First Drive: Kubota M108S

Like all tractor manufacturers, Kubota has to comply with dreaded Tier III emissions regulations.

As it says on the tin, the 108hp M108-S has slightly more ponies under the bonnet than its predecessor, the 105hp M105-S.

That modest jump in power is a result of some clever, cleaner engine technology.

Electronically-controlled common-rail fuel injection makes its debut alongside an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system.

This aims to reduce emissions by diverting a percentage of exhaust gases through a cooler and then returning them to the combustion chambers, where the cooled gases minimise temperatures and hamper nitrogen oxide formation.

Other parts of the tractor have also been given a makeover. Four wheel braking, a wider cab and a stylish new nose have all added to the upgrade.

Kubota M108S Images

PERFORMANCE: Kubota M108S

Kubota M108S


Likes

  • Simple, straightforward controls
  • Ground clearance
  • Tight turning circle
  • Mechanical external linkage control

Dislikes

  • Cab noise
  • Poor loader visibility
  • Driving position
  • Sticky spool levers

Bale-loading is not the most strenuous of jobs, but the Kubota easily handled all that was asked of it.

The engine is keen to get going and throttle response is so impressive it feels like it’s a V8 Mustang motor that’s hidden under the hood.

Equally, hydraulic performance is strikingly rapid, enabling fast cycle times even with a couple of hefty 6ft bales on the forks. The cable-controlled joystick is so slick andaccurate, it would impress Harley Street’s finest surgeons.That said, knocking the spool valves out of float requires a rabbit punch like Mike Tyson’s.

Kubota M108S on Youtube

TRANSMISSION: Kubota M108S

The main gear lever handles four manual changes and a stubby stick to the left of the seat swaps between high and low ranges, making for eight straightforward speeds.

A simple, button-operated splitter halves each gear for on-the-move speed changes.

Clutchless direction changes are made with a column-mounted shuttle – simple so far.

What muddies the water is Kubota’s “Swing Shift” function. Knocking the main lever out of gear and tapping it to the left initiates a further range change, making for a total of 32 forward and 32 reverse speeds.

In operation, this complex, electro-hydraulically controlled set-up seems like an unnecessary complication. In effect, it just replicates the manual range change without extending the working speed range and complicates the engineering set-up in the process.

CAB: Kubota M108S

Although small, the cab feels airy but there’s very little room for a toolbox let alone the dog. Visibility to the loader from the cab is limited, thanks to a low roof lining and lack of top window.

But the biggest fault is the uncomfortable driving position caused by a lack of in-out adjustment of the steering column. This results in either using your knees to guide the tractor or having the seat set in a position that you’d normally adopt in a go-cart.

Hitching up pto-powered implements proves bit of a problem.

SERVICING: Kubota M108S

The one-piece bonnet allows excellent engine access, even with loader brackets attached. Although removing clogged debris from the main rad isn’t that easy unless you have a contortionist on hand.For those that would rather lie on the sofa with Farmers Weekly than under a tractor with a grease gun, then Kubota’s clever, UJ-free front-axle will appeal.

Verdict: Kubota M108S

Kubota M108S Profile

Rated Power 108.5Hp
Engine 4-Cylinder Kubota common rail turbo
Transmission 32F/ 32R, 4 manual changers with cluthless splitter and shuttle
Hyraulics 65-litres/min
Linkage lift 2.7t, Cat II
Tractor weight 4060Kg
Turning radius 4.7m
Loader lift height 3.7m
Loader capacity 1.9t
Service intervals 200hrs
Price £29,500 (loader £48000)

The M108-S’s pokey engine and tight turning circle make it a great little mover in the field and yard. Eradicating some of the cab problems would allow a better driving position and a more comfortable drive. The lack of pto free-wheel certainly needs to be addressed to allow safer, easier implement hitch-up.

If it’s a straightforward, compact, manoeuvrable tractor you’re after, then you won’t go far wrong with Kubota’s latest offering.

Rivals: Kubota M108S

John Deere 6220 SE MF 5455 McCormick CX105 New Holland TL100A
105hp 100hp 102hp 102hp
£38,105 £36,971 £27,934 £30,114