Despite having almost identical spec on paper, it was interesting to see just how much these four compact telehandlers differed.
As we found, there is a lot of compromise in the design of compact telehandlers, especially in terms of component selection, position and layout.
Impressively, we found a telehandler of this size to be a lot more capable than we thought, able to handle a variety of tasks with ease. In many respects, they could certainly be considered an upgrade from a tractor and loader combination.
Highlights of the Mini Agri 25.6 include its simplicity, particularly its transmission operation and un-cluttered cab layout. Like the Merlo, it is quite an amateur-friendly machine to operate and very jump on and drive.
On the downside, its poor rear right quarter visibility is hard to ignore and it could do with some livelier hydraulics to give the others a run for their money.
However, at a ten grand cheaper retail price than the JCB and Manitou, could you afford to put up with a few inconveniences?
With a telehandler manufacturing heritage such as JCB’s, the 525-50 does have a lot to live up to.
Impressively, it looks like the manufacturer has done its homework and combined a lot of favourable elements such as decent cab space, swift hydraulics, good stability, low boom position and good all-round visibility.
Some compromising design elements we do not like is the automatic bucket shake function and the reduced steering lock, especially when compared to the others.
The 625 is clearly a well thought out machine. Practical and modern, its design is very smart. Despite its ‘compact’ stature, it brings with it many features found on its larger siblings.
Highlights include its auto handbrake function which automatically ‘holds’ the 625 with foot lifted off the throttle and allows the driver to operate boom functions in comfort. Once used to it, the JSM joystick is an absolute peach, putting all primary controls to hand.
Transmission was well refined with good control characteristics, but we feel the low range’s top speed should be set higher. Visibility is not as good to the blind side as the JCB or Merlo – a design compromise we can forgive.
Yes it looks a little dated and industrial looking but as a predominantly mechanical telehandler with great visibility it will be very attractive to many customers.
Loader control is good thanks to a direct connection to the loader’s valve chest - faster boom hydraulics would be nice though.
The transmission is pretty much all mechanical and one of the simplest to operate with a good amount of drivability, although it does need a few revs to make it work.
Boom suspension is not an option at the moment – a potential setback for customers with large distances to travel, especially given that the P25.6 is the fastest machine out of the four.
As ever in group tests, each machine had its particular strengths and weaknesses highlighted by which set of engineering compromises the manufacturer took. However, on this occasion top honours go to JCB.
But it is so nip and tuck at the top; there is no resting on its laurels for the Stafforshire-born machine. It would only take Manitou to conjure up a bit more cab space and a bit more hydraulic performance and JCB can kiss goodbye to its top spot.
Similarly, with a new machine on the way from Merlo, it will definitely be a one to watch. And Dieci, yes, it is a bit of a rank outsider, but the firm seem to be on a real push at the moment in the UK and if design elements from its impressive Agri40.7 range start to filter down through its portfolio, we will have a real battle on our hands.