Renault sees stylish future
By Andy Collings
ARES – Renault Agricultures latest input into the increasingly competitive tractor market.
Stylish, well researched and designed to meet the demands of 65% of the agricultural industry, it is also a series on which Renault has staked its future.
So just what has the new Ares tractor range got to offer, and where will it score over its competitors? At first glance one is met by a tractor which, in laymans terms, appears to fit the bill. A curved bonnet provides good visibility as does a spacious cab. Weight distribution is claimed to be 48% rear and 52% front, and a front wheel turning angle of 55í adds a certain manoeuvrability.
With power provided by Deere Power Systems (DPS), the range kicks off with the 85hp 540 version – true Renault enthusiasts will note the companys policy of designating tractors with numbers having no bearing on any ascribable detail is continued. Like the 95hp 550, the 540 is provided with a four-cyl turbocharged engine.
Moving up the range, the 100hp 610 and the 110hp 620 are powered by a naturally aspirated six-cyl block, with turbo versions for the 120hp 630, 145hp 710 and the range topping 165hp 720 models.
Prospective buyers will need to know that only the 600 range will be available immediately, with the 500s coming on stream in the spring and the 700s in the autumn.
Renault is keen to point out that the chassis-less DPS engines are designed to offer "constant power" with maximum power main-tained throughout the 1900-2200rpm engine speeds. High torque characteristics are also claimed. The Ares range is equipped with GIMA transmissions – a joint venture between Massey Ferguson and Renault. We should all perhaps get used to listening to those who would claim Renault is using an MF transmission, or even vice versa, but the fact remains that it is a 50/50 joint venture.
In detail, the Ares employs an oil-cooled clutch pack designed to give long-term reliable use. From there on, as with all modern tractors, there are numerous options.
Twinshift offers eight speeds with a change under load splitter to provide 16 forward and reverse speeds. Quadrishift has eight speed with four changes under load in each to give 32 forward and reverse speeds.
A creep speed option which allows speeds as low as 500m/hour gives the Twinshift an extra eight speeds and the Quadrishift, 16 speeds. Included in the specification is a reverser lever on the left of the steering wheel.
Electronics feature on most tractors these days, and on the Renault Drivetronic can be seen as the tractors nerve centre managing the main components such as dashboard displays, pto, diff-lock engagement, four-wheel drive and hydraulic linkage. It is the operation of the rear linkage which is perhaps one of the Ares most interesting features.
Designated yet another "onic" – this time the Tracto Control Electronic (TCE) – it allows the operator to specify the desired depth of working of an implement, with the system automatically calculating the draft and degree of wheel slip required to maintain this depth. Depending on your pocket, three degrees of sophistication are available. TCE 10 is the basic version with position and draft control, height limiter and a five-position memory switch to control all raise and lower operations. Draft control calls on TCE to calculate required draft forces in respect of working depth and record them in its memory with all subsequent draft corrections based on the set depth of work.
TCE 20 improves on the basic package by providing a ground speed sensor – radar – and wheel-slip control. Activating the system enables maximum permissible wheel-slip to be implemented.
TCE 30 is the bees knees in terms of linkage control, claims Renault. Offering all that is possible with the 10 and 20 options, the TCE 30 is designed to handle semi-mounted ploughs as if they were fully mounted. When programmed, a link is created between the tractors linkage and the ploughs depth wheel so they move in tandem. Synchronisation of lift and lower in respect of plough length ensures a level headland.
Bearing in mind that the first thing a prospective buyer will want to do with a new tractor is sit in the cab, it is no surprise that Renault has put some effort in to designing a "home from home".
Larger than has gone before, it would be a big man indeed who bangs elbows or heads in this one. Controls are usefully laid out – most on a console to the right – and a large expanse of glass ensures almost all-round visibility.
Buyers of the Ares 610 or higher models have the choice of the RZ suspended cab as used in other Renault tractors.
Overall, in the Ares, one is led to believe that Renault has developed a tractor of serious interest. Its success will, as ever, depend on price and dealer representation. *
Debut for Renaults Ares tractor range, with models from 85hp to 165hp.
*500 models available in the spring, 700 models available in the autumn. Prices include front weights and various fittings.