31 October 1997

Massey Ferguson 8160

£74,000

200hp, 7400cc, 32 x 32 gears

Test weight 8055kg

Introduced 1995

Built in France, 8100-series Masseys run from 135hp to this, the biggest at 200hp. Engine is a Valmet.

JUMPING into the Massey after the complexities of the competition – particularly the Fendt – is like taking a breath of fresh air. Its so simple to drive; four gears and a shuttle on manual sticks, four Dynashift steps, and a happy-sounding motor for company.

First hop up in the two-door cab, avoiding the fixed winker bracket and thus a stabbing pain in the shoulder. Its light grey and bright in here, with those twin gearsticks forward of a compact console. The padded passenger seat is comfortable, theres some oddment stowage and reasonable flask/cup holders. The instrument panel is wide and the bonnet chubby, so you must look around it to see something on the front linkage. Deep glass takes in the front wheels, the offside centre pillar is broad – its home to the Datatronic panel – and Masseys trademark curving rear threequarter glass gives good over-the-shoulder views.

Ventilation outlets are limited, though its possible to recirculate chilled air for quick demisting and the rear screen has its own supply. Check the build quality; its average – on a par with the Case and New Holland. The thin steering wheel, though, is a tactile let-down.

Drop an implement into the ground and let the motor pull. Its significantly noisier than the John Deere and about the same as the Case, with a growl thats less tiresome and complaining than the Fendt. In practice theres no noise problem, despite the cabs scoring worst of the bunch on test at 79.5db(A). Which says something about the differences between actual sound pressure and perceived racket.

How about performance? Theres just 9% constant power and no overpower on offer. But torque backup is 39%, so the Valmet plods on pretty well against a tough load. Itll haul right down to 1000rpm but smokes at any speed. The DLG reckon this motor used 3%-4% more fuel than an identical example tested in 1995, delivering a six-point average of 256g/kWhr and thus putting the Massey second worst after the Case.

The transmission mixes good and bad. Its hard to fault Masseys Dynashift, which delivers fast and butter-smooth changes under big loads. And with 13 ratios in the fieldwork bracket plus good overlaps, theres usually a choice of cogs for a job.

But its still a largely manual box, with none of the automatic options of the New Holland or Deutz. So when working in the highest Dynadrive ratio, its necessary to use two sticks if you want fast reversing. And shifting those manual gears can be sticky. Both levers baulk, its hard to change travel direction until the tractor stops and the main levers inverted-H gate needs to be learnt. On the plus side a light, progressive clutch leads to safe implement coupling.

Range changes come from moving the main stick left in neutral. No problem, with the provisos that a more positive gate would lessen the chances of changing range when fishing for 3rd/4th, and that both ranges (rather than one) deserve a dash indication light.

View to the linkage is so-so as the driver sits well forward. Working round the back is no better than OK; the stabilisers cant lock on lift, the top links handle could be longer, and parking the link involves a fiddly pin.

Potentially trickier is lift capacity. The DLG measured 5774kg-7767kg and found a limited 640mm travel arc. Although this looks OK, hitch geometry makes the least of whats on tap. Computer prediction suggested the 8160 would struggle with a loaded drill combination grossing 5000kg, and out in the yard the computer proved right. Restricted arm travel also made it tricky to place the empty combo on its transport trailer.

Massey groups the lift controls tidily, though its possible to knock the main rotary height knob when using the hand throttle. All functions are clear and readily findably, apart from the automatic weight-matching drop speed facility which lurks at the end of switch rotation. Implement anti-bounce control is standard and worthwhile. Big punchable buttons switch front and rear ptos; drive take-up is smooth and emergency shut-off potentially rapid.

As the test plough was a Massey unit, its not surprising that the 8160 handled it the best. Perfect to use but not so easy to set sums up the plough, with big plus marks going to its rear steering and tractor-linked Dual Control system. This lets the plough immediately into work, keeps it parallel during draft control so the sub-furrow finish is level, and lifts it parallel for clean ins and outs.

Masseys time-tried Autotronic arrangement looks after 4wd and diff lock operation. Rocker switches on the dash bring systems in, then the Brain takes over control according to speed, linkage lift and braking. But as 4wd comes in even on using the independent brake pedals, steering lock – which is intrinsically good – isnt boosted in turns.

&#42 Roadwork

Without front weight the 8160 is a big bouncer, with weight its calm. Electronic governing limits top speed to 40km/hr, leaving the tractor pleasant to drive fast at relatively low rpm. Brakes give hard stops from the lowest pedal effort in the test. At junctions its too easy to mix up the winker stalk and Dynashift lever, but like the main sticks reverse-H pattern this is something the driver grows into. Transport would be a little easier if automation could select the lowest Dynashift step on every main stick upward change.

&#42 Sum-up

A blessedly simple tractor to work with. Relatively light weight makes the most of engine output. Cab inviting, Dynashifts fine, manual changes less so, Autotronic big help, lift could be limiting.

MFLIKES & DISLIKES

We like:

&#8226 Lack of complication.

&#8226 Smooth Dynashift, good gear overlaps.

&#8226 Simple linkage controls.

&#8226 Inviting cab.

&#8226 Useful driveline auto functions.

&#8226 High external hydraulic power.

&#8226 Datatronic information gathering.

&#8226 Excellent brakes.

We dislike:

&#8226 Marginal lift capacity.

&#8226 Awkward shift patterns.

&#8226 Shift quality.

&#8226 Basic stabilisers.

&#8226 Road bounce.

Strong brakes boost the 8160s roadability, sticky manual shifts dont.

Clean control layout is a plus. Datatronic (top right) gives useful info.