31 October 1997

New Holland G190

£72,680

190hp, 7.51 litres, 18 x 9 gears

Test weight 9075kg

Introduced 1994

Second in a four-model range spanning 170hp to 240hp, the Fiat-brown G190 is identical to the UKs more common Ford 8770.

THIS tractor may be built in Canada, but its heart comes from good old Basildon.

Based on the Powerstar block, the G190s largish-capacity motor starts off with the lowest claimed output in the group but makes up for it on the dyno.

There is a wide 36% constant power band, with the highest overpower of the lot (24hp, or 14.5%) waiting well down the wings at 1700rpm. Torque backs up by a fine 56% to 1300revs, but then takes a Kamikaze-style dive. Consequently, drive-away torque – a measure of how well the engine can pull from low crank speeds at start-off – is weak. Fuel consumption is middling, along with the Claas.

This looks likes an engine that might need its powershift box, but more on that later. Swinging up into the shiny-plastic cab puts you behind a wide, information-bordered instrument panel. Along with a low roofline and dark panelling, the chubby dash makes cab space seem more cramped than it is. Luckily there is enough glass to fend off gloom, and good stowage in boxes and alongside the drivers seat. But a passenger had better be athletic to make it to the second perch.

Looking forward shows a wide bonnet whose token tip curve does not help much. Out to the sides the view is boosted by lots of window and narrow mudguards; looking back gives a clear shot at the linkage through deep glass. Add in reasonable ventilation (albeit without foot outlets) and effective aircon, and this is a cab you can work from. But build quality is only average.

On the right-hand console is the powershift lever, whose workings are completely logical – forward for forward, back for back. Impeccable logic falls over in gear shifting, as you must flick the stick left for down and right for up. But this hides a benefit; when going backwards, shifts stay in the same plane so cant be confused with travel direction. Dashboard gear indication is clear.

The transmission overflows with possibilities, if not ratios – eight in the 2.5mph-7.5mph fieldwork range is just enough. A rocker switch option of shifting down or up three gears gives more thinking time approaching a headland. The ability to programme reverse up to three gears distant from forward speed is a boon, and on the road the boxs automatic transmission button and gear/speed matching abilities are useful. What isnt so hot is the rigmarole needed to change programming.

Clutchless direction changes are smooth at pto revs, and the foot clutch is easily controlled when backing to hitch on. Powershift swaps are OK if clattery under power, though you soon learn to look out for the epic 9th-10th step.

Good detailing makes the New Holland easy to work with. For instance, a bold dashboard graphic quickly shows which work lights are on, all system switches are grouped by function, and the top link has a useful turnbuckle arm. Low effort steering takes 31⁄4 turns between locks to speed headland shunts, with NHs Super steer axle an option. On the detailing downside, the lift rod adjusters lock clips are a real fiddle.

During draft work the engine digs really hard, but below 1300 collapses so fast that cogging down wont let it come back. Powershifting beforehand solves that, but the lack of low-speed go means finding a lower gear when starting with an implement in the ground. And it wont be handy when conditions call for maintained forward speed and uninterrupted power flow.

The other snag is noise. The G190 is the only tractor in this set where noise goes up as revs go down. Levels are OK when the motor is spinning fast but really boom in around 1900revs, a big fieldwork irritation missed by the rated-speed lab tests. On top of that, there are sundry snake hisses from the steering and brakes.

Only two other fieldwork moans were recorded. The pto switch is safe but fiddly, and the soldier-like spool levers could be different heights (or adjustable) for no-mistake operation.

Linkage controls are logically laid out and easily set. Fast drop from a rocker switch puts the plough straight into the ground and draft control thereafter is sensitive. Wheel-slip setting is simple and its control system effective. Diff locks and 4WD both have an automatic option which switches them in and out according to linkage lift (diff lock only), steering angle, speed and brake use. Auto systems work on cue, lifting load from the driver.

&#42 Roadwork

On the road, driving position and view are both good. The New Holland is a limited bouncer with 16t behind, and runs quietly enough when not under heavy load. On an open road the transmissions automatic mode makes a lot of sense, but not in villages. On hills, its programming makes a better job of taking the outfit swiftly upwards than the human hand. Automatic lower gear selection means low drive-away torque is generally not a problem at junctions. Steering feels a little insecure at 25mph and, hydraulic noises apart, braking is solid with low pedal effort.

&#42 Sum-up

To sum up, an easy-working tractor with a motor thats mighty until the point of no return is reached. Plenty of transmission options, good driveline automation and hydraulics, but somehow it misses the spark of greatness. Pity about the noise band around maximum power.

NH LIKES & DISLIKES

We like

&#8226 Engine strength in mid-range, especially for 190hp tractor.

&#8226 Transmission automatic functions.

&#8226 Good detailing.

&#8226 Easy-to-use wheelslip control.

&#8226 Sensitive draft control.

&#8226 Simple maintenance.

We dislike

&#8226 Noise in work.

&#8226 Engines rapid torque drop below 1300rpm.

&#8226 Low start-off torque.

&#8226 Fiddly pto knob.

&#8226 Some gearshifts harsh.

Powershift lever, hand throttle and major control switches cluster comfortably close.

Easy worker – NH cab features good detailing. Mirrors are usefully big.