Kubota Grand M110GX tractor review

By: Brent Lilley, Photography by: Brent Lilley

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Kubota Grand M110GX Kubota Grand M110GX
Kubota Grand M110GX Kubota Grand M110GX
Kubota Grand M110GX Kubota Grand M110GX
Kubota Grand M110GX Kubota Grand M110GX
Kubota Grand M110GX Kubota Grand M110GX

Brent Lilley went along to one of Kubota's promotional days featuring the new Grand X tractor models. What did he think of the bright orange machines?


The opportunity to check out the redesigned Kubota line-up (and the lure of a steak sandwich) proved an opportunity too good to miss recently, so I got myself along to a drive day to see what Kubota had to offer the market.

There are four models on offer ranging from 100hp up to135hp, but I'm concentrating on the M110GX, although all the models are very similar and most of what follows will apply across the whole range.

I'm choosing the 110hp model as it is the middle-of-the-range machine and will be at home across a variety of situations in Australia. Although it wasn't the most strenuous of tests for the Kubota, as we had no implements to use, there was a rough area of ground to drive around on, as well as a decent stockpile of soil to get stuck into with the loader.


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Cab and Layout

The cab has been completely redesigned and is where the most noticeable changes have been made. MGX model Kubota's now feature the largest cab on the market in this horsepower bracket. The centre pillar on the side has also been removed to improve access and visibility.

The overall height has also been increased slightly and the removal of the air conditioning from the roof has increased head room. A glass roof panel in the front of the cab gives excellent visibility for loader work and provides plenty of natural light. One of the first things those of you familiar with Kubota machines will notice is that they've done away with the cream-coloured plastic and upholstery that featured heavily in older model cab tractors. The sleek new grey dash and operator's console gives the cab a much cleaner, open feel.

The controls are well-organised and user-friendly, with most being easy to access on the right-hand console, although a few controls - the four-wheel drive and diff lock controls for example - remain on the dash where they can be hidden by the angle of the steering wheel. There is plenty of space for them on the right hand side and they would be better there.

What I'm really impressed with is that Kubota has managed to include more commonly used controls, such as the hand throttle, three point linkage, engine rpm presets and power-shift up and down, into the right-hand arm rest of the seat making them very easy and comfortable to use.

An easy-to-read LCD screen is built into the right-hand console which displays information such as forward speed, PTO speed, fuel consumption and a clock. Another LCD screen on the dash displays information like the selected gear and engine hours.

Engine

The power for the M110GX model comes from the V3800 Kubota engine, which is a compact four-cylinder 3.8-litre turbocharged common rail unit that uses a combination of Exhaust Gas Recirculation and a Diesel Particulate Filter Muffler to meet tier four emission standards. Thankfully it still boasts plenty of power and decent fuel economy.

This is the same engine that has been found in many of Kubota's models around this size for a while now and my experiences have all been positive so far; the engines proving reliable and efficient with plenty of power. Testament to this is the fact that Kubota is now the largest manufacture of engines under 100hp in the world. Although on the day I didn't really have time or resource to test the engine to its limits, it still had plenty of power to dig into the pile of soil filling the bucket and to climb up the side of the pile.

The Kubota uses an electronic engine management system to give you impressive control over the engine. There is an engine rev limiter control dial to set the maximum engine rpm, as well as two engine rpm presets that can be set and recalled by the operator. A Work Kruise setting can be turned on or off and uses an electronic governor to keep the engine output constant under changing circumstances, helping maintain a constant PTO or forward speed. Power boost on the engine kicks in when required, but can also be turned off with a switch in the cab. The fuel tank boasts a massive 190-litre capacity, which I'm sure will prove more than enough to keep the tractor working even on the longest days.

Transmission

The transmission set-up that Kubota has run with for these models is a 24 x 24 Intelli-Shift Transmission that has three ranges; high, mid and low. Along with neutral these are selected with the main shuttle-type gear-shifter on the right, with the clutch required to shift between these ranges. There are then eight power-shift gears in each of the ranges that can be changed with plus and minus buttons on either the main range shift-lever or on the arm rest.

I found this arrangement worked well; it was smooth and very easy to use when using the loader to shift soil. I had the tractor in the mid-range starting in a lower gear for digging into the heap, then changing up though the gears to move to where I was dumping the soil. The only extra thing that would be nice to see is gear-shift buttons on the loader joystick as well.

To take full advantage of these eight power-shift gears, the tractor also has an Auto Mode with travel and field settings. In the travel mode the tractor will change up and down automatically as it accelerates or comes under load climbing a hill, for example. The field mode works similarly, changing up and down to maintain a preset speed as the power requirement changes because of ground conditions or a slope. It will also down-shift two gears when the three-point linkage is raised to make turning on the headland easier. I didn't get to try this out on the day, but I can see a lot of merit in this set-up.

PTO and Hydraulics

The tractor has a live independent PTO with hydraulic wet clutch. It was smooth and easy to engage with a knob on the right hand console, although I never had anything hooked up to it. Disappointingly it is only a two-speed PTO with selectable 540 and 100 rpm. I'm a fan of 540 eco and thought it would have been included on a tractor this size. The hydraulic system uses a gear-driven pump that has decent output of around 70-litres-per-minute, which gives the three-point linkage a lift capacity of a little over four ton with two large external lift cylinders. There are two rear remotes with float as standard, with options for two more. They all feature an individual flow control valve. The hydraulic system provided plenty of capacity to power the loader quickly.

Loader

The M110GX I tested was fitted with an LA2254 loader that Kubota prides itself on building in-house to suit the tractor. This comes standard with a Euro Hitch and hydraulic self-levelling that, like most Kubota models, can be turned on and off to suit the job at hand.

An interesting point of difference on the loader is that the lift rams connect to the main frame with a locking pin that has two positions; the lower hole will give the loader more lifting power for tasks such as digging, whilst the upper hole gives a greater lift height for stacking bales.

In the past I have found Kubota loaders very quick and easy to get on and off the tractor. Stands are incorporated in the front of the loader to support it, and then there are just two pins and the hoses to uncouple to remove. Kubota Shockless Ride, a hydraulic quick coupler and third service come as options that in my opinion are well worth the extra.

Manoeuvrability

If you've ever read an article about a Kubota before, no doubt you will have heard plenty of praise for just how manoeuvrable they are. It really is astonishing how tight the turning circle is; this can be attributed to a couple of original ideas from Kubota. Firstly the bevel-gear front axle (that has featured in Kubota tractors for many years now) does away with the double universal joint found in most other tractors, allowing for a sharper wheel turning angle. Secondly the more recently applied Bi-Speed turning function helps. This feature works by speeding up the front wheels of the tractor when they exceed a 35 degree turning angle, resulting in a much tighter turn. While it will be great in many tight situations I personally found the system a bit clunky when it kicked in and thought it annoying to have on all the time.

The beauty of Bi-Speed though is there is a switch in the cab so it can be turned on and off when required.

Verdict

Kubota has been building tractors for quite some time now and over the years have produced various models that have been well-designed and hugely popular.

Overall I was very impressed with these models. I think they have really upped their game and will challenge the 100 to 130hp market. Features like the electronic engine management, eight speed automatic power-shift transmissions and the massive redesigned cab means that the Kubota stacks up very well against competitors, while still maintaining a sharp price.

The Kubota road show has been an excellent way to showcase these new models, allowing potential buyers to actually sit in the tractor and experience it for themselves.

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