31 October 1997

John Deere 8200

£77,624

208hp, 8148cc, 16 x 5 gears

Test weight 9795kg

Introduced 1994

The USA-built 8200 fills second spot in the 8000 range, with 230hp and 260hp models above. Second heaviest tractor in this test, its just pipped on claimed power by the Cat and on engine capacity by the Case.

THE Deeres engine caused quite a flutter at the DLG. Admiration for its low fuel use (only the Fendt is more economical), and astonishment for its torque curve, which marches sharply up from rated speed and is still heading up at 1000rpm where measurements stopped. The result is a 22% constant power band, 42% backup and massive drive-away torque of 142%. Overpower is not as high as some at 9.2%, but really impressive is the way this is spread smoothly through the whole constant power region, rather than being just a brief blip. On paper, then, heres an engine that will really fight load increases in the higher speed range, yet will still lug and lug at the bottom end.

Before the driving, take a peek in the cab. Its light and calm in here, with a high seat and Deeres sober brown trim as a finisher. The bonnets wasp waist is emphasised by the fact that theres no instrument panel forward of the steering column; all that lot has migrated to a lengthy console to the right and an LCD gear/speed indicator on the front offside pillar.

The result is excellent sight to the front lift arms, with jointless deep glass panels adding to the effect. Look around and the view stays good, right to the generous back screen and its clear view of the linkage.

A good-size lidded box takes papers and the manual, but theres not much room elsewhere for a bag. Unusually there are two ways in for external control cables and matching mounting points on either side of the cab. Car-style controls direct air from around the steering column to the face, screen and feet; good, but not as much help to hotheads as roof vents.

So far then, a fine workplace boosted by a steering column that automatically latches back to the angle that you left it. But spiriting all the instruments away from the drivers sight line is questionable. And its a good bosss machine, as you have to peer hard at the panel to find the tiny clock.

Back to that engine. In work you just cant kill it. Throttle back to idle speed with the plough in the ground and the motor hauls on; shift up at mid-rpm and it simply grunts and shoulders the new load.

Behind the engine Deeres own 16 x 5 powershift gives nine gears in the fieldwork slot, and thus a range of forward speeds at pto revs. Locking shaft speed on target is simple with Deeres cruise control, which is worked through a console knob. Throttle up to rated speed, wind rpm back down to the right level on the knob, and thats that. The foot pedal overrides your setting for more grunt if its needed, and the hand throttle takes speed down for headlands. The system is not quite as useful as the Deutz two-speed pad, but is still a big help.

Shifting under load is generally smooth and quiet, with only a decidedly rough 4th/5th change the exception. Clutchless drive take-up is fairly sudden going backward but better heading forward; the clutch pedal is weighty but controllable.

Powershifting is by a little lever set in the multi-function armrest; alongside the Cases he-man version its positively dinky. Neutral and park are at the bottom of a gate, reverse in the middle and forward at the top. Sliding the lever home selects the previously-used gear; flicking it forward or back changes up or down.

Selection would be better if neutral/park were dog-legged off the middle. As things stand the lever always wants to ferret off back to neutral/park, which may be safe but is a pain. Equally awkward is the way the five reverse speeds are achieved. There are three gears, with two extra speeds generated by automatically raising rpm. This is OK once you know its going to happen, very disconcerting when you dont.

Also up in the armrest are the hand throttle, pto switch, linkage controls (under a lid), the fast lift/lower rocker and all four spool switches, the latter as small tags. Putting everything together like this makes the drivers life easy.

Now for the rest in a nutshell. The 8200 is a long, heavy tractor with plenty of weight up front, so its stable with a big drill lifted. That wasp waist allows tight turns – steering circle tested the best at 41.6ft (12.5m) in two-wheel drive.

The hitch came out second lowest on capacity – if 6030-8994kg is ever low – but in practice, good geometry makes use of all the force available. So the 8200 hoists the DLGs theoretical drill combo without trouble and does the same in reality. A dire top link confirms that this tractor hails from the home of trailed tackle; otherwise linkage hardware is OK.

Draft sensing is good with the plough, but seemed to have trouble keeping up with fast cultivation. Rapid lower didnt put the plough to work quickly enough, even on maximum drop rate. Available hydraulic power is high and impressively, can be fully extracted from a single outlet. Only the Massey equals it here.

As electronics rather than cables or oil direct the spools, individual armrest switches have an associated timer function. The facility is simple to set so drivers will use it; allocate a time to an operation like plough turnover at the side console, start it off at the switch and get on with something else.

Steering lock and the brakes are good. But driveline auto functions are limited – four-wheel drive comes in with braking, and can be switched so independent brakes and speed take it out, but the manual rear diff lock is still on a stone age foot button.

&#42 Roadwork

Despite its formidable bulk, the 8200 managed second best hill climb time behind the Fendt. The driver had to stick at it, though, as on the test-standard tyre pressures (1.6 bar all round) the Deere leaps as much as its logo suggests. Luckily the hand throttle is as good as they come.

Moving 16t from rest in a high gear is no trouble. A harsh, big-step 12/13 shift showed up on the road, as did winkers whose warning light is too small and bleeper much too quiet.

And when shunting around a yard its best to stay away from the higher reverse gears, as the tractors automatic throttle-up makes it take off very sharply.

&#42 Sum-up

Its all heart this tractor, and a fine forwards drive. Road bounce and unruly reverse behaviour apart, its a true arable machine which really looks after the operator. Buy one for that astonishing engine, if nothing else.

DEERE LIKES & DISLIKES

We like

&#8226 Amazing engine torque, low fuel consumption.

&#8226 View forwards.

&#8226 Armrest control layout.

&#8226 Steering wheel adjustment.

&#8226 Tight turning circle.

&#8226 Very quiet cab in work.

&#8226 General cab comfort.

&#8226 High external hydraulic power.

We dislike

&#8226 Over-harsh clutchless direction changes.

&#8226 Automatic rpm jump in some reverse gears.

&#8226 Powershift gate arrangement.

&#8226 Bounce on road.

&#8226 Old-fashioned rear diff lock.

All gone. Deeres ploy of shifting the dash really pays off in visibility.

Ah, here it is. Console and armrest hold all the main controls.