Reviews

Cracker Kwakas

Farm Trader takes a ride on four of Kawasaki's recently released models to its off-road utility and ATV range.

By Fraser Davey

Having tested the Mule range and the KVF650 4×4 ATV last year, I was keen to return to the Ararimu farm, south of Auckland, to check out the new models and what Kawasaki have done to improve an already acclaimed off-road range. The four models consisted of two new Mule 4×4 utility vehicles and two new KVF 4×4 ATVs.

The two new utilities in the Mule range are the Mule 610 4×4 and the Mule 3010 Trans 4×4. The 610 4×4 (KAF400-A1) replaces the KAF300 and is also available in a two-wheel drive version (KAF 400-B1).

Powered by a 401cc 4-stroke OHV single-cylinder engine, the Mule 600 range is billed by Kawasaki as the ideal 4×4 utility for farm use and is aimed at the 400cc quad market. As with the previous model, the new 600 has car-like controls, ie steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedals, seatbelts – and is just as easy to operate. The new 600 also features heavily revised styling giving the Mule a more modern, curvier look, and the pick-up style bonnet opens to reveal 48 litres of storage space. The tilting rear cargo bed is simple to use and has a load capacity of 181kg.

Transmission is a belt -driven CVT with a Hi-Lo dual transfer giving two forward speeds (a first in its class) and combined with the dual-mode differential ensures the Mule lives up to its name, easily climbing/descending some very steep paddocks. Front suspension is by way of an independent A-arm design, while the rear is a unit-swing arm type and does a great job. Brakes are hydraulic self-adjusting and are more than capable, bringing the Mule to a stop on the steepest of slopes.

The new Mule 3010 Trans 4×4 is the first utility in its class that converts from a two-person to a four-person vehicle. With a longer wheelbase and virtually the same mechanicals as the standard 3010, the Trans has two rows of seating, with retractable rear seats, which can be dropped in under a minute to provide a long wheelbase utility. This versatile feature is unique to Mule 3010 Trans 4×4, which Kawasaki says makes it ideal for the likes of forestry work, line work and pest control.

On to the ATVs
The two new ATVs are the revised KVF650 4×4 and the brand new KVF750 4×4. The KVF 650 was as much fun to ride as last year’s and made light work of any terrain put in front of it in a fast, fuss-free manner.

The new KVF750, on the other hand, felt a lot bigger in comparison, not only in physical size, but also in power delivery. The 750’s motor has so much torque and with 51hp on tap, it’s hard to see it ever getting stuck. While not quite as nimble as the 650, the 750 handled well, and the suspension and large padded seat make for very comfortable riding. Braking is superb, with twin 200mm discs with two-piston calipers up front and a tractor-type enclosed wet multi-plate rear brake providing excellent stopping power. Kawasaki is aiming the 750 more at sport and recreational users, with its aggressive styling and heaps of grunt.

All in all we were very impressed with the new machines from Kawasaki, in terms of both price and practicality, particularly the Mule 3010 Trans 4×4 with its super versatile seating system and extended cargo bed.

For more information contact your nearest Kawasaki dealer.

SPECIFICATIONS

Mule 610 4×4 (KAF400 A1)
Engine type: 401cc 4-stroke OHV, air-cooled, single cylinder
Power/Torque: 9.9kW@4000rpm/29.7Nm@2000rpm
Transmission: Automatic Hi-LO CVT with selectable 2WD/4WD
Differential: Rear-dual mode, Front-LSD
Front suspension: Independent A-arm with coil spring shocks
Rear suspension: Unit-swingarm with coil spring shocks
Wheelbase: 1779mm
Ground clearance: 170mm
Dry weight: 442kg
Fuel capacity: 15.5 litres
Price: $14,750 inc GST
Mule 3010 Trans 4×4 ( KAF620-E5)
Engine type: 617cc OHV, liquid-cooled V-twin
Power/torque: 14.7kW@3600rpm/47Nm@2500rpm
Transmission: Automatic Hi-Lo CVT with selectable 2WD/4WD
Differential: Rear-dual mode, Front-LSD
Front suspension: Independent MacPherson strut
Rear Suspension: Semi-independent, De Dion axle
Wheelbase: 2165mm
Ground clearance: 177mm
Dry weight: 668kg
Fuel capacity: 24.2 litres
Price: $21,495 inc GST ($22,495 for diesel)
KVF650 4×4
Engine type: 4-stroke 663cc SOHC, liquid-cooled V-twin
Power/torque: 30.9kW@6500rpm/52.1Nm@5000rpm
Transmission: Automatic Hi-Lo CVT with selectable 2WD/4WD
Front suspension: MacPherson strut
Rear Suspension: Swing arm with single shock absorber
Wheelbase: 1284mm
Ground clearance: 235mm
Dry weight: 273kg
Fuel capacity: 17 litres
Price: $14,995 inc GST
KVF750 4×4
Engine type: 4-stroke 749cc, liquid-cooled V-twin
Power/torque: 37.4kW@6500rpm/60.7Nm@5000rpm
Transmission: Automatic Hi-Lo CVT
Front suspension: Independent double wishbone
Rear suspension: Independent double wishbone
Wheelbase: 1283mm
Ground clearance: 269mm
Dry weight: 274kg
Fuel capacity: 20.5 litres
Price: $17,395 inc GST
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