Kubota M7-2 tractor review

By: Harrison Hunkin & Jaiden Drought

Presented by

The new Kubota M7-2 tractor gets a thorough testing by the lads at a farm in Queensland

The New Kubota M7-2 working
The second-generation Kubota M7-172 Premium, the Japanese brand’s latest mid-horsepower tractor

•            Comfortable, well laid-out cab

•            Quiet four-cylinder large displacement engine

•            Improved ZF transmission

In an industry filled with brand loyalty, many Asian countries have gallantly tried but ultimately failed to break the global tractor market. Except one – Kubota.

Kubota has long been the pin-up girl you could say for the Asian tractor market. Thanks to Jack Russel-like tenacity, Kubota has successfully become a thorn in the side of both the Europeans and the Americans.

This has a lot to do with its ever-improving high horsepower range. Building on its long-running success in its small equipment options, the latest M7-2 range of tractors is starting to make some serious inroads here in Australia and New Zealand.

SWEET (ORANGE) TRACTOR

This issue’s Kubota M7-2 test took us to the glorious Sunshine Coast in Queensland. It was a strawberry farm that was ironically filled with oranges (tractors).

Humid conditions resembled a sauna, but the farmer had seen some much-needed rain – one-metre in fact – so the Kubota had some sandy soil to compete with.

The test tractor was the second-generation Kubota M7-172 Premium, the Japanese brand’s latest mid-horsepower tractor. It’s a striking machine, Kubota machines always are, with the bold orange paint job contrasting nicely against the green field. However, it looks very familiar?

That’s because the new M7-2 hasn’t really received any cosmetic changes. The main difference between the new M7-2 and its previous model is its extra spec levels. You now have four options, the Standard, Deluxe (new), Premium and the Premium KVT.

We can’t say it really bothers us, there is plenty to like about the M7-2 which we will get to; however a negative to this lack of physical change is the bragging rights. A fantastic looking ride, but how can one expect to showboat to thy neighbour?

Picture this, you’re humming up the road with your fresh Kubota M7-2 but your neighbour would merely think you’ve finally polished the bonnet of the old one.

This 4-cylinder Kubota engine has 168 horsepower
Under the bonnet is a punchy four-cylinder Kubota engine that pushes out 168hp

ENGINE

Enough aesthetics – let’s get to the fun stuff. Under the bonnet, the latest Kubota uses its very own four-cylinder, tier 4 final engine that pushes out a maximum 168 horsepower (125kW) plus a 5hp (3.7kW) boost.

A reliable engine, the Kubota is able to reach tier 4 final from the perky four cylinders using the usual diesel particulate filter (DPF), exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) wizardry. 

Displacement-wise, the Kubota engine is a 6.1L powerplant, which is why this four-cylinder keeps up with many of its six-cylinder competitors. We found this so on the day when using a Kuhn rotary hoe in a very boggy field.

Conditions resembled quicksand, as you could expect when that loose fruit/veggie soil gets smashed with a metre of rain, however, the Kubota just plugged along nicely. It never complained, it never threw a tantrum of noise, it was so quiet when working we thought we hadn’t dropped the hoe in the ground.

Safe-to-say, that four-cylinder has some go!

TRANSMISSION

The new M7-2s use ZF transmissions. Being the Premium machine, we had the semi-powershift trans which we found quite impressive.

Unlike the previous M7 Kubotas, the new models feature a much smoother six-speed, five-range box that also included creeper gears, giving it a further 24 gears.

We found the six powershifts in each range to be more than capable, especially when we were combatting changes in soil conditions. Shifts are simply made by pushing up or down on the hand-controller.

The tractor we tested was a 50km/h variant, which offers front suspension and auto shifting capabilities. Personally, we felt the auto-shift suited better while working in the field than when driving on the road, a slight lag between ranges was a bit niggly.

Inside the Kubota M7-2 interior
The ZF transmission is a quality box

CABIN

First up, the upgraded seat on this new M7-2 was a big positive. It was comfortable, well-made and easily adjustable for operators of any height. This seat combined with the easy-reaching armrest is a key addition to this machine.

It’s worth pointing out that the day we drove this machine, the mercury tipped out at 35 degrees Celsius, and don’t forget the humidity, so we treated this cabin like a shrine. With the aircon at full-whack and the engine quietly going about its business, this is a cabin you’d happily work in for days on end. Many competitors could take note.

HYDRAULICS, LINKAGE & PTO

Kubota has boosted its hydraulics, increasing pump flow from 80L/min to a very impressive 110L/min, which is sure to increase work capacity and please spec freaks.

Combine this with the five rear spools and a 9.4 tonne lift capacity and it has more than enough to lug around any kit you have lying around your ranch.

Power take-off-wise, the M7 comes with four speeds, 540/1000 and associated eco modes.

The test model wasn’t fitted with front linkage; however, this can be optioned on all specification models along with Kubota’s own LM series loader as an optional extra.

The Kubota M7-2 on the road
This Kubota M7-2 is a fantastic looking rig

SUMMARY

The Europeans and Americans should be worried about Kubota’s M7-2 range of tractors. We think many will be surprised with what it offers.

What’s next for Kubota – the anticipated M8? Perhaps not for a while, so this sleek, comfortable underdog from Japan with a strong history of reliability, the M7-2, certainly keeps the brand at the pointy end of tractor making.

 

PLUSES

•            Comfortable, well laid-out cab

•            Quiet four-cylinder large displacement engine

•            Improved ZF transmission

•            Top-notch suspension package

•            Huge touchscreen monitor

•            Well-built with a five-year warranty

 

MINUSES

•            Sensitive clutch

•            Not too different from the predecessor

•            Rear guards vibrated a bit at low speed

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