REVIEW: Versatile 620 4WD Tractor

By: Tom Dickson, Photography by: Andrew Britten

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Versatile 620 visibility The Versatile 620 is an impressive beast. Versatile 620 visibility
Versatile 620 maintenance points Daily maintenance checks could not be any more accessible. Versatile 620 maintenance points
Versatile 620 under the hood Versatile 620 under the hood
Versatile 620 dealers Tom Dickson joined 50 dealers from across Australia at the Versatile’s launch. Versatile 620 dealers
Versatile 620 2 The view is amazing making the job of attaching implements easy and saving lots of valuable time. Versatile 620 2
Versatile 620 3 The Versatile 620 is a big tractor, but it’s probably one of the simplest to operate. Versatile 620 3
Versatile 620 4 Versatile 620 4

The Versatile 620 is the most powerful four-wheel drive articulated tractor in the new series currently being launched in Australia. Tom Dickson writes.

Watch the video from the launch event

A newly formed alliance between Canadian-based tractor manufacturer Versatile and Australian machinery importer and distributor Power Farming Group (PFG) Australia heralds the introduction of 13 new Versatile tractor models back into the Australian market.

Among them was the 620 which I think is like the" Ayres Rock of Tractors". We’ve all seen it in pictures but until it is seen in real life it cannot be fully appreciated.

On the day of the launch, I feel like I am back at school. I sit with about 50 dealers from across Australia in a darkened room all quietly watching a Versatile presentation and listening to Product Manager of Tractors, Ryan Shust talk about the new Versatile 620 4WD articulated tractor.

Shust’s explanation of Versatile’s current philosophy is almost exactly the same as its original one nearly 50 years ago. He says the Versatile 620 is "simple" to operate, easy to "maintain", provides terrific all-round "vision" and is a very "comfortable" environment in which to work.

"These are the key factors that give Versatile such a good name and we will not deviate away from this direction."

When I walked out to the yard to have a look and feel of the 620, I am immediately dwarfed by the magnitude of its stature. If I reach I can just touch the top of the tyres. 

 

CONTENTS

Engine

Servicing

Cab and visibility

Controls and performance

Verdict

Specifications

VERSATILE 620 ENGINE

This awesome machine is powered by a 620hp (456kW) Cummins QSX 15-litre 6 cylinder turbo charged diesel engine coupled with a Caterpillar 16-speed Powershift transmission.

The deep powerful throaty exhaust noise screams out that the 620 just wants to be hitched up to something and to start pulling. In an era when everyone is so conscious of every sort of pollution including noise pollution I still love it when I can hear the powerful sounds of a well-tuned motor.

Shust says Versatile selected the Cummins QSX 15 during the development of the HHT series to optimise the performance of the tractor. The result is an efficient and reliable high horsepower tractor that will work hard for years to come.

 The Versatile 620 has been designed to be tier 4 compatible to meet market demand so the 620 has additional ventilation at the rear of the engine to aid the system to maintain safe working temperatures. However, in Australia the tractors only need to be Tier 3 compliant so the extra cooling will well and truly prevent overheating of the engine even under the hottest and toughest conditions.

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VERSATILE 620 SERVICING

I can give you my guarantee daily maintenance checks could not be any more accessible. Fuel and hydraulic oil levels are shown by sight gauges mounted on the side of each reservoir. The air filter is mounted on the right-hand side in front of the cabin door. It can be easily removed and cleaned or replaced. 

Opening the front grille allows access to condenser /cooler package. This cooling apparatus can also be swung open to allow easy service and cleaning. An ingenious addition to the 620’s cooling system is a fan that has adjustable fins. When the engine is cold the fins run virtually flat therefore creating no resistance and minimising horsepower loss.

As the engine warms the fins automatically move to create more angle drawing more air through the radiator. Additionally the tractor computer can be set to routinely reverse the fan to blow dust back out the cooling system.

Also located behind the front grille, easily accessed, is the battery package and under that are the weights, which seems much more sensible than hanging them out the front.

It makes sense to tuck them under to bring weight distribution back to the centre of the tractor, and this ballast doesn’t need to be accessible because no-one ever changes it anyway.

Lifting up the huge side panel on either side exposes the oil filler point, oil dipstick, filters and belts. The side panels also serve as a roof over your head while working in the engine bay or carrying out service checks and even come fitted with lights to illuminate the engine area.

To minimise mechanical failure through lack of maintenance an automatic greasing applicator has been installed to routinely apply grease to all major grease points.

Apart from checking the air cleaner the only time I had to get off the ground for service is filling the mid-mount 1,514 litre fuel tank. Shust explains the benefits of a centre mounted fuel tank very simply, "The 620 has been designed to have exactly 55 per cent of total weight distributed over the front wheels and 45 per cent over rear wheels".

This means when the tractor begins to pull, more weight is transferred to the rear resulting in 50-50 weight distribution. The centre-mount tank can be anywhere between full and empty without changing this ratio meaning maximum traction all day.

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VERSATILE 620 CAB AND VISIBILITY

This is the sort of tractor that when you get in you stay in for a fair while so the climb up the ladder isn’t so bad since you won’t do it many times in a day. Shutting the huge glass door behind me takes a bit of effort because the cabin is so well sealed the air struggles to escape.

The view from up here is absolutely amazing and I don’t just mean from the sight-seeing perspective. I could not have imagined the all-round vision from this monster of a machine with eight huge wheels could have been so good.

The only place a person or obstacle would not be seen is if they stood very close, virtually touching the front of the tractor. Even the exhaust gives a minimal blind spot because it is positioned in line with the front cabin pillar.

A huge plus for me is the unobstructed vision all the way down to the drawbar and hitch point from the seat.

Good vision makes the job of attaching implements very easy, it saves lots of valuable time and doesn’t test your patience.

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VERSATILE 620 CONTROLS AND PERFORMANCE

The Versatile 620 is easily the biggest tractor I have ever driven but at the same time it is probably one of the simplest to operate.

All the controls and computer are simply positioned on the armrest, which is moulded into the air ride seat capable of swivelling within a 104-degree range. When I say simple to operate I mean very simple, any novice could be shown the basic functions in a couple of minutes and be in the field working. This is a huge benefit to an industry that is running short of skilled workers.

Once the motor is running all I do is increase revs to desired level, in this case about 1,600rpm, then grip the Powershift transmission control level mounted on the armrest and push forward and away we go.

If I push control lever forward I go forward, control lever backwards for reverse and to go through the 16 gears I press either an up or down button mounted on the side of the control lever.

Fitted to the 620 is a Caterpillar 16x4, 16 forward/4 reverse, Powershift transmission.  Gears one to eight are closely spaced for the working range then gears nine to 16 have a broader spread to reach a top speed of 40km/h.

The Caterpillar transmission is also fitted with ESP (engine stall protection). Gear change function could easily be changed to suit the task, for example if you are coming to the end of a run and are making a turn you can program the gearbox to drop three gears by pressing the down button once.

Similarly go back up three gears by pushing the up button at the completion of the turn. I know many tractors have similar capabilities but I stress again that they are very easy to use on the Versatile 620.

A radio, air-conditioning and passenger seat add to the general comfort of the tractor.

Remembering that the 620 is basically a huge pulling tractor it is available with Category IV three-point hitch and does have the option of a power take-off (PTO) drive. 

The 620 that I am driving has four standard hydraulic remotes fitted but has the option of six if required. Controlling the 200l/min system are four electo-hydraulic valve switches mounted beside the Powershift lever.

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THE VERDICT

Versatile has the claim of being the first North American manufacturer to mass-produce and market agricultural articulated 4WD tractors. Since Versatile opened 50 years ago, the plant on Clarence Avenue in Winnipeg has built over 100,000 tractors.

I can confirm the company’s continuing commitment to the design of quality tractors that are easy to service, economical to own, with built-in features that contribute to the bottom line and add to operator comfort and convenience.

VERSATILE 620 HITS

  • Looks fantastic
  • Sounds great
  • Very easy to drive
  • Uncomplicated to operate
  • Simple to maintain
  • Comfortable
  • Great vision

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VERSATILE 620 SPECIFICATIONS

MAKE/MODEL: Versatile 620

ENGINE: Cummins QSx15

PEAK HORSEPOWER: 620

TRANSMISSION: Caterpillar 16x4 Powershift

MAXIMUM SPEED: 40km/h

FUEL CAPACITY: 1,514 litres

HYDRAULICS: Closed centre load sensing system, 200 l/m, four standard remotes

ELECTRICAL SYSTEM: 3x 12-volt batteries, Battery shut off switch

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The review was initilaly published in NewFarmMachinery magazine issue 6, February 2014. For the latest farm machinery news and reviews, subscribe to NewFarmMachinery magazine.

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