Has Deutz raised the bar with its new pocket rocket? Following the launch of its 6 Series Agrotron tractors last September, James Rickard catches up with one of Deutz’s pre-production machines for an on-farm test drive.
Bridging the gap between the 5 and 7 Series, the 6 Series is made up of six models, two of which are short wheel-base four-cylinders, with maximum powers ranging from 149hp to 193hp.
Depending on model, the series is available in three specifications: standard, P and TTV – the TTV getting a continuously variable transmission.
Our test subject was the standard 176hp (maximum power) 6180 which is the second most powerful of the six-cylinders. And as basic specification tractors go, it was pretty impressive; kitted out with speed matching function, axle system management (ASM), pto control buttons on mudguards, four-speed pto and four double-acting, mechanically controlled spool valves. Options included front axle and cab suspension, load-sensing hydraulics and air brakes.
Designed as an all-rounder, we put it to the test on a 32cu.m (actual volume) forage wagon, harvesting medium to heavy second cut silage. A high, constant power requirement, coupled with roadwork and the necessity to be agile in the field and yard really gave the 6180 something to think about.
From the outset the 6180 looks a handy sized tractor for its power, begging the question is it a bit too light for heavy-duty and high power applications?
However, our concerns were soon quashed as we took to the East Lancashire hillsides armed with the forage wagon. Romping up and down the swaths at a heady 6-7.5mph it soon became clear the 6180 was on top of the job.
Its six-pot Deutz engine sung a sweet note as it was loaded up and the traction from its 650mm wide rear tyres demonstrated the tractor’s ability to really cling on to the soft peaty ground it was presented with.
It also remained composed on the road, both with a loaded and unloaded forage wagon. Its compact nature also helped negotiate the clamp and twisty headlands.
Love or hate its styling, there is no denying it is striking. The bold Italian flare continues inside the cab with all primary controls colour coded into their respective functions: orange for transmission, blue for hydraulics, yellow for pto and green for the linkage. While the controls are clear, the assault of colour does make you feel you are trapped inside a child’s play pen.
Control layout is good – the armrest controls are particularly convenient to use with buttons and switches for revs, differential, 4WD, ASM, pto, linkage and powershift, placed at your fingertips. However, the reach for the gearstick when in fifth is a bit of a stretch, but according to the manufacturer this has already been addressed for production models.
ASM function automatically looks after the engagement and disengagement of the differential lock and 4WD. It does this in response to steering angle and speed.
The ZF-made transmission consists of six ranges with four powershifts in each offering 24 forward and 24 reverse ratios. With the creeper box engaged, this adds another 16 slower gears.
Gears are selected via a main gearstick which features two buttons to shift up and down the powershifts and a declutch button to change ranges without having to use the clutch pedal. Powershifts can also be changed via a convenient switch mounted on the armrest. We found the tractor to be very drivable using the declutch button, almost making your left leg redundant.
Speed matching is a feature of the box, which automatically takes care of matching powershifts when you change range. For example, it will switch from a high powershift to a low powershift when you change up a range. P-specification models also get automatic shifting.
Clutch modulation can also be altered which changes clutch uptake aggressiveness for the shuttle, declutch button and powershift change. This can be altered via a scroll wheel on the shuttle lever. An LCD display on the right-hand A-post shows the different aggression levels along with gear selection.
The cab offers decent access, even when the passenger seat is folded down, and the all-round visibility is superb, particularly over the bonnet which seems to just disappear. Rear quarter windows also open which provides a bit of fresh air.
Storage is good with several cubby holes, one chilled, located around the cab. However, it does lack a flat surface to place items such as the all important butty box.
One major annoyance of the tractor is it needs ‘waking up’ every time you start it. To do this, the rear linkage needs to be raised and lowered to activate the hydraulics and the pto button needs holding to enable engagement.
At the rear, a Dromone pick-up hitch is standard on the six cylinders and the spool valves are well spaced to provide good access. Load-sensing valves and pneumatic couplings are also good to get at. Adjustment to drop links and stabilisers are simple to adjust via screws and buttons on the mudguards help when hitching to impliments.
Daily maintenance is aided by fold out radiators and good access to check points. However, the AdBlue tank is mounted on the right-hand side of the tractor which is a niggle but not a major problem.
It is clear from our time with the tractor that the 6 Series is a good all-rounder.
Having only used it for grassland applications, we are pretty sure it will be more than capable should you wish to ballast it up and throw a cultivator on the back. Similarly, thanks to its compact nature and excellent visibility, we think it will not be too shabby as a loader tractor.
Overall, we think Deutz has done a good job with this series and it is definitely one to consider. It should certainly make other manufacturers take notice.