16 October 1998

FENDTFAVORIT514C

ON the road this big Fendt steers sweetly, suspended or not. On-the-move front axle switching comes from a pair of pushpads which although easy to find, need a brighter status light in strong sun. Without suspension, tackling the cobble stretch at 40kph with the trailer was possible but not recommended . Subjectively the Favorit delivers a worse ride than the Deere or suspended-cab Deutz, but a better one than the Case.

Thumbing the on pad sees the blunt snout rising quickly, then its as if a thick rubber mat has been unrolled under the front tyres. Where before it was best to sit forward in the seat to save a pounding, suddenly you can drop back and relax. For anyone with roadwork to do the improvement is well worth having and is consistent right up to the tractors 50kph top whack.

On smooth blacktop the Fendts unsprung 33-35kph bounce is strong enough to make you want it to stop. Hit the button and bingo! – most disappears. The nose still nods slightly and the axle is busy, but the driver feels little. Now you understand why the Bavarians didnt bother with a suspension on warning light – its hard to see why, apart from loader use or front draft implement work, anyone would switch the system off.

Moving to cultivation, 10kph is a bad speed for the unsprung Fendt and its unsprung driver. Notching up to 12kph helps but the ride is still tougher than the Deeres. Invoking suspension makes a really noticeable change; harsh front-end jolting fades to leave mainly rear rock n roll.

There seems to be plenty of axle travel (we couldnt see the system bottoming or topping out) and the tractor nose is less busy than the softer-sprung Deeres. Again, front suspension makes a subjective change for the better.

&#42 Science says:

Needs more weight

With axle suspension off and nothing on its linkage, the Fendt performs marginally worse than average over the test strip and road. This confirms subjective feelings noted with a trailer; measurement puts it worse than the Deere and (especially) the Deutz, yet much better than the Case.

On the strip/road with axle suspension in, vertical nose movement is substantially worse than average, and it stays that way when adding the plough. At first sight this is odd, as with a cultivator in the ground or trailer on the hook the sprung Fendt feels good. But measurements quickly backed up the science teams seat-of-the-pants feeling that this was the least stable unit with a lifted plough, with video footage showing daylight under the Fendts front wheels over the highest test strip ridges.

Low front weight was the likely reason. As asked, Fendt had supplied the tractor with standard Dutch-market ballast (480kg). With an 1800kg plough lifted, just 13% of outfit weight stayed on the 514Cs front wheels against 19%-20% for the other tractors; the 680kg optional pack would have been a better bet. Another factor suggested by the Cologne team could be the tractors short wheelbase, which meant that at some points down the track it fitted between ridges which other units straddled.

&#42 Conclusion

Poor measurement figures spoil the story for a suspension system that delivers subjectively good results.

&#8226 Setup: Single ram, twin accumulators and horizontal link.

&#8226 100mm total travel, 11deg oscillation.

&#8226 Special feature: Locks out automatically with loader/heavy front tackle.

&#8226 Price premium: Deduct £2441 if not wanted.