Launched four years ago, the Manitou MLT625-75H has gone on to be one of the firm’s most popular machines, with more than 6,000 units sold into construction and agriculture.
It is one of the UK’s best sellers in its class too. Thanks to its compact dimensions, it has become the machine of choice for many when it comes to working in chicken sheds, pig units and small livestock farms – anywhere where space is at a premium.
Now with a Stage 3b engine as of last year along with a few other tweaks, how will the popular French machine fare against its well established counterparts?
There are two base specification levels of the 625; Classic and Premium, the latter getting air-conditioning, air seat and the firm’s Easy Connect System.
Taking many design cues from its larger stable mates, the pint-pot-proportioned 625 looks like a scaled down version of larger models in the family. This impression is mirrored inside the cab where features and controls are also inherited from the firm’s larger series.
Inside, design is sleek and modern with an informative digital display and Manitou’s JSM (Joystick Switch and Move) dominating the cab landscape.
The JSM joystick is perhaps at the heart of any Manitou loader. Well thought out, this alien-looking control quite literally puts all primary controls at your fingertips including all boom and attachment movements, transmission and direction change.
More importantly, it makes better use of your fingers allowing easier management of simultaneous operations. While it can seem a bit of a head trip at first to use, it is like sliced bread once used to it.
Visibility out of the cab and around the machine is pretty decent for the most part. In terms of views to the right rear quarter, these are hampered slightly by the boom but not drastically so like the Dieci.
Its cab is the narrowest out of the four which is most apparent around the shoulders and elbows area, but still offers a relatively comfortable driving position.
Getting power to the wheels is a single stage hydrostatic transmission using two virtual speed ranges which limit top speed to either 12.5kph or 30kph. There is also the option of an Eco 25kph transmission.
The advantage of a single stage hydro, according to Manitou, is it can keep the same amount of torque in both ranges.
It feels a very refined transmission too. Really responsive and controllable and its shuttle is snappy without being neck braking.
For certain applications, such as mucking out long buildings, low range could do with being a bit faster, rather than having to use high range and sacrifice some precision, or constantly switch between the two ranges. Perhaps three ranges might be an idea – a 16kph middle range would be welcome.
Like the JCB, the 625’s braking pedal incorporates an inching function, useful for more precise movements. It also helps when decelerating because it tells the transmission to back off, giving some engine braking.
Building on its electric park brake is an automatic function which applies the brake every time the machine is put into neutral. It is a nifty feature too and one which can help with certain loader applications such as filling a muck spreader, as it holds the machine still while you crack on with loader movements.
Supplying oil for all boom and steering functions on the 625 is an 87l/min gear pump. With quite a generous flow, it rewards with fairly swift enough. However, while your fingers might be able to carry out many multiple tasks via the JSM joystick, don’t always expect the machine’s hydraulic performance to keep up.
Adding functionality to the 625 is the ability alter oil flow of the third service which can be done through the dash. Also, if the constant flow option is specified, four pre-set flows can be set for different attachments.
Complimenting the 625’s decent hydraulic performance is good manoeuvrability. Thanks to a fastidious approach to internal component layout, wheelbase has been kept as short as possible. Yes, that might sacrifice a bit of stability, but it was able to run rings around the JCB and Dieci, particularly in some of the tighter buildings.
Up front is a standard Manitou headstock, the same headstock as used on a wide range of the firm’s machines - useful if replacing another Manitou or complimenting one.
Conveniently, at the front of the machine under the left hand headlight is located a hydraulic pressure dump function, which can be pressed when swapping attachments. Called the Easy Connect System (ECS), it ‘unloads’ the third service hydraulic quick couplers to allow hydraulic pipes to be easily connected or disconnected.
For safe boom operation, and to comply with the EN15000 technical standard, there are three modes; handling, bucket and suspended load.
Handling-mode is the 625’s default mode and if the safe handling limit is exceeded then the telehandlers control system will cut all function to the boom except boom raise and retract – allowing the load to be brought closer to the machine.
In bucket-mode the telehandlers control system will allow the operator to tip the load in addition to raise and boom retraction.
Suspended-mode is the same as bucket mode but the limit is reduced to 90 per cent of the bucket-mode’s limit to allow for some swinging/movement of the suspended item.
However, if operating in bucket mode and you leave the cab for more than 10 seconds, the machine will default back to handling mode. Slightly frustrating, but you can see why from a safety point of view, especially if drivers are swapping. However, it can be annoying if carrying out stop/start work around the yard, as is often the case.
In addition, Comfort Ride Control boom suspension can be specified, and as we have found in the past and on other machines is a useful addition at ironing out bumps.