Test: Kubota M7-172 Premium

By: Jaiden Drought and Harrison Hunkin, Photography by: Jaiden Drought and Harrison Hunkin


Kubota’s updated range of M7 tractors mainly focuses on extra spec levels

Alt TEXT HERE
The second-generation Kubota M7-172 Premium is the latest mid-horsepower tractor from the brand

In an industry filled with brand loyalty, many Asian countries have gallantly tried but ultimately failed to break the global tractor market. Except one – Kubota. Kubota has long been the pin-up girl you could say for the Asian tractor market.

Thanks to its Jack Russel-like tenacity, Kubota has successfully become a thorn in the side of both the Europeans and Americans. This has a lot to do with its ever-improving high horsepower range. Building on its long-running success in its small equipment options, the latest M7-2 range of tractors is starting to make some serious inroads here in New Zealand and Australia.

Sweet (orange) tractor

Alt TEXT HERE
Giving the tractor a spin on a strawberry farm, the auto-shift seemed better suited to the field rather than the road

For this test review of the Kubota M7-172 Premium, we headed to the glorious Sunshine Coast in Queensland. It was a strawberry farm that was ironically filled with oranges (tractors).

Humid conditions resembled a sauna, but the farmer had recently seen some much-needed rain – one-metre in fact – so the Kubota had some sandy soil to compete with. The test tractor was the second-generation Kubota M7-172 Premium, the Japanese brand’s latest mid-horsepower tractor.

It’s a striking machine, with the bold orange paint job contrasting nicely against the green field. However, it looks very familiar. That’s because the new M7-2 hasn’t really received any cosmetic changes.

The main difference between the new M7-2 and its previous model is its extra spec levels. There are now four options: the Standard, Deluxe (new), Premium, and the Premium KVT.
We can’t say it really bothers us; there is plenty to like about the M7-2 which we will get to; however, a negative to this lack of physical change is the bragging rights.

A fantastic looking ride, but how can one expect to showboat to thy neighbour? Picture this, you’re humming up the road with your fresh Kubota M7-2 but your neighbour would merely think you’ve finally polished the bonnet of the old one.

Engine

Alt TEXT HERE
It was so quiet when working, the reviewers thought they hadn’t dropped the hoe in the ground

Enough aesthetics – let’s get to the fun stuff. Under the bonnet, the latest Kubota uses its very own four-cylinder, tier 4 final engine that pushes out a maximum 168hp (125kW) plus a 5hp (3.7kW) boost.

A reliable engine, the Kubota is able to reach tier 4 final from the perky four cylinders using the usual diesel particulate filter (DPF), exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC), and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) wizardry. 

20200302_123500.jpg

Displacement-wise, the Kubota engine is a 6.1-litre powerplant, which is why this four-cylinder keeps up with many of its six-cylinder competitors. We found this so on the day when using a Kuhn rotary hoe in a boggy field.

Conditions resembled quicksand, as you could expect when that loose fruit/veggie soil gets smashed with a metre of rain. However, the Kubota just plugged along nicely. It never complained, never threw a tantrum of noise; in fact it was so quiet when working that we thought we hadn’t dropped the hoe in the ground. Safe-to-say, that four-cylinder has some go.

Transmission

Alt TEXT HERE
The new models feature a much smoother six-speed, five-range box that also includes creeper gears, giving it a further 24 gears

The new M7-2s use ZF transmissions. Being the Premium machine, it had the semi-powershift trans, which we found quite impressive. Unlike the previous M7 Kubotas, the new models feature a much smoother six-speed, five-range box that also included creeper gears, giving it a further 24 gears.

178a7771.jpg

We found the six powershifts in each range to be more than capable, especially when combatting changes in soil conditions. Shifts are simply made by pushing up or down on the hand controller.

The tractor tested was a 50km/h variant, which offers front suspension and auto shifting capabilities. Personally, we felt the auto-shift suited better while working in the field than when driving on the road, a slight lag between ranges was a bit niggly.

Cabin

Alt TEXT HERE

On a hot and humid day, the cabin
provided a cool and comfortable refuge

First up, the upgraded seat on this new M7-2 was a big positive. It was comfortable, well-made, and easily adjustable for operators of any height. This seat combined with the easy-reaching armrest is a key addition to this machine.

M7002---Studio-Lever_Terminal.jpg

It’s worth pointing out that the day we drove this machine, the mercury tipped out at 35 degrees Celsius, and don’t forget the humidity, so we treated this cabin like a shrine. With the aircon at full-whack and the engine quietly going about its business, this is a cabin you’d happily work in for days on end. Many competitors could take note.

Hydraulics, linkage, and PTO

Alt TEXT HERE
With boosted hydraulics, five rear spools, and a 9.4-tonne life capacity, this machine will handle any kit you have 

Kubota has boosted its hydraulics, increasing pump flow from 80L/min to a very impressive 110L/min, which is sure to increase work capacity and please spec freaks. Combine this with the five rear spools and a 9.4-tonne lift capacity and it has more than enough to lug around any kit you have lying around your ranch.

Power take-off-wise, the M7 comes with four speeds, 540/1000, and associated eco modes.
The test model wasn’t fitted with front linkage. However, this can be optioned on all specification models along with Kubota’s own LM series loader as an optional extra.

Verdict

Alt TEXT HERE
Despite boggy conditions, the M7-172 handled it quietly with ease

The Europeans and Americans should be worried about Kubota’s M7-2 range of tractors. We think many will be surprised with what’s on offer. What’s next for Kubota – the anticipated M8? Perhaps not for a while, so this sleek, comfortable underdog from Japan with a strong history of reliability, the M7-2, certainly keeps the brand at the pointy end of tractor making.

Pros

  • Comfortable,
  • well laid-out cab
  • Quiet four-cylinder large displacement engine
  • Improved ZF transmission
  • Top-notch suspension package
  • Huge touchscreen monitor
  • Well-built with a five-year warranty

Cons

  • Sensitive clutch
  • Not too different from its predecessor
  • Rear guards vibrated a bit at low speed

Kubota M7-172 Premium specifications

Engine

Direct injection, water-cooled 4 cycle diesel

Cylinders 4
Max power 168hp (@ 1900 engine rpm)
Boost power +5
Emissions  Tier 4
Fuel capacity 330L 
Transmission Semi-Powershift CVT
PTO 140hp (@ 2000 engine rpm)
Wheelbase 2720mm
length 4770mm
Total height  3030mm
Total weight 6848kg

Find farm machinery for sale in NZ

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Farm Trader's free newsletter or liking us on Facebook