More commonly associated with golf course equipment, which its UK importer Ransomes Jacobsen specialises in, Cushman has introduced a utility vehicle it believes has the rugged credentials to withstand farm conditions.
The company is not new to utility vehicles - Cushman machines are the workhorses of green keepers up and down the land, hauling mowers to greens, and sand to bunkers.
However, this is the company’s first diesel-engined side-by-side, which gets a 22hp three-cylinder OHV Daedong power unit driving a CVT transmission with low and high gear ratios.
A locking rear differential can be engaged in both two- and four-wheel drive and four-wheel independent suspension provides the off-road capabilities.
It is also supplied ‘road legal’ as standard with dipping headlights, stop lights and indicators, simply requiring registration.
It certainly looks the part too, with a powder-coated welded steel frame, front brush guard and mud flaps.
The model we tested added a glass windscreen with wiper, plastic roof and rear grille. Doors can also be specified, as can a full cab with heater. A camouflage version is to be offered as an alternative to the blue bonnet, and a gun rack fitted to keep gamekeepers happy.
In-cab, an air suspension driver’s seat helps to soak up the bumps, increasing the driver’s stability and control on rough ground.
It is easy to jump on and off and the bench passenger seat comfortably accommodates for two, both with seat belts.
An automotive-style dash gives fuel levels, hours and speed, with all controls falling conveniently to hand. As the transmission is mechanical, there should be less to go wrong in a wet and dirty environment.
The steel cargo bed can hold a maximum of 500kg, and although it looks stubby, is wide enough to hold a Europallet with room to spare.
It is also low enough to manhandle materials on to. It swallowed up nine bales of hay in our test and felt stable with them on board.
Manual tip with gas strut assist is standard, although hydraulic tip can be specified. Towing capacity is 590kg. A 12v outlet in the dashboard could power a slug pelleter or charge your mobile.
The 1600 XD can also be equipped with an optional hydraulic power outlet to drive implements such as a snow blade, augers and post-drivers using quick-connect fittings, offering 22 litres/minute output.
Around the farm, the Cushman 1600 XD felt surefooted on rutted tracks and this winter’s mud, and proved surprisingly manoeuvrable in between buildings.
However, it got a sterner test on Ransomes Jacobsen’s own test track. Inclines of up to 28 degrees, sharp turns through the bracken and deep ruts showed its mettle. A little bit of throttle helps with
enging braking, which allows the driver to inch down steep inclines.
Shifting between ranges requires a bit of muscle, although tapping the throttle helps. Steering is relatively light.
A differential lock to the rear and limited slip differential would keep you moving in very wet conditions, but were not needed on loose soil or deep sand, where the low box was more than adequate.
Ground clearance of 305mm and the 1600 XD’s compact design should cope with rutty gateways or unexpected humps.
The vehicle seemed noisy in the test, but it became apparent this was not actually down to the engine, but rather to the rear grille and chequer plate bed floor rattling - production models have been modified with a quieter ribbed steel floor.
Long-term durability and the impact of the machine on the farming market remains to be seen - it will be available through a variety of dealers, including some who sell other UTV makes.
At a base price of £10,790 with ROPS - the windscreen and sun canopy add £790 and £262 respectively - the Cushman 1600 XD is in a similar ballpark to its competitors. Mud tyres are standard.
The Cushman 1600XD is a sturdily built utility vehicle with minimal frills. Its mechanical CVT transmission, steel load bay and welded steel frame will be right at home in the mud, while a suspension seat for the driver boosts comfort and safety on rough ground.
A 22hp diesel engine should prove frugal but gives enough grunt to keep it moving over all types of terrain, with selectable four wheel drive, low ratio and rear diff lock to handle the worst conditions. Add the windshield and roof and you are protected for the worst of the weather and a 12V electric supply and optional hydraulic outlet allow implements to be fitted, increasing versatility.
All in all, a useful workhorse from a proven manufacturer of off-road vehicles.