MF8690 First Drive

The first examples of Massey Ferguson’s 8600 range have begun entering the UK, after their launch last September. Emily Padfield got her hands on an 8690 to get some first impressions

As Massey’s largest-ever offering (apart from the giant articulated tractors it sold from the 1960s to the 1980s) this 8690 is reckoned to be the most powerful conventional tractor on the market.

Rated at 370hp, it’s bursting at the seams with new features and technology. As well as being the first tractor to feature SCR technology (the same sort used in trucks to meet emissions legislation), it claims to offer operators more comfort than they could expect in their favourite spot in their local.

From a distance it looks like any conventional tractor, but stand next to it and you soon appreciate how big it really is. There’s no mistaking it’s a Massey, either. Traditional styling has been given a modern twist with a sculpted bonnet and, overall, it’s as perfectly proportioned as that other French icon, first lady Carla Bruni.

The 8600 range replaces Massey’s 8400 series, which spanned the 180-240hp bracket and ceased production in December 2008. With five models on offer, this flagship range now extends from 270-370hp, all using sister company Agco Sisu Power’s 8.4-litre 4-valve Citius common-rail engines.

What’s new?

A heavy-duty Dana front axle and tougher chassis design mean that, even without the integrated front linkage system, manoeuvrability is improved and turning circle tighter. At the rear, linkage lift goes up to 12t, meaning it hardly noticed the Kockerling 8m Allrounder on the back. The new heavy-duty front axle is fitted with QuadLink suspension as standard and customers who opt for the fully integrated front linkage system with 5t lift capacity can have it factory fitted.

The new four-pillar cab is 30% bigger than the 8400, says MF, and the large, one-piece door certainly seems a huge expanse of glass. A floating catch means it slams shut pretty easily. The front screen lacks the horizontal bar which was there in the 8400, which also helps visibility. There’s also the option of a roof window. Surprisingly, a number of 8690s complete with front loaders have already been sold in Austria.

Cab comfort feels unexpectedly car-like, too, thanks to the OptiRide suspension. This is similar to the system on the 8400, but has four hydraulic dampers instead of the two fitted previously. Mounted on the chassis, each damper has an accumulator with two sensors which monitor whether the cab is level or not. Rear levels are controlled via a mechanical link.

Optional (though standard on higher-spec Excellence models) is OptiRide Plus, a system that lets operators stiffen or soften the ride at the turn of a knob.

Getting to grips with the transmission

The 8600 range, like other CVT offerings from Massey, uses the Fendt Vario 900 Series transmission and rear axle rebadged as Dyna-VT. But it gains something called Dynamic Tractor Management (DTM), too. It a little baffling at the outset, but there’s something here for everyone.

The Dyna-VT lever on the armrest, which acts in a similar way as a Vario joystick, seems the handiest way of getting going – just push forward to speed up and pull back to slow down.

MF-8650-main

In fact, pulling sharply back acts as enough of a brake to prompt a flash of the brake lights. It also has the familiar power control shuttle which can be found on MF5400 series’ upwards and enables forward/reverse, declutching and increases and decreases in speed. And for those who prefer foot throttle, just push a button on the armrest and you’ve swapped controls.

For the US market (where, apparently, they’re less enthusiastic about the CVT way of driving), and for those who don’t want to use CVT, you can also swap to Stepshift.

This gives 21 forward x 21 reverse powershift gears, using the power control lever or Dyna-VT lever for up and down shifting.

When DTM is activated, the electronic management system automatically controls both engine and transmission to maintain forward speed while at the same time keeping revs to a minimum. And, although they’ve not yet been published, early DLG tests suggest Massey will be fairly pleased with the fuel consumption figures, particularly when this is coupled with SCR technology, which itself is reckoned to improve fuel efficiency by about 5%.

Operators have seven choices when it comes to triggering the DTM, all managed using the main display unit. These include an on-all-the-time mode or setting it to be activated by engaging the pto, lifting the linkage or using a hydraulic spool valve.

Like the 8400, there are two pre-set speed controls, which allow you to determine rate of acceleration and maintain your chosen speed accordingly. That’s great for headland turns and cultivation work and they can be fiddled with on the move, too.

Towing a 23t trailer up or down a steep hill, you can hear the engine adjust itself to maintain a preset speed and, impressively, it does it without so much as a stutter.

Other items

• For field work, there’s also the option of SpeedSteer, which allows drivers to twist a dial to control the number of turns from lock to lock, reducing it to just one turn if required.

• Fourth generation Datatronic is standard. While it’s housed in the same hardware as the Challenger, operating it is quite a bit different.

• In the headland management system, you’re now able to program up to eight sequences, like pto and SpeedSteer engagement, and it’s possible to edit any recorded cycles. If you have something on the front linkage you can integrate that into the HMS sequence as well.

Under the bonnet

• Maintenance looks pretty straightforward and a simple catch operates the huge bonnet. The cooling pack is mounted on a clever lifting mechanism; just pull a catch and it concertinas up. Oil level and filler cap is on the left-hand side, and there’s a centrifugal fuel filter located just below.

• There’s the option of up to six spool valves with oil flow of 175 litres/min. For kit that demand larger amounts of oil flow (like forage wagons) there’s Massey’s Power Beyond plug system.

* The two fuel tanks hold 590 litres, while the AdBlue tank (located alongside) holds 35 litres, enough for two fills of the diesel tank. Service intervals are 400 hours for engine, 2000 hours for transmission and 1200 for hydraulic oils.

FW impression

This is a long-anticipated tractor, but on the basis of this brief drive it looks like it should be worth the wait. The shear grunt of this machine, its level of technology and the attention to operator comfort should make it a front-runner for those looking to buy a tractor at the super-big end of the market. Whether the industry is ready for SCR technology will become apparent as time goes by, but the fuel savings certainly sound promising.

What’s new?

Engine 8.4 litre 4-valve Sisu Power SCR

Transmission Dyna-VT CVT coupled with Dynamic Tractor Management

Chassis and axle Heavier-duty chassis and high-capacity transaxle with 12t lift capacity

Suspension OptiRide Plus 4-point cab suspension

Cab Four pillar, 30% larger

Controls Control arm and ISO-compatible Datatronic 4 Control Centre Display

Steering AutoGuide ready, SpeedSteer function

MF 8690 – vital stats

Power plant 8.4 4-valve Sisu Power SCR engine

Max rated power 370hp

Transmission Dyna-VT

Suspension QuadLink four-point suspension

Torque 1540Nm

Price £162,405

What is SCR technology?

Agco is the first tractor maker to opt for Selective Catalytic Reduction and it comes as standard in both the 8600 range and the Valtra S-Series. Urea (or AdBlue) is injected into the exhaust stream, where it reacts with the nitrious oxides (NOx) to create nitrogen and water vapour, cutting emissions sharply.
What does it mean for the driver? There’s an extra tank where the tool box was located on the 8400, which holds 35 litres of the solution. As it’s used at less than 3% of the consumption of diesel, it only needs to be filled every other diesel fill-up.
On the dash, there’s an indicator next to the fuel gauge to tell you how much you’ve got left. If you do run out, engine output will be limited to 1500rpm.

THE RIVALS

   
MF-8650-box

Case-rival

Fendt

MF 8690 Dyna VT

370hp

£164,168

Case Magnum 335

368hp

£110,324

Claas Xerion 3800 Trac

388hp

£189,400

John-Deere-rival

Claas-rival

New-Holland-rival

Fendt Vario 936

360hp

£183,657

 

 

John Deere 8530 AutoPowr

360hp

£143,240

 

New Holland T8050 Ultra-command

358hp

£116,522