Yanmar has taken the plunge into the small but intense Irish compact tractor market to compete with the many marques already fighting for sales in a relatively minor segment.
There is a terrific volume of these smaller tractors produced worldwide, so it should be no surprise that the companies producing them look to western markets as a further outlet for their products.
In such a scenario any manufacturer dipping their toe in these waters will need to offer a product that has something to offer, that goes above and beyond what is already available, be it specific features or a level of quality.
Yanmar has recently done just that with the appointment of O’Regan Plant Sales, Watergrasshill, Co. Cork as dealers for the tractor range in Ireland.
The company can now offer the full range of Yanmar machinery products including diggers, dumpers and, from this month, compact tractors.
The Yanmar engine division is part of the same company but is run separately and so has a different global distribution network.
The compact tractor range constitutes five models ranging from 22hp to 60hp, all powered, naturally, by Yanmar diesel engines of either two or three cylinders.
All have hydrostatic transmission with a synchromesh box available on the two larger models, along with many other options across the entire range.
It is this list of options which sets the brand apart from others. Although manufactured in Japan, the tractors are brought across to the Netherlands for final assembly to the customer’s requirements.
At this stage, a myriad of choices can be made as to what may be fitted to the base four-wheel-drive unit.
These include such favourites as fully enclosed cab and lighting kits, to front end linkage/PTO, mid mounted PTO and mowing decks.
There is also a choice of tyres including the intermediate ‘industrial’ type as well as the usual turf or agricultural patterns.
Yanmar built to order
All these options are fitted to a basic skid unit that appears sturdy enough to cope with many years work.
Of particular note is the bodywork which has a feeling of solidity about it often absent in tractors of this type.
The bonnet will flex when open, but it doesn’t twist in the wind, likewise the mudguards have a rolled-over edge that adds a great deal of strength and rigidity to them.
They can probably be sat upon without ill effect and the overall impression is one of Yanmar not having skimped to save weight or cost in this department.
Level of finish
The only possible fly in the ointment is the colour. This year Yanmar adopted an attractive red as its corporate livery and all new equipment will have this finish. Quite how it will fare in strong sunlight is a question yet to be answered.
The cabs are also well appointed in relative terms, with a fully opening front window and a quality to the sound proofing material which suggests that it wont split or rip open if the operator is not ultra careful.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to test the tractors in working conditions, yet driving them in the confines of the yard gave an immediate impression of manoeuvrability.
Describing the turning circle in numbers probably wouldn’t convey just how tight it is, it really feels quite remarkable for a four-wheel-drive tractor of any size, thanks, no doubt, to the small front wheels.
Response to the direction pedals was progressive and although equipped with a two-stage transmission, top speeds are never going to break any records, yet it felt planted and secure in its handling.
A factory fitted front end loader is another option and this in turn was a joy to use.
Being basic machines, there were no electronics interposed between the control lever and hydraulics, yet it was pleasingly smooth and responsive with precise control being possible.
There are also pleasing touches like a holder for the hitch pin right next to the hitch and the tool for opening the bonnet sat neatly on the wing.
Priced in the middle ground
Altogether the tractors appear to be sound and well thought out machines. There is no issue with the ability of Yanmar engines which are already found under the bonnet of many other loaders and diggers.
The company, which has been producing compact tractors for 50 years now, has already established itself as a serious contender in the Irish construction industry and it is looking to do so in the amenity and agricultural sectors.
The 22hp model, fitted with rear hitch and ROPS, starts at €16,000 + VAT, which is a modest price if not the cheapest out there. That alone should garner interest from estate and stable owners, although they are initially targeted at the amenity sector.
On this showing the tractors will have no problem in settling into a niche between eastern imports and branded units from the major manufacturers.