Review: JCB Fastrac 8330 tractor

By: Harrison Hunkin

Presented by

The fact the JCB Fastrac 8330 can go 70km/h is ridiculous. Harrison Hunkin was determined to find out more in his review

The impressive JCB Fastrac is many things. It’s striking, burley, powerful, and… fast. One thing Britain’s incumbent king of tractors isn’t, however, is boring.

For example, have you ever seen a JCB Fastrac drag race a PeeWee80 motorcycle? No, we doubt you have. And had we not recently conjured up this crazy idea for our TV show Mighty Machines, the world would have been starved of such an un-boring spectacle, so thank us later.

ENGINE

But before the drag race, a ‘serious’ test review of the Fastrac 8330 was needed. Having never driven a JCB before, I was more than happy to spend an extra day getting to know this machine. Tested at a farm about 40 minutes west of Toowoomba, the Fastrac we had was the flagship 8330 model – the largest and most powerful JCB tractor ever made.

Under the bonnet, the Fastrac 8330 uses the well-known 8.4-litre Agco Power engine that pushes out 348hp (260kW) and 1,440Nm of torque. We had no complaints with the engine in our time with the Fastrac 8330; it was slick, powerful and responsive thanks to its twin turbos, which gave it acceleration like no other tractor we’ve ever driven and a top speed like no other as well.

As most farmers and readers would be aware, the JCB Fastrac 8330 is currently the fastest production tractor in the world, with a top speed of 70km/h. But what’s impressive is how relaxed and at ease the Fastrac is when at that speed – and that is a big tick.

Tier 4 Final requirements and emission standards are met thanks to selective catalytic reduction and diesel oxidation catalysts emission control systems.

The JCB Fastrac 8330 has a huge 8.7-litre Agco-Power engine
For Mighty Machines, the JCB Fastrac was pitted against a PeeWee80 motorcycle

TRANSMISSION

The Fastrac tractor range uses a continuously variable transmission with three main operating modes, Drive, Manual and PowerShift. As this is the 8000 series Fastrac, our test machine was using the 70km/h box compared to the 60km/h transmission variant found in the 8000 series little brother, the 4000 series.

Getting the machine to move is easy enough and is done via a combination of button presses on the pillar-mounted touch screen monitor and the joystick controller.

Breaking down the three operating modes, the first and most commonly used will be ‘Drive’ mode – and it’s essentially like driving an automatic car. Use ‘Drive’ mode for transport work or paddock bashing.

Simply press the ‘D’ button on the monitor and the tractors’ forward speed is controlled by the accelerator pedal. Operators can also choose between three acceleration response settings while in ‘Drive’ mode.

The second operating mode is ‘Manual’. This operating mode allows the operator to control and toggle between the forward speeds via the joystick controller on the armrest. Simply push the joystick to the right and the tractor’s speed with increase in increments, while pulling it to the left decreases speed. This is great for tillage work.

The final operating mode is straight forward. PowerShift mode essentially allows the operator to move between the speeds and range ratios like in a traditional Powershift transmission tractor. Speeds and range changes are performed by tapping the joystick right or left. The Powershift model has 15 speeds for fieldwork and 10 speeds for road use – perfect for the farmers who want to feel like they’re still working hard.

Inside JCB Fastrac 8330 Command Plus cabin
The Command Plus cab is one of the largest on the market

OPERATOR ENVIRONMENT AND COMFORT

Yes, when you read the nameplate on the bonnet it reads ‘Fast’Trac and that’s its big marketing point, but the Fastrac’s selling point is its comfort, as you won’t want to go fast in this thing without being comfortable.

This ‘comfort’ we speak of has something to do with its unconventional mid-mounted cabin, which JCB calls the Command Plus. Unlike the conventional tractor, the Fastrac has famously opted against a cabbed machine that sits upon its rear tyres, instead favouring a four-pillar cab that is situated in-between the front and the rear wheels. This truck-like cabin design coupled with all-round suspension makes for a truly impressive ride.

In regards to the operator environment… well it isn’t the fanciest on the market, but it’s certainly serviceable and user- friendly. JCB has opted for a simple, no-fuss look featuring grey solid plastics that are well put together.

Interestingly, we were told by Aussie distributor JCB CEA that it will offer the Fastrac 8000 series with the leather seat (which rotates 70 degrees) as standard. There is also a cool box under the dicky seat to keep your lunch fresh.

But, by far the best thing about the Fastrac’s cabin is its visibility. The Command Plus cab is one of the largest on the market and uses ‘forward-raked’ A-pillars to make the doorways bigger and increase the interior spaciousness.

At a time when operator safety and fatigue management is an essential selling point, the JCB has hit the nail on the head with its Command Plus cab.

Harry next to the JCB Fastrac and the PeeWee80 for Mighty Machines TV
With a top speed of 70km/h, this is one speedy tractor – a true Mighty Machine

HYDRAULICS, LINKAGE & PTO

At the rear, the Fastrac is a pretty good draft horse. It features Category III rear hitches and has a rear lift capacity of 10 tonnes. At the front JCB says it will carry 3.5 tonnes.

The Fastrac also has a substantial load deck situated behind the cab, which can be used to carry ballast weights ranging from 900kg to 1,600kg to improve traction.

Power take-off (PTO) speeds are fairly standard on the Fastrac. There is a 540E and 1,000 rpm and an optional front PTO at 1,000 rpm, as well as electric raise and lower engagement.

The in-cab armrest features the now typical colour-coded mechanical spool levers to control the machine’s hydraulics, which has a flowrate of 137L/min, with the option of boosting that up to 178L/min.

Harry delivering the JCB Fastrac for the big drag race
It’s a thumbs up from this reviewer

CONCLUSION

In summary, the JCB Fastrac is a British-built tractor that has a top speed of 70km/h, fantastic comfort and isn’t boring.

But that shouldn’t surprise anyone because JCB has been making impressive machines for a very long time.

The UK was once a manufacturing juggernaut, producing the world’s greatest machines that worked as both innovative feats and style icons.

However, the old names are now few. Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Mini are now German, MG is Chinese. Land Rover and Jaguar are Indian, while Vauxhall is now French.

Aston Martin and McLaren are arguably all that’s left of the British manufacturing icons, but I think it’s only right that Lord Bamford and his ‘very’ British JCB sits amongst them.

JCB Fastrac 8330                      

Engine

Six-cylinder 8.4L Tier 4 Agco engine

Max Power

348hp (260kW)

Max torque

1,440Nm

Fuel tank cap

600L

Trans

70km/h CVT

Max lift cap

10,000kg

Max hyd output

137L/min

PTO

540rpm, 1,000rpm

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