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On test: Taking the rough with the smooth

Kubota is looking to win a bigger share of an increasingly busy diesel UTV market with a new version of its popular RTV 900. Jane Carley reports.

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Its new model, the RTV-X900, is designed to offer increased towing capacity and improved performance from a new chassis, uprated suspension and redesigned HST transmission.


The high capacity diesel model is the biggest seller in its range, which also includes petrol machines aimed at the groundcare and leisure industries and four-seater diesels which are popular with shoots and estates.


Adrian Langmead, business development manager for Kubota Tractor and Groundcare, says: “When we introduced the RTV 900 there were only a handful of companies in this sector, now there are a lot more.


“We have made a number of key changes to really step up the levels of performance and comfort on this model.”


The new, more rigid chassis design gives ground clearance of 260mm (10in), front and rear tow hitch sockets, and heavy-duty skid plates.


Front and rear independent suspension now uses a wishbone system which is adjustable to alter ride height and increase comfort when carrying loads or for use as a runabout. Anti-roll bars and stabiliser links cut body roll and further boost traction.


When tested on a muddy, deeply rutted track, the extra ground clearance and decidedly dogged level of traction certainly came in handy for staying on the track, rather than disappearing into the undergrowth.


Power is supplied by a 21.6hp (898cc) Kubota D902 three-cylinder liquid cooled engine, with a larger radiator with wide fin pitch to minimise clogging from mud. The air intake has also been relocated to a higher position.


A new higher capacity, two-range hydrostatic transmission is designed to offer increased torque and faster response, using a single pump and motor rather than the twin pump from the outgoing model. In line with many of their competitors, Kubota has gone from three to two speeds - high and low - for simplicity and greater control.


Top speed is 40kph and inboard wet disc brakes offer back-up to Kubota’s proven dynamic braking, while an automatic limited slip differential in front and foot-operated differential to the rear improve performance in muddy conditions.


The test track showed it off well, with the RTV X-900 inching gently over the lip of a steep descent and then powering up the other side with the rear differential engaged, despite gluey mud. Hydraulic power steering makes negotiating tight gateways easier too.


Towing capacity is now 1,000kg (up from 500kg, achieved via the uprated transmission and suspension systems), while the 500kg, 0.43cu.m capacity steel cargo bed has hydraulic tipping as standard, operated from the driver’s seat.

Noise levels

UK specification includes a Mauser ROPS with roof; cab kits which can include heater, sun visor and radio are easily fitted, and cabin noise levels have been reduced to 83db.


Officially designated as a 60:40 split bench seat, the new seating arrangement makes for a comfy, spacious perch, even for larger drivers, although two passengers would need to be well acquainted to share their seat without embarrassment. Moving the parking brake to the dashboard also increases legroom.


There is storage under the passenger seat, as well as in the glove box, although road laws require the seat to be fixed during transport.


The digital dashboard is easier to read at a glance and includes overheat alarms for the transmission and engine.


The RTV-X900 has also been restyled for a more ‘automotive’ look, featuring halogen headlamps with an adjustable axis.


Available in orange (worksite) and camo (recreational) finishes, both versions can be certified as roadworthy. Tyre specification is heavy-duty work site (HDWS) for the orange version and ATV-type for the camo models.


Test drive
Underseat storage area

RTV X-900 specifications

  • Engine: Kubota, D902 three-cylinder, 21.6hp
  • Transmission: Kubota VHT-X hydrostatic two-range
  • Max travel speed: 40kph (25mph)
  • Steering: Hydrostatic
  • Brakes: Wet disc
  • Front suspension: Independent dual A-arm
  • Rear suspension: Independent with coil over shocks
  • Ground clearance: 260mm
  • Suspension travel: 200mm
  • Towing capacity: 1,000kg
  • Cargo box capacity: 0.43cu.m/500kg
  • Prices: From £12,600 to £13,500 depending on spec
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