On test: Fendt 720 Vario

Fendt-720-Vario-exterior

It’s the same old story with the Fendt – it was the best-designed and best-engineered tractor in the group and was at the top end of the rankings in almost every test we carried out.

But it is expensive and you can get the same transmission, an equally good engine and pay a good bit less if you go for its red-coloured cousin.

Cab

The current five-pillar Fendt cab has been knocking around for a few years now, but it is still one of the best laid-out, highest-quality and quietest cabins on the market.

Vital stats

  • Engine 6.1-litre, six-cylinder Deutz
  • Max power 192hp
  • Transmission CVT
  • Hydraulics 194 litres/min at two valves
  • Max lift 9.1t
  • Entry-level list price £135,247
  • Price as tested £154,763

To a non-Fendt driver, the number of options and settings can be a little daunting, but they are logically laid out and quickly mastered. This is where the Fendt really scores over its Agco cousins, which are generally more muddled.

One of the most noticeable in-cab upgrades has been to the monitor on the end of the armrest.

This has now been given a glossy iPad-style glass screen that’s apparently less susceptible to getting scratched.

There’s also a reworked bar for mounting monitors that’s a bit tougher than the old one.

It’s still not perfect, though – the steering wheel is too big and chunky, the left-hand reverser is a fiddle and it’s annoying that you have to use an air brake rather than flicking the shuttle into park.

Other than that, there’s not a lot to grumble about.

Fendt-720-Vario-interior

Engine

Fendt is still sticking doggedly to its Deutz powerplant, despite what must be a pretty big temptation to switch to Agco’s in-house brand, Sisu. The six-potter slotted in the 720 had no boost function, but it still managed to pump out 192hp at the shaft when the DLG hooked it to its dyno. That put it in second place, just behind the Massey, which managed 193hp.

With boost, the other tractors had a healthy amount of extra grunt, averaging 203hp, but it is important to remember you get this only during transport or when the pto is engaged.

Likes

  • Quality cabin and good layout
  • Loads of set-up options
  • Economical engine
  • Smooth transmission

Gripes

  • Linkage controls
  • Forward/reverse shuttle
  • Dealer-only servicing
  • The price

The Fendt also performed well in the DLG’s average fuel consumption test, ranking second only to the Sisu-powered Massey. However, its frugal use of Adblue helped offset that difference.

But it’s not all good news. This lack of Adblue thirst is down to a new diesel particulate filter that has to be regenerated by the dealer every 500 hours, along with the standard oil change. So if you are planning to do all your own maintenance work, think again.

Transmission

The 720’s tried-and-tested Vario transmission performed well in both the DLG lab tests and on our test loop with a trailer in tow.

On the road it thundered up to speed without fuss and there were none of the unpleasant whines and groans you got with the Valtra.

In our draft power test – which shows how efficiently the gearbox gets power to the wheels – the Vario came second only to the Valtra, with a figure of 165hp. It burnt the least diesel doing it, too.

Linkage and hydraulics

The Marktoberdof tractor’s back-end performance also put it at the top end of the rankings.

First, it had the largest volume of removable hydraulic oil (64 litres) and the second-highest flow rate, measured at two spools. Those stats mean it’s a good choice for tasks that require large oil volumes to be delivered at high speed, such as running a big push-off trailer.

The Fendt also did well in the lifting test, managing to haul just over 9t off the ground and putting itself well above the group average.

There’s also a new quick-release system that can shorten the arms by 10cm to keep them from fouling on drawbars.

We’re still not fans of the lift controllers, though. They have a separate stop button that’s just too easy to miss when grabbing for it in an emergency. We’d prefer them to stop on the raise and lower buttons like most of the others do.

Fendt-720-Vario-controls

UK verdict

Not for the first time, the Fendt reigned supreme in our test. There is really nothing to rival it for interior comfort, build quality and the fact that it’s really quite simple to operate for such a sophisticated tractor.

Even when you strip away all the clever electronics, there’s a powerful, clean-burning engine, smooth transmission and impressive hydraulic set-up, all of which ranked at the upper end of Germany’s DLG tractor testing centre’s tests. So if you’re after a sophisticated tractor and don’t mind digging deep to pay for it, the Fendt is the obvious choice.

Also, with tractor sales still on the slide, the price void between the Fendt and the more mainstream makes is narrowing. Coupled with great second-hand values and the cost might not be as eye-watering as you think.

But Fendt has engineered its tractors to a point where it’s almost impossible to carry out your own on-farm maintenance. That means you will need to factor in the cost and hassle of having to get your dealer to give it the once-over every 500 hours.

Download the PDF of full tractor specifications

The scores

Build quality stars
Cab/ergonomics Four-and-a-half stars
Engine Four stars
Gearbox Four-and-a-half stars
Rear linkage Three-and-a-half stars
Hydraulics Four-and-a-half stars
Pto Four stars
4wd/diff four stars
Handling stars
Driving comfort five out of five stars

Final score

4.3