WITH OVER 40% of global sales in the sub-40hp bracket, it”s fair to say that Kubota is firmly committed to the compact tractor market.But the European launch of the 105hp M105s signifies the firm”s intention to capture a greater slice of the agricultural market.

Undoubtedly some will say the M105s is a glorified garden tractor, but the reality is quite different.

The first point is the engine – a 3.8-litre, liquid cooled, turbocharged unit – made entirely by Kubota.

Operating the loader in a heap of road chippings, the engine grunts away. Then the turbo kicks in and it really begins to sing. Keeping revs up ensures the machine stays on top of the job.

Loader work is bound to form a pivotal task for this mid-sized tractor and in that department Kubota”s home-built loader performed to a fair standard. The tractor”s hydraulic pump propels oil at 65 litres/min – enough to give the loader plenty of grunt, but quite not enough to allow multi-operational manoeuvres – lifting and tilting simultaneously.

Technophobes will be comfortable in the driving seat of an M105s. The most complicated gadgetry is the two-stage powershift button on the gear stick. The lift arms, hydraulics, 4WD and diff-lock controls are all old fashioned levers, and can be fixed with a spanner and hammer.

Despite its mechanical orientation, the cab does not lack sophistication. Fitted with air conditioning and a CD stereo system, it also boasts an air suspension seat.

Visibility is plentiful, even with the loader fitted. One point worth noting is how close the driver is to the rear window, good for rearward views, not so good for the elbows.

A 32F/32R transmission is fitted as standard. This can be increased to 48F/48R with the optional creeper box. On the main gear stick there are four gears with a dual stage powershift button.

High and low ranges are also selected via the main lever – knocking it to the left while in neutral selects the required speed.

A further two-speed mechanical doubler is to the operator”s left-hand side.

The transmission also includes a column-mounted clutchless hydraulic shuttle. This proves its worth for loader work, a real time saver.

In haulage the M105s is surprisingly nippy and using the dual speed powershift through the gears gets you up to a top speed of 40kph without difficulty.

On the downside, tractor weight is only 3.9t, so heavy loads can boss the tractor about a bit.

It is also worth noting that 4wd must be engaged to activate four-wheel braking. Consequently, the driver has to choose between decent brakes or listening to the whine from the transmission in 4wd at 40kph.

Perhaps not a prime arable workhorse, the M105s is more suited to mixed farming applications where a range of duties are required.

With an entry price of 28,500, it can certainly hold its own in the ever more competitive 100hp+ sector.

charlie.mccarron@rbi.co.uk