31 October 1997

Deutz Agrotron 200

£tba

190hp, 7145cc, 18 x 18 gears

Test weight 7530kg

Introduced Autumn 1997

Hot from the German factory in pre-production form, the top-power Agrotron tested here has a multi-mode powershift and an electronic throttle pad. Production versions add front suspension, too.

LIKE or loathe it, you cant miss the Agrotrons shape. That big bubble cab and drop nose produce the best view of the lot; the Deere may be narrower at the waist, but its long bonnet robs more front view. And theres nothing to touch the Deutz for daylight. Being inside it is as close to being outside as you can get, especially with the big screens and roof panel open.

There are niggles, though. The rear windows dividing bar falls at the wrong height for consistent linkage view (Fendt does it better), all that glass area means using the air conditioning whenever the sun shows up, and this pre-production tractors loose trim made us wince.

Interior furniture is the same as lesser Agrotrons, right down to Playskool shapes and colours for the main console controls. At least you cant miss their groupings, though coming to them after a night on the beer could have unpredictable effects. Forward of a small steering wheel is an equally compact instrument pod, whose mixed displays and tiny warning lights are not the clearest.

Also carried through to the 200 is the Agrotron family foot-operated parking brake. Its still hopeless, especially on a hill restart in traffic.

Whats the Deutz like to drive? Starting the water-cooled 7145cc motor involves a short wait until it fires and usually triggers a tiny whining buzzer, much as though youve disturbed a rather knackered and irritable mosquito. If this is a safety warning, it should be much clearer.

Nominally a 193hp unit, the powerplant has fairly small displacement, a high 2350rpm rated speed and produced 178hp pto maximum on the test stand. Constant power is around for 23% of the upper speed range, though overpower is minimal (0.8%). Torque rise (35%) is the smallest of the bunch but still very respectable, average fuel consumption fifth highest at 252g/kWhr.

Putting the motor to work adds a bit more. Response is fast, revs picking up with a distinct turbo whistle as load lifts or more throttle is fed in. This liveliness reflects the 200s light weight, which undercuts the MF by 500kg, the Deere by 2265kg and the Cat by 4225kg. Solid power is around to 1300rpm, when it starts to fade – though not as fast as the New Holland.

In the cab, the motors efforts are almost as muted as the Deeres. Although theres more high frequency noise and levels generally build towards pto speed, the motors tune is a pleasant one and keeps the cab a good place to work.

Downstream of the engine is a Same transmission. Mixing manual and automatic control, it puts a shuttle lever alongside the steering column, a manual range stick forward of the right hand console and a stubby switch on the seat armrest. This little number (plus three buttons) controls a nine-speed powershift, with the driver reading the state of play from a comfortably visible panel in the offside door pillar.

Ratios are 18×18, with a reasonable 8 in the fieldwork range. Powershifts are smooth apart from a harder 6/7th step, and the manual range lever works well enough. But on some jobs the range changeover point proves a trial. For instance, our cultivations spanned 8-13km/hr so the 11.5km/hr changeover speed falls right in the middle. As shifting range means coming to a stop, we had either to limit forward speed or work in high range with no powershift safety net below.

The armrests mini-stick controls ratios in a logical forward-for-faster, back-for-slower way. Three transmission modes come in with the armrest buttons – manual, Eco and Power. In manual the driver moves between gears. In Eco, the tractor does it automatically to optimise fuel consumption. In Power, the same happens to maximise engine delivery. Its also possible to choose how high the box will shift up in either of the auto modes (thus limiting field speed), and to pre-select a reverse ratio as long its not faster than the previous forward one.

Not all of the options were up and running on our pre-production tractor. But Eco mode shows how easily a thinking tractor can keep up forward speed in changing conditions, with no input from the operator. Programming needs a rethink, though, as the upshift revs (2200) and downshift revs (1600) are too far apart for comfort.

The clutch is much less clever. The pedal is very light and has no feel, making implement coupling too much like roulette. Clutchless direction changes and move-off are on offer, but the systems long delay and very sharp take up make it unpredictable. Again, re-programming might fix it.

Electronic fuelling makes possible a Same-style throttle pad. This works just fine, allowing two pre-set engine speeds to be picked up at the touch of a key. That is, if you can find the pad – Deutz have successfully hidden it.

A chunky flipper for linkage fast lift/lower has found its logical home on the armrest tip. Other linkage controls are easy to find and set, though the external buttons are over-cautious in response and so tedious to work with. Likewise, the top link is not the best. But the rest of the three-point tackle – Waltershied stabilisers, double-handled lift rod adjusters – is OK, and draft control behaviour is good.

ASM electronic control takes care of the driveline, switching 4wd and diff locks variously according to speed, steering angle, brakes but not linkage position; pto shut-off with linkage lift is coming, say the factory. Status warning lights are small, control switches are good and auto control works seamlessly.

&#42 Roadwork

Panoramic views are the best on test. Engine output is impressive, likewise powershift quality, and there is enough low-end urge for high range starts. Bouncing is never worse than moderate. Big negatives are the squishy foot brakes and that parking pedal, which can be positively silly at junctions.

&#42 Sum-up

Light weight makes the most of a capable engine. Bubble cab unbeatable for views, interior colour scheme a matter of taste. Electronic conversation between engine and transmission promises big benefits but needed sorting on the test tractor; electronic throttle very useful.

DEUTZ LIKES & DISLIKES

We like:

&#8226 Cab vision.

&#8226 Engine feel.

&#8226 Light weight.

&#8226 Potentially useful gearbox auto functions.

&#8226 ASM driveline control.

&#8226 Electronic throttle pad.

We dislike:

&#8226 Delay/harshness in clutchless drive take-up.

&#8226 Awkward range changeover speed.

&#8226 Sharp foot clutch engagement.

&#8226 Weak brakes.

&#8226 Silly parking brake.

Forward of a small steering wheel is an equally compact instrument pod, whose mixed displays and tiny warning lights are not the clearest.

Agrotron cab makes heavy use of colour. Shame about the parking brake.