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VIDEO on-test: No frills Versatile tractor impresses

Insights

Following on from its introduction of the Versatile Delta Track tracked tractor range into the UK, importer JPM Agriculture is now doing the same with the Versatile range of conventional tractors. James Rickard takes to the wheel to find out more.

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Through importer, JPM Agriculture, Versatile conventional tractors are now available in the UK from 260 to 360hp.

As importer JPM Agriculture continues to grow its Versatile tractor offering in the UK, we check out a model from its latest conventional tractor range, the Versatile 260.

 

Part of a five model range which tops out at 360hp, it is easy to see with its North American heritage, 11 tonne base weight and distinctive long nose it will be going squarely up against Case IH’s Magnum and John Deere 8000 Series’.

 

Billed as a simple, solid, draft tractor, it makes use of a 8.9-litre Cummins motor, coupled to a 16-speed, full powershift transmission. So is that enough to impress? To find out, we hitched up to a 3m, TWB Terminator disc/tine cultivator and headed to the Fens.

Engine

A jewel in the 260’s crown is the Cummins power plant. Peaking at 296hp, it dishes out grunt effortlessly. Maximum torque of 1,282Nm comes in at about 1,800rpm, but for this test on boys, vegetable growing land, 1,650rpm was plenty to comfortably propel the 260 along at 10kph.

 

To make the most of available power, a cruise mode can be used to set engine rpm, which works with the engine to try and maintain a constant peak power.

 

Cruise mode can be turned on or off whenever required and a further two buttons can be used to adjust engine revs. Unfortunately, the hand throttle position has to be higher than the memory setting to work, which makes it a little less useful if you quickly want to come out of the cruise mode and drop the revs, at the headland for example. A useful addition would be the use of two cruise positions, one for work and one for the headland.

Front-end

Front-end configuration of the 260 sees the engine bolted up against the transmission, with the cooling package hung out in front of the front axle. The fan sits over the front axle and draws air backwards via ducting.

 

It is a layout which affords a tight turning circle, as the front wheels have plenty of space to turn in. It also provides good access to radiators and the engine bay, and is said to help with the balance of the tractor. It does, however, result in a long sloping bonnet which Eddie the Eagle could easily train on, but does not compromise too much on forward visibility – marker boards help with locating the front corners.

 

If debris does build up on the grill, the angle of the fan’s vanes can be altered at the flick of a switch, reversing the air flow.

 

For comfort, we are told independent front suspension will be available from Carraro in the near future.

Transmission

With 16 forward and nine reverse gears, shifts are relatively smooth and snappy for the most part, even under heavy load, but clutch pack changes in between groups of gears such as 9th and 10th are currently pretty jerky. The firm says it is working on a software update to iron out the creases.

 

This aside, the powertrain does a good job of getting the power down to where it needs to be. For a larger footprint, 42 inch wheels are an option.

 

From start-up, the transmission always defaults to fifth. Particularly for road work, if you get fed up of manually flicking through gears, you can alter how many gears the transmission changes at a time, from one to three gears, up or down. Unfortunately, there is no CVT option at the moment.

Cab

Like its tracked brethren, the Delta Track, it uses a very similar cab frame, albeit with some interior space lost to the rear wheel arches. It is nonetheless a very spacious cab with plenty of room to stretch out.

 

While we do appreciate the in-cab, throaty sound emanating from the Cummins engine, the constant drone could do with being a bit quieter, particularly for long days. We are told there is an insulating kit available, and the manufacturer is looking to install a thicker windscreen.

Controls

Layout is identical to the Delta Track with a large armrest-mounted console looking after all tractor functions.

 

Garnished with clearly labelled, soft touch keys, it is pretty obvious as to what most functions do. Paddle switches take care of spool valve control, while a reassuringly, rugged looking gearstick controls tractor direction and the powershift transmission.

 

Adorning the console is a seven inch screen, which for now, is only used to show and set up spool flow and timings. The firm says a comprehensive headland management system is to come, as well as integrating guidance control.

 

Although the tractor comes guidance-ready, you currently need a separate controller to make it work. As well as Versatile’s own systems, it is also compatible with all the major providers including TopCon, GreenStar and Trimble.

Back-end

At the rear, four, double acting spools come as standard, with another two available as an option. Power beyond is also available, as are air brakes.

 

Hydraulic flow is 208l/min courtesy of a Bosch Rexroth pump, and certainly makes a cultivator pop out of the ground, although the high capacity will probably be appreciated more for driving a fan on a drill, for example.

 

For those who want one, a pick up hitch provider is being looked into.

 

Maintenance is not lost on the 260, with remote filters conveniently positioned within easy grasp. Hydraulic/transmission oil levels can also be viewed by a sight glass.

 

As for pto, 1,000 rpm and 540rpm speeds are catered for, which require the shaft swapping around to change speed – there is no in-cab speed selection.

FG Insight verdict

Styling-wise, the 260 is not going to win any design awards, but its simple, solid looks kind of reflect this tractor’s capabilities.

 

With no gimmicky boost feature, the 260 does what it says on the bonnet, and some. In the field, the 260 does a good job of channeling power where it needs to be with minimal fuss.

 

It is clear who its direct competitors are, in the form of Case IH and John Deere, and is a good alternative to those fellow North American machines.

 

Its bulky nature and 40kph top speed means the 260’s natural habitat is definitely the field, predominantly carrying out tillage work, although we think it could make a good baling tractor. It is not a competitor for the more versatile Claas Axion 900 or Fendt 900 Series machines.

 

Overall, the 260 represents affordable power. But with only one sales outlet at the moment, back-up will be the main question mark for most people. However, if all you want is a self propelled drawbar to drag metal through the ground, then why not?

260 specifications

  • Engine: 8.9-litre, six-cylinder, Cummins
  • Power: 260hp rated, 296hp peak
  • Torque: 1,282Nm at 1,800rpm
  • Transmission: full powershift with 16 forwards and nine reverse
  • Hydraulics: Closed centre load sensing offering 208l/min
  • Rear linkage lift capacity: 8,550kg
  • Pto speeds: 540/1,000rpm
  • Weight unbalasted: 10,861kg
  • Maximum operating weight: 12,478kg
  • Wheelbase: 3,165mm
  • Service intervals: 500 hours engine, 1,500 hours transmission
  • On farm starting price: £80,000
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