Kubota M100GX review

By: Tom Dickson, Photography by: Ellen Dewar, video director: Josh Robinson, video editor: Bill Kalajdziovsi

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The Kubota M100GX performed admirably in the brand’s first foray into the Top Tractor Shootout. Judge Tom Dickson reports.

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Kubota M100GX

Top Tractor Shootout 2016 took on a whole new look compared to previous years: while last year’s event was held in New Zealand, this year we relocated to Australia, and this time we used a new formula to determine the best value-for-money utility tractors.

We pitted each tractor in a head-to-head time trial consisting of loader work and manoeuvrability, then used a formula that combined ranking points and price to calculate the result and eliminate bias from the judges.

However, eclipsing all the changes from previous years was the appearance of Kubota at this year’s event.

The brand entered the Kubota M100GX tractor for its debut appearance. It’s a 100hp, four-cylinder tractor with Intelli-Shift transmission, a larger cabin than previous models, and bi-speed turning for superior mobility.

The Kubota M100GX was the only tractor in the competition to incorporate an armrest driver control unit into the air suspension seat, and included a concise information display monitor on the right-hand side console.

Accompanying our debutant to the ball was Kubota tractor senior product manager Konstantin Blersch, who acted as the perfect chaperone and went to great lengths to make sure the M100GX was perfectly set up for presentation and adorned with all sorts of Kubota paraphernalia.

Blersch admits that Kubota would love the M100GX to win the competition, but says their main aim in entering the shootout is to show Australia that Kubota are producing quality tractors in the utility tractor market.

"Our compact tractor range, small earthmoving equipment and diesel engines are well regarded for reliability and have been experiencing terrific market share," he says. "Off the back of that, we want to start making a sales impact into the utility and medium tractor range."

For a first-time entrant, the Kubota M100GX scored exceptionally well and, in fact, ranked highest in the group for transmission, turning circle, cabin space, performance monitor and warranty. It ranked second only to the John Deere for traction and stability throughout the winding course and loader work.


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Kubota M100GX photo gallery

 

Walkaround

There is certainly nothing compact looking about the Kubota M100GX. It’s a big, strong-looking machine with great ground clearance of around 560mm. Its size was only matched in the field by the John Deere entry.

Under the bonnet is the Kubota V3800-TI-CRS engine (their very own). The four-cylinder common-rail with direct injection engine is complemented by a turbocharger and intercooler to generate 100hp at 2600rpm. Maximum torque of 351Nm is achieved at 1400-1600rpm.

The fuel tank holds 190 litres and should keep you going all day. There is no need for the inclusion of an AdBlue tank as Kubota prefers the combination of Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) and a diesel particulate filter (DPF) muffler to reduce harmful emissions and make the M135GX Interim Tier IV-compliant.

The Intelli-Shift 24-speed transmission was deemed best in the completion. It consists of a three-speed mechanical shift range selector with an eight-speed PowerShift to provide 24 gears in both forward and reverse and a maximum speed of 40km/h.

Both the range changes and power shifting on the Kubota M100GX are done from the same lever on the right hand side console. The eight PowerShift gears can also be activated from two buttons on the armrest console. Each range change required clutching via either the foot clutch or declutch button on the gear lever.

Eight PowerShift gears give a good working range with plenty of scope to keep the tractor working at optimum revs before having to change ranges.

Having the option of any one of eight PowerShift gears at the touch of a button made navigating the winding course and loader work achievable without having to change ranges. It proved to be a real time and energy saver.

The hydraulic shuttle lever on the Kubota M100GX is perfectly positioned behind the steering wheel but I just felt the three-speed range stick was positioned a little bit too far forward for comfortable reach.

The tractor also features cruise control, a rev limiter and an electronic governor that maintains constant engine revs to prevent a drop in PTO revs under load.

The main hydraulic services pump delivers 70.9L/min to the Category II hook end-style linkage and two sets of remotes. This figure is second only to the John Deere, which has only one hydraulic pump.

A second steering pump on the Kubota tractor produces 60.4L/min. Only two PTO speeds of 540 and 1000rpm are on offer without an economy mode.

The M100GX ranked number one for having the best turning circle. It’s a result that contradicted what you would expect from one of the larger tractors at this year’s event, and is a result of its bi-speed turn feature.

When the front wheels exceed a turning angle of 35 degrees, Kubota’s bi-speed turn kicks in and rotates the front wheels at a rate of speed nearly twice that of the rear wheels. It drags the tractor around for a smoother, tighter turn. It engages only when the tractor is in four-wheel drive mode.

We tested all tractors for inside turning diameter, and the worst recorded measurement of 9.0m came from our Massey entrant. With bi-speed turn engaged, the M100GX registered an inside turning diameter of only 4.3m.

Kubota M100GX tractor cabin interior
The cabin in the Kubota M100GX was pleasant and roomy, but overall fitout and finish needs work.

 

In the cab

Jumping into the cabin revealed both the best and the not-so-good features of the Kubota. The four-pillar cabin design meant entry through the massive doors was always going to be a breeze. From the seated position it had a very good all-round visibility, and the glass roof panel provided direct sight of the raised frontend loader.

A well laid-out interior provided a really pleasant work environment. We felt that it was the roomiest, which meant we awarded it 10/10 for cabin space. Tilt and telescopic steering allows you to customise the driving position to your personal preference.

The M100GX is the only tractor to have incorporated an armrest control console. It includes most of the frequently used operating controls and really simplifies the driving experience.

My only criticism is that it was loosely fitted to the seat, suggesting that the attention to detail regarding its fitout and finish needed a bit of improvement to bring it up to the standard of other tractors in this price bracket.

It also excelled in the area of delivering important engine and general operating information to the driver via not one, but two digital LCD panels. The dash-mounted unit displayed basic information like shuttle position, current gear and engine revs.

The second screen on the side console provided much more technical information regarding the tractors operating performance.

Overall, I reckon the cabin of the Kubota M100 GX has incorporated more technology at the driver’s fingertips than the others, but the overall fitout and finish is not up the same standard and was reflected in the score given for this category.

Kubota V3800 TI CRS tractor engine
Under the bonnet is the Kubota V3800-TI-CRS engine.

 

On the job

The Kubota M100GX put in a really impressive performance throughout most parts of the course. Its large stature and weight of 3990kg kept it firmly planted on the ground during the tight turns and loader work.

Having eight PowerShift gears at our fingertips gave us a huge speed range to work without having to change ranges.

Even though I felt that I was getting through the winding course quite easily, I still managed to run over the marker pegs on the edge of the track. It was only after I completed the course that I realised that the outer edge of the rear wheels protruded about 20cm further out than the front wheels.

It certainly created more stability, but meant I couldn’t use the front tyres as a guide.

The Kubota M100GX ticked all the boxes as being a good loader tractor. Great visibility all-round from the cab and we could keep the pace up loading the hay without the risk of tipping over or losing traction.

The loader had boom suspension with individual hydraulic couplers. Attaching the bucket and the forks was better than most of the others, because I had clear vision of the attaching points throughout the whole process.

The whole procedure of removing the bucket and attaching the forks took no more than 30 seconds – under race conditions, that is.

Kubota M100GX rear PTO
Only two PTO speeds of 540 and 1000rpm are on offer without an economy mode.

 

The verdict

I have no doubt that Kubota will get plenty of interest in the M100GX. Its three-year, 3000-hour warranty was only matched by Case’s entry, proving that Kubota has full confidence in the quality and performance of its product.

 

Kubota M100GX price

At $92,000 plus GST, the Kubota M100GX was the third most expensive tractor at this year’s event. My gut tells me it delivers good value for money, but I would like to see it lift its standard of fitout and finish inside the cabin.

This was a great first-up performance by Kubota in the Top Tractor Shootout.

Top Tractor Shootout 2016 scoresheet link


HITS

  • 24x24 Intelli-Shift transmission
  • Bi-speed turning
  • Turning circle
  • Ground clearance
  • Cabin space
  • Four-pillar cab
  • Dual digital LCD information panels
  • Warranty
  • Stability during loader work
  • Bucket and fork attachment vision

 MISSES

  • Cabin fitout and finish
  • Range gear stick mounted to far forward
  • Rear wheel mounting position

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Top Tractor 2016 rating criteria
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