Originally launched as the Apollo range in the construction industry in 2007, the Mini Agri range, as it is now known, soon found its way into agriculture.
Several facelifts and tweaks later, we end up with the machine we have on test, the 25.6, representing the firm’s entry level agricultural machine.
Not being the most obvious choice on people’s wish lists of telehandlers, we were keen to see how the rank outsider fared against the more established stalwarts in our group test.
With its curvy looks - very similar to the Manitou - the 25.6’s cab looks a smart place to work.
Access is decent and cab space is surprisingly generous for the most part. Cab layout could not be simpler either, with a high degree of predictability as to what all the controls do. The dash is clear and concise using a mixture of analogue dials, including one for the load indicator, and a digital display for machine information such as fuel use and service intervals.
Joystick control is pretty self explanatory incorporating proportional roller switches for boom extension and third service. However, it is positioned quite close to the cab’s right-hand cladding which means your knuckles can occasionally get bashed.
Like the Merlo, the Dieci also requires a consent switch to be pressed on the joystick for functions to work. For the most part, you can do this almost without thinking, only really noticing it when reversing and looking over your right shoulder and the switch gets harder to hold as your arm is stretched. Instead of a switch, a sensor which detects hand heat can be specified.
The interior looks well put together and its light grey cladding gives a good sense of airiness, just as well too, because the high mounted position of the boom does feel imposing. Cab space, particularly around the shoulders, is also reduced by the use of a right hand mid-mounted pillar, something which none of the other machines have.
Between the pillar and the boom, visibility to the right rear quarter is compromised and easily the worst out of the four machines.
With a top speed of 30kph, the 25.6 uses a single stage hydrostatic transmission with a twin speed function which automatically switches from a high torque mode to a high speed mode. Conveniently, this means no manual range changes are required, with the transmission adapting to the changing conditions without operator intervention – it is an increase in transmission oil pressure, about 180bar, which triggers the change up to the high speed mode.
It works well too and is a very jump on and drive system. The transmission does, however, require a few revs to get going, but the payoff is decent control of transmission at low speed.
If more speed selection accuracy is required, it does come with a separate inching pedal.
On the downside, the transmission does have a tendency to ‘run on’ after you have taken your foot off the accelerator pedal, unlike the other three machines which do eventually come to a standstill. It is almost like driving a torque converter type machine.
To keep up traction, each axle employs limited slip differentials which conveniently do a good job of shifting power to the wheels with the most traction, rather than having to remember to engage a differential lock, which is often too late by the time you realise you need it.
At the heart of the 25.6’s hydraulic system is an 80l/min pump. Compared to the other machines tested it does need a few revs to make it really dance. However, thanks to the joystick being mounted directly on top of the valve chest, feel of hydraulics and response is good.
Like the JCB, there is also the option of a constant pump system, useful for powered equipment such as bedding dispensers and feeder buckets. As standard it does have the ability to hold its revs via a hand throttle controlled by a rocker switch.
Upfront, you will find Dieci’s own headstock; however, the firm will fit any type you desire including Manitou, pin and cone, CNH and Euro carriage (the same as a tractor and loader). All are available with either hydraulic or mechanical headstock locking – the latter carried out using a diverter mounted on the swan neck and the third service. The solenoid used to switch overt the diverter, though, looks a bit exposed and would benefit from a guard.
Also mounted on the neck is a 12V power supply and the ability to plug in man basket controls.
Manoeuvrability of the 25.6 is pretty decent, but slightly heavier steering compared to the others, does mean if gives you a bit more of a work out.
To comply with the EN15000 technical standard which addresses longitudinal stability, Dieci has created two handling modes (four modes on larger models); bucket and pallet.
In bucket mode, as long as the boom is retracted, you can pretty much do what you like, which is good when diving into and ripping out compacted bedding. It is only when the boom is extended that the EN15000 safety systems come into play. You still get plenty of freedom to move, but when the load limit is reached the boom will stop extending, at which point you have to press a button which allows any movement to be performed as long as it brings the load closer to the machine.
Switching into pallet mode sees further restrictions applied with the safe load limits reduced.
In both modes, an override key can be turned giving you 30 seconds of operation.