Driven: Landini Powermondial 115

Power Farming Verdict





Agile tractor with smooth manual shifting. Cab storage a bit mean and there’s no auto diff-lock function

It’s fair to say that for many farms looking to replace a tractor, Landini wouldn’t necessarily be the first name to spring to mind.

Often viewed as being from the cheaper, lower-spec end of the spectrum, the Italian manufacturer’s products haven’t always enjoyed the success that perhaps they deserve.

However the company’s latest range revamp puts its tractors up there with the big boys, on paper at least. New cabs, engines and transmissions mean Landini’s high-spec mid-power Powermondial has nothing to be shy about.

This new three model range replaces the current Vision models and sits alongside the lower-spec, predominantly mechanical Powerfarm in the all-important 90-110hp power bracket.

The new range gains a beefier back-end, three-speed powershift transmission and ultra-luxurious four-post bubble-cab. For now, power is limited to a maximum of 110hp but by mid-2010 there will be a 120hp version with an electronically-governed, power-boosted engine.

For this test, we satisfied ourselves with the current range-topper – the Powermondial 115. Rated at 110hp, there are two versions – the lower-spec all-mechanical “Techno” and the all-singing, all-dancing “Top”. Naturally the demo machine we plumped for had all the jingly bits.

For those who think of Landinis as blue-painted Masseys built under licence in Italy, think again. That was the early 1990s and things have come on a long way since then.

True enough, like most modern tractors, Landini’s Powermondial uses a collection of components common to many makes and models out there – such as a Perkins engine and Bosch hydraulics.

But make no mistake, this is a machine designed and built in-house at the company’s Fabbrico factory in Italy. The transmission and back end are completely home-grown and the cab-frame is shared with Argo sister-brand McCormick, albeit with a very different interior.

Mechanically-governed Perkins four-pot with rotary fuel-pump and charge-air after-cooler meets Tier III emissions rules.

This range offers a choice of 15F x 15R all mechanical Techno box or Top spec 36F x 12R, 3-speed powershift with powershuttle. Both give a top speed of 40kph. The back end moves away from traditional bull-type final-drives to stronger planetary reduction gearing.

We hitched the Powermondial 115 up to a three-leg sub-soiler and headed off up the road to set about loosening some recently harvested and well run-down beet ground.

Bowling off up the lane, the petitely proportioned Powermondial quickly gets up to speed and, working up through the gearbox, it quickly becomes apparent that this is the tractor’s prize asset.

There’s no need to touch the clutch – just set the range box in hare mode, knock the shuttle lever forward and work up through the three powershift steps.

Then, for a manual change, it’s just a squeeze of the thumb-button on the main gear-lever to de-clutch, slot the stick across the H-gate and release – the computer works out the rest and re-engages drive.

Unlike other tractors with this facility, the process is silky-smooth and there isn’t that interminable wait as the gearbox works out what it is supposed to be doing.

There’s only one let-down in this department – the gearbox lacks a powershift speed-matching function so, after a manual upshift, the three-way splitter remains in top speed with the result that under load some pretty rapid thumb-work is required to get the right ratio selected.

Once up to 40kph the tractor feels stable enough but, as is to be expected with such a short wheelbase, the Powermondial goes into nodding-donkey mode when it hits a bump. Things are made drastically better once Bosch’s clever electronic linkage-damping system is activated.

Into the field, dropping the three-legger in to 350mm (14in) makes the Perkins four-pot grumble to start but it is quick to recover and soon humming along at a steady 1900rpm.

Power is clearly not a problem but greasy beet-tops did prompt the lightweight tractor to start scrabbling like a terrier on a skating rink.

A quick stab on a rocker-switch and diff-lock is swiftly engaged – it works a treat and pretty soon we’ve worked our way up through the box to 20th gear and a respectable 8-9kph.

All good so far. It’s when we reach the headland things start to unravel.

Lifting the sub-soiler, a gentle squeeze of the brakes should unlock the diff.

Sure enough, the light on the dash goes out but the tractor carries on towards the hedge, regardless of which way the wheels are pointing. We’re told this is because the backend uses a peg-type (rather than multi-disc) diff-lock so steering the tractor one way or other before it has disengaged torque-loads it with the result that it stays firmly locked.

That would be fair enough for a basic bog-standard bog-trotter but this is a high-spec machine with clever electronic gadgetry. Having to wait while the diff-lock decides to kick-out at each headland turn is time-consuming.

It’s already electronically controlled by switches on the console and brake-pedal so why not add another switch on the linkage or front axle to automate things?

The Powermondial’s cab is the icing on the cake. For this size of tractor you’ll struggle to find anywhere more pleasant to spend an afternoon.

Acres and acres of glass make it feel bigger than it really is and there’s been careful thought as to where to position controls.

A single cross-lever handles two spool-valve functions and is poles apart from the afterthought third lever which has been stuck out the way on its own. That one is clunky, cumbersome and tricky to use.

Curvy plastic trim feels well screwed together but there’s nowhere flat to balance a sandwich box or perch a mobile phone.

Down beside the seat there’s a cupholder and shallow tray plus plenty of space for extra clutter. But there’s nothing to stop link-balls, draw-bar pins and Stilsons from sliding around.

External storage is pathetic, too, with a flimsy plastic toolbox hidden away under the right-hand cab steps. Up in the roof-lining there are vents for side-screens, face and the front window.

There’s also an automotive-style climate-control set-up which is more comprehensive than your average Vauxhall Vectra and twice as effective. Shame it won’t warm your feet though.

Landini Powermondial 115
Plus Minus
Ultra-smooth manual shifting with seamless shuttle and button clutch No start-in-gear facility – constant bleeping when not in seat
Tight-turning front axle No auto diff-lock function, doesn’t always kick-out on brakes
Well laid-out controls with quality trim and switchgear Lack of cab storage and flat surfaces
Large, airy cabin with car-style climate control No powershift speed-matching between manual changes

Model Landini Powermondial 115 Zetor Proxima Power 115 New Holland T5060 Deutz Agrofarm 430GS John Deere 5100R Massey Ferguson 5455
Max power 110hp 116hp 106hp 109hp 108hp 112hp
Price £44,838 £27,791 £39,907 £41,514 £44,963 £55,093

Landini Powermondial 115 specifications
Rated power 110hp
Engine 4.4-litre Perkins 4-cyl turbo, mechanical fuel injection
Transmission 36F x 12R, 3-range, 4-speed manual with 3-step clutchless splitter and shuttle
Top speed 40kph
PTO 540/1000rpm, electro-hydraulically engaged
Linkage lift 5.2t
Hydraulics 52-litres/min, constant displacement, open-centre system
Turning circle 4.5m
Weight 4.7t
Price £44,838 (incl. climate control, air-seat, passenger seat, roof hatch, front-axle braking, telescopic pick-up hitch, external linkage and pto controls)