New Holland unveils radical new T8 range

Power Farming Verdict





A useful upgrade on the old T8000, which never quite captured farmers’ hearts. The one should do better, especially the top-of-the-range T8.390.

It’s no secret that the New Holland T8000 never quite captured the hearts of farmers in the way the maker originally intended. Despite the big power outputs, its looks failed to impress farmers who favoured older high-hp New Hollands such as the 70 Series.

The engine and the gearbox came together nicely and everything worked well, but farmers couldn’t get over the fact that it was a short machine for its horsepower. And the reason for its shortness was the fact that the front end was designed to allow for NH’s sharp-turning Supersteer system, though NH insists that it was no shorter than anyone else’s tractor in the same powerband. In fact, it had the same wheelbase as its cousin, the Case IH Magnum.

NH has taken all this to heart and changed things on the new T8. Its heavily-sculpted long front end is the first thing that strikes you about the new model. But the company is keen to point out that the four-model T8 range, which goes from 298hp to 389hp, isn’t simply an 8000 with an engine change and a nose job.

Coming in at 3450mm long – roughly 1ft longer than anything else on the market in this power bracket – the new T8’s turning circle is pretty compact. “People avoid longer wheelbases because of manoeuvrability, but because of the design of the front axle, we’ve kept the turning circle to under 5m, comparable with a 150hp tractor,” says New Holland tractor specialist Richard Hollins.

This is all down to the position of the front axle in relation to the cooling package and the sculpted casting, he explains. “The widest point at the front is the cooling package, which is mounted directly above the axle beam, enabling the wheels to tuck neatly behind and in front.” At its narrowest, the chassis slims to a remarkable 28cm -less than 1ft.

The existing T8000 has now ceased production, but there are some in dealer yards and production of the new T8s starts this month. “The first models will arrive in June ahead of this year’s harvest,” says Mr Hollins.

It’s expected that the flagship 389hp T8.390 will be the most popular, but that also the smaller T8.300 will also tempt customers looking for something with a little more grunt than the T7s. A CVT version is planned.

Effectively, says NH, everything from the cab forwards is new. There’s a heavier duty front axle with a chunkier hub and front suspension is now standard – the smaller T8.300 using scissor-action suspension and the top three models adopting a saddle-type TerraGlide arrangement with a trailing arm which travels backwards to the middle of the tractor, pivoting directly under the engine.

The CDC/Cummins powerplant has been replaced by an 8.7-litre FPT Cursor 9 SCR engine, now with engine power management allowing for boost up to 49hp for PTO, transport and hydraulic applications. “And because of lower engine rpm, torque is now 15% higher than before,” adds Mr Hollins. Another welcome change is the longer service intervals, up from 300 hours to 600 hours.

Before, fitting a front-linkage was a bit of an afterthought and could only be done by a dealer as a retro-fit. Now, it’s a factory option that’s bolted to the engine chassis, making it close-coupled to the front axle. Front pto is now available, making it suitable for things like triple mowers and cultivation trains.

The engine is now iso-mounted with a driveshaft going to the transmission, whereas the T8000’s was bolted onto the transmission.

Gearbox options remain unchanged, with 50kph full powershift with 19F/4R as standard as well as a 23F/6R 40kph variant with a creeper box.

All models come with NH’s CVT-like ground speed management feature (GSM), meaning drivers select the desired forward speed and the software automatically matches this with the lowest engine revs.

Sadly, the exhaust brake on the model we drove won’t be standard, but it is possible to order it, says Mr Hollins.

On the road, it doesn’t seem as big as other models in its horsepower. In fact, although it’s comparable in manouvreability to the likes of a Fendt 936 and a MF 8690, it seems more compact, particularly heading down the high street of a small Kent town with a fully laden grain trailer on the back. Thankfully, the 30mph US-style transmission in the pre-production model won’t be on the options list.

There’s obviously no shortage of power, but it was impossible to test it fully due to sodden condition of the fields. With engine power management, the extra power during transport is certainly noticeable. In front of a fully-laden trailer of wheat, the powershift transmission was characteristically smooth.

Up in the cab, things have been changed significantly too. It gets the Sidewinder II armrest and Intelliview III monitor as standard, meaning all tractors in NH’s stable from 125hp to 600hp have a commonality about them that means swapping between models shouldn’t mean re-learning the controls from scratch.

The big grille behind the rads deflects the air from the cab, keeping both heat and noise away from the cab, making for a hushed 68dBa, 6dBa lower than the previous model.

New Holland T8.360
Power (boost) 321hp (367hp)
Engine FPT 8.7-litre Cursor 9
Transmission 19F/4R
Hydraulics 163 litres/min
Linkage lift Rear: 10.2t Front: 5t
Turning circle 4.97m
Weight 11.3t
Service interval 600h
Price £152,961