IT’S NOT so much that it has a telescopic loader or a backhoe which makes the Manihoe interesting, it’s the fact that both these items are combined in the same machine.

Introduced at this year’s SED event, the MLB 625T is a concept which could find favour with both construction and agricultural industries.

Conversely, it could find favour with neither, such is its radical format.

The point is that it is a hybrid machine with mixed parenthood – the front-end loader is Manitou and the rear-end backhoe New Holland.

The boom is the same as used by Manitou on its 628 loader and, as such, has a lift height of 5.2m and a lift capacity of 2.5t.

At the business end a quick-attach system can be specified to allow most types of attachment to be fitted – a list which includes, of course, muck forks, bale handling spikes, pallet forks and the usual range of buckets.

With a backhoe lumped on the back of the machine, and access needed to operate it, Manitou has had to apply some thought to engine placement.

The company has created two pods – one each side of the boom – which, looking from the front, give the machine a rather bulbous appearance.

In the left-hand bay is a 100hp 4-cylinder Perkins engine which drives through a four-speed box with clutchless shuttle for forward and reverse. Transverse engine placement means maintenance access from either side is good.

In the right-hand bay are radiators for the transmission, hydraulic oil, air conditioning and engine, plus tanks for fuel and hydraulic oil.

A hydraulically driven fan draws air in through the radiators and blows it out beneath the machine – there is no air draught across the engine in the other bay.

From this point rearward, the build is sourced from New Holland.

A spacious cab with ample glass provides a comfortable environment for the operator – much roomier than cabs normally associated with telescopic loaders.

In the control department, the gear stick and boom controls are to the right of the driver and the shuttle lever mounted on the steering column to the left.

Boom raise and bucket crowd are on the same lever with electro-hydraulic buttons on the side for boom extend/retract and external services.

Twisting around in the seat to the backhoe operating position, one discovers generous of legroom.

Backhoe controls – twin levers with diagonal activation – fall easily to hand, as does the hand-throttle on the right hand fender.

A pedal operates the jib extension and, while not on this pre-production machine, a service line will be available to power ancillary equipment.

So how does the Manihoe perform?

The first point to note is the balance of the machine which, with the backhoe at one end and the loader at the other feels about as right as it can for an 8.8t machine.

Using the loader around buildings could cause some concern due to the backhoe’s 3m folded height, which is just asking to connect with a low roof joist or some guttering.

Having said that, operating the loader in the open or in large buildings does not pose a problem. It is also worth noting that the lift height of the Manihoe is significantly higher than most conventional backhoe loaders although the price is for a slightly larger machine overall.

Lowering the boom and raising the rear of the machine on its legs brings the backhoe into action.

Operation is both predictable and supremely functional. Maximum digging depth for this sideshift unit is 4-6m when the jib is fully extended – and tearout force is rated at 6.2t.

Time will tell how the Manihoe is accepted by the industry. Prices have yet to be confirmed but are expected to be in the region of £48,000.