Japanese farm buggy builder Kubota has launched a brace of smaller petrol models to sit alongside its existing RTV900 diesel.
The RTV400ci and RTV500 models are built on a new compact chassis and look almost identical – the only thing that sets them apart is the glittery silver eyeliner around the 500’s googly headlights.
But peal off the plastics and they’re quite different beasts. The RTV500 is the more business-like of the two and comes with Kubota’s own 16hp, two-cylinder petrol engine. This has an electronic fuel injection system, liquid cooling and it’s pretty smooth.
The RTV500 is also fitted with a two-speed hydrostatic driveline that’s similar to the one bolted in the bigger RTV900 diesel. It seems considerably more responsive, though, and when you put your foot down it takes off with a reasonable degree of urgency.
The cheaper RTV400ci comes with a single-cylinder, air-cooled Subaru block that sounds a bit more lawnmower-like than its brother. But it’s higher revving and it also manages to churn out 16hp.
Kubota has ditched the hydrostatic drive, through, and given it a new belt-type CVT driveline. This makes it the nippiest of the lot - standing on the throttle kicks it straight into action and quickly reaches top speed.
Slowing down is also quite impressive thanks to a nifty engine braking system. This uses an inertial clutch that engages when the driver takes his foot off the pedal. It’s pretty effective, too, and makes steep descents a little less hairy. The drive belt also looks to be well sealed so it shouldn’t get clogged with crud.
The rest of the two buggies’ specs are pretty similar. Both have a locking rear differential, selectable four-wheel drive and a top speed of 40kph. They also have a fairly tough, tipping load bay, a proper bench seat and disc brakes all round.
There’s just one slight problem - the biggest attraction of a farm buggy is the fact you can run it on red diesel. The RTV400ci and RTV500 still leave you trundling off to your local BP forecourt with a truck full of jerrycans.
Both models are available now. The RTV400ci costs £7,800 and the RTV500 is £8,800.