Quad bikes are wonderful things, but what if there’s more than one of you wanting to take a ride? Or you need to carry something bulky but don’t want to have to hook on a trailer?


The answer to both questions could well be a farm buggy, also known as a side-by-side or utility vehicle. Though many of the current designs started life as either a golf cart or a parks-and-gardens-style runabout, they’ve now metamorphosed into fully farm-friendly bits of kit.

The test was carried out by journalists from Farmers Weekly, France Agricole (France) and Top Agrar (Germany). All five models we chose for this test are red-diesel powered, have four-wheel drive and reasonable underbody clearance.

Gearboxes were mainly CVT belt types, though one was hydrostatic. All five models can carry about 500kg and some have either a hydraulic, electric or manual tipping mechanism. All can carry two people, with one (the Kawasaki) capable of converting to a four-seater.

However that’s where the similarities end, for the five machines’ performance, noise levels, suspension and general degree of refinement varied massively.

Watch the team put the buggies to the test

The five contenders:

* Massey Ferguson 20MD
* Kawasaki Mule 4010 Trans 4×4
* Kubota RTV 900
* John Deere Gator XUV 850D
* JCB Groundhog 4×4

The test

* Time taken to traverse a 500m track

* Hill climb with a round bale on the back and a 550kg trailer

* Ability to keep the wheels in contact with the ground, even on undulating terrain

* Noise level

* Turning circle

* Ability to soften out bumps

* Storage/build quality

* Ease of engagement of gears plus effectiveness of engine braking on downhill slopes

* Thanks to Peter Francis Coni for providing a testing ground on his Kent farm

Why change?

We took a standard issue Honda 420 along to the test to give a means of comparison between buggies and standard ATVs. Though this Honda couldn’t match the carrying capacity of any of the buggies, it’s quicker, cheaper, more agile and more fun to drive, So it’s horses for courses.

Results

To see results from the other buggies click on the link below:

Kawasaki Mule 4010 Trans 4×4 – best all-rounder

Massey Ferguson 20 MD – best handling at speed

John Deere Gator XUV 850 D

JCB Groundhog 4×4 – best load independent suspension

Kubota RTV 900 – best at braking

And for more pictures from the tests click here.

Power Farming verdict

Massey Ferguson 20MD
*** (3 stars)
Good handling at speed but the gear arrangement is awkward

Kawasaki Mule 4010 Trans 4×4
**** (4 stars)
Excellent driveability and build quality but not so good coming down hills

Kubota RTV 900
**** (4 stars)
Verdict: Robust build and good engine braking on hills (thanks to hydrostatic transmission) but there are some transmission power losses

John Deere Gator XUV 850D
**** (4 stars)
Smooth and manoeuvrable performer but lacking in space

JCB Groundhog 4×4
*** (3 stars)
Variable load coils make for a good suspension but belt slippage was a problem on hills.