straightforward tractor to drive. Once the basics have been grasped, the functionality of the Vario Terminal creates endless possibilities to fine-tune tractor operation to your own preferences.
When you get stuck, an interactive, on-screen help function makes it easy to seek out further help.
This tractor can be as simple or as complex as your work requires.