New MF model gets a technical revamp

AS THE MF 8480 advances across a field just west of Copenhagen, a pleasant sound rings out – the crisp clear note of the 8.4-litre Sisu engine as it cuts the cold air.


Watching the tractor pulling its 12m cultivation rig, it all looks so simple. It is only on entering the cab that the level of technological sophistication becomes apparent.


A new Datatronic III console sits to the right of the driver alongside the right-hand armrest. Large colour pictures illustrate each function, a welcome feature for those less familiar with the technological wizardry of modern tractors.


The console is programmed to perform tasks such as spool-valve and linkage functions during headland turns, making it easier to concentrate on other activities.


The cultivator did not place as much of a demand on the Datatronic terminal as, for example, a power-harrow/drill combination unit might have done. But it was still evident that the console has the potential to reduce driver input.


As the unit nears the start of a new cultivation run, pushing a button on the console starts a sequence of hydraulic functions that have been programmed into the Datatronic terminal. At the end of each bout it does the same in reverse.


Sourced from sister-company Fendt, the Dyna-VT stepless transmission is fitted to all four models in the 8400 range.


In operation, the shuttle lever to the left of the dash controls transmission ratios as well as the direction of travel.


The gearbox has four possible settings, which provide transport, pto, economy and cruise modes. Tweaking the engine-monitoring dial beside the terminal allows the operator to determine transmission changes in relation to engine speed drop.


Selecting maximum drop while pulling the cultivator really makes the 8.4-litre Sisu engine grunt, with revs dipping to near stalling point before a twist of the dial returns the machine to normal operation.


“Cruise’ mode is activated by punching either one of the two SV-switches on the right-hand console. This allows the operator to predetermine two forward speeds and select either at the touch of a button.


In effect, it uses a combination of preset engine speeds and transmission ratios to maintain the same travel speed.


Labelling of the two buttons that control predetermined forward speeds could lead to some bafflement. The two, marked SV-1 and SV-2 could easily be confused with spool-valve controls.


But actual spool-valve operation is simple enough through an armrest-mounted joystick. Once the settings have been programmed, performing the function requires only a flick of the stick in the appropriate direction.


Conditions on the day were not ideal – wet weather meant that the 8480 struggled to get a grip on the greasy clay. Despite that, the lugging ability of the machine did not disappoint, even with a 12m cultivator in tow.


The MF 8480 is a well-equipped, modern tractor, suitably kitted out with the bells and whistles now becoming commonplace on higher horsepower machines, irrespective of brand.


Fitting a stepless transmission as standard may prove an attraction to some buyers, but it should be noted that not all buyers are avid fans of CVT units.


With a price-tag of just over 100,000 for the 8480 model it is a machine that will need to offer a particularly appealing package to sway the decision-making of farmers and contractors.