Replacing Fendt's top-selling 820 was never going to be easy. It's the tractor of choice for contractors and medium/large-scale farms.
In fact - despite its price - it's the best-selling tractor in Germany and one of the most popular Fendt models in the UKP>Stepping in to fill the gap left by the 820 are three new models - the 720, 722 and 724 Vario, which span the 200-240hp bracket.Interestingly, Fendt now has three ranges around the 200hp+ mark.
The key difference is weight - there's around 1t difference between the 700, 800 and 900 Varios, explains Fendt UK area manager Ben Agar."Customers have to choose the weight, chassis and road speed to determine the model that suits their farming system," he adds.
"The idea is to allow customers to opt for a lightweight tractor and then add weight to it."Packed under the petite bonnet (more akin to that of a mid-sized 150hp tractor) is 220hp, giving the 722 a power-to-weight ratio of 33kg/hp. If there's more weight on a tractor than required, it's like throwing fivers out the cab.".
Despite weighing in at a modest 7,900kg, it's possible to bulk this compact tractor up to a not insubstantial 12,500kg - and more if that's not enough.
That's like bulking up featherweight champion Barry McGuigan overnight to fight heavyweights like Mike Tyson - good when it comes to reducing compaction and fuel efficiency but perhaps not so simple in practice.In the fieldWe found it a little tricky to ballast it up as much as needed.
Putting a six-furrow Dowdeswell plough on the back, albeit with a 1t weight on the front, made it like steer a dinghy with the aforementioned Mike Tyson firmly planted at the rear. To be fair, Fendt didn't know we were going to plough with it.Wheel weights and a more substantial front weight pack would have made a difference.
Despite the lightweight characteristics, however, the 722 certainly was certainly not lacking in torque - easily managing the plough and seven-leg subsoiler we used in varying Warwickshire soils.
With the plough, we set up the headland management system in a matter of minutes to give one-touch headland turns. And Fendt's Tractor Management System (TMS) - once we'd found it on the right-hand console - calmed the revs to a peaceful 1,700rpm.
On the road
There's no denying the new 700 is a confident road performer with a positive 50kph box and startlingly smooth suspension over even the most potholed of roads.
Choose from joystick or pedal control (there's another of those buttons on the right-hand console) and everything can be done by hand or foot.
The length of the tractor really comes into its own here - making it as easy to manoeuvre as a nimble-footed Strictly Come Dancing performer.
Like most new ranges the Fendt 700 gets a new low-emissions engine.This 6.06-litre six-cylinder Deutz powerplant is fitted with SCR technology (so you have to fill the AdBlue every other diesel refill), which gives the stack its characteristically large cylindrical shape due to housing the catalysts inside the exhaust manifold.
While the outgoing model was criticised for its dated and somewhat cramped cab, the new VisioPlus cab in the 700 gets acres more glass and a lot more space.
The curved screen not only gives the driver an uninterrupted view, but complete vision of a front loader (which German farmers with biogas plants frequently use on this size of tractor).T
he range also gets the same right-hand armrest used in the new 800 and 900 ranges, along with seven-inch Variotronic screen and multi-function joystick, meaning all tractors of this hp and above now have a common operating platform.
More cubbyholes, a new fridge unit and enough room for two dogs and a passenger make the cab a much nicer place to be than the previous range.
UK buyers will get the Profi spec, with a 50kph transmission, front and cab pneumatic suspension, plus front linkage with the option of two lift capacities, 4.3t and 5t.
There's a new floating relief system on the front linkage. This gives hydraulic damping to allow implements like mowers and cultivators to follow the ground more closely.
For GPS auto, farmers need to opt for the ProfiPlus spec (which adds a cool £8,857 to the pricetag). This spec level also gives you Fendt's VarioActive fast-steer facility, whereby a single turn of the steering wheel results in a 43° turn, rather than the 27° you'd get without it engaged. ProfiPlus models also get a larger 10.4in screen.
As with all Fendt Vario transmissions, there are no clutch packs - just a pump and motor. The 720 and 722 have the same transmission as the old 820s - whereas the flagship 724 has the heavier-duty MC180 drivetrain used on the larger ranges.
Fendt admits that if buying decisions came down purely to purchasing cost, then the figures when buying a Fendt would never stack up."But purchasing decisions shouldn't be based on this - instead they should take into account the cost of ownership, residual values and finance flexibility to suit the timescale that the tractor is being bought over," explains Mr Agar.
This new 700 will go into mainline production from the beginning of this month in Marktoberdorf, Bavaria and Fendt UK says that order books are already full until the end of the year.
- Good power-to-weight ratio
- Roomy and sophisticated cab
- Intuitive controls (once you've worked out the icons)
- Ride comfort
- Complex and fiddly hydraulic couplings
- Still a bit baffling to new drivers so good installation by dealer necessary
- High price