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.

Kubota RTV400ci & RTV500
RTV400ci RTV500
Engine One-cylinder, air-cooled Subaru petrol with electronic fuel injection Two-cylinder, liquid cooled Kubota petrol with electronic fuel injection
Power 16hp 15.8hp
Transmission CVT with inertial clutch Hydrostatic
Payload 480kg 430kg
Towing capacity 500kg 500kg
Width 1390mm 1390mm
Height 1829m 1829m
Length 2690mm 2690mm
Turning circle 7m 7m
Price £7,800 £8,800

  • Kubota's range of RTV farm buggies
    Kubota’s range of RTV farm buggies
  • Kubota RTV400ci and RTV500
    The new RTV400ci and RTV500
  • Kubota RTV500
    Both buggies have a fairly tough load bay
  • Kubota RTV500 headlights
    The 500’s silver headlight surrounds are its only distinguishing feature
  • Kubota RTV500
    The RTV500 has got a hydrostatic transmission and two-cylinder petrol engine
  • Kubota RTV400ci
    The RTV400ci has got a CVT transmission and single-cylinder Subaru petrol engine
  • Kubota RTV500 dash
    Both buggies have the same basic-but-functional dashboard

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