Review: JCB Fastrac 8330

By: Harrison Hunkin


The JCB Fastrac 8330 and its slick 8.4-litre 348hp engine is the fastest production tractor in the world.

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The Fastrac 8330 uses the well-known 8.4L Agco Power engine that pushes out 348hp (260kW) and 1440Nm of torque

The impressive JCB Fastrac is many things. One thing Britain’s incumbent king of tractors isn’t, however, is boring, which is exactly why we decided a test review of the Fastrac 8330 was needed.

Having never driven a JCB before, I was more than happy to spend an extra day getting to know this machine before getting behind the wheel. Tested at a farm about 40 minutes west of Toowoomba, we were fortunate to have at hand the flagship 8330 model – the largest and most powerful JCB tractor ever made.

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Engine

Under the bonnet, the Fastrac 8330 uses the well-known 8.4-litre Agco Power engine that pushes out 348hp (260kW) and 1440Nm of torque.

We had no complaints with the engine in our time with the Fastrac 8330; it was slick, powerful, and responsive, thanks to its turbocharger, which gave it acceleration like no other tractor we’ve ever driven and a top speed like no other as well.

As most farmers and readers would be aware, the JCB Fastrac 8330 is currently the fastest production tractor in the world, with a top speed of 70km/h. But what’s impressive is how relaxed and at ease the Fastrac is when at that speed, and that’s a big tick.

Tier 4 final requirements and emission standards are met, thanks to selective catalytic reduction and diesel oxidation catalysts emission control systems.

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The four-pillar cab that’s situated in between the front and the rear wheels, with all-round suspension

Transmission

The Fastrac tractor range uses a continuously variable transmission with three main operating modes: Drive, Manual, and PowerShift. As this is the 8000 series Fastrac, our test machine was using the 70km/h box compared to the 60km/h transmission variant found in the 8000 series little brother, the 4000 series.

Getting the machine to move is easy via a combination of button presses on the pillar-mounted touchscreen monitor and the joystick controller.

Breaking down the three operating modes, the first and most commonly used will be ‘Drive’ mode – and it’s essentially like driving an automatic car. Use ‘Drive’ mode for transport work or paddock bashing.

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The Command Plus cab is one of the largest on the market

Simply press the ‘D’ button on the monitor and the tractors’ forward speed is controlled by the accelerator pedal. Operators can also choose between three acceleration response settings while in ‘Drive’ mode.

The second operating mode is ‘Manual’. This operating mode allows the operator to control and toggle between the forward speeds via the joystick controller on the armrest. Simply push the joystick to the right and the tractor’s speed will increase in increments, while pulling it to the left decreases speed. This is great for tillage work.

The final operating mode is straightforward. PowerShift essentially allows the operator to move between the speeds and range ratios like in a traditional Powershift transmission tractor. Speeds and range changes are performed by tapping the joystick right or left. The Powershift model has 15 speeds for fieldwork and 10 speeds for road use – perfect for the farmers who want to feel like they’re still working hard.

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Inside the cab, JCB has opted for a simple, no-fuss look

Operator environment and comfort

Yes, when you read the nameplate on the bonnet, it reads ‘Fast’Trac and that’s its big marketing point, but the Fastrac’s selling point is its comfort, as you won’t want to go fast in this thing without being comfortable.

This ‘comfort’ we speak of has something to do with its unconventional mid-mounted cabin, which JCB calls the Command Plus. Unlike the conventional tractor, the Fastrac has famously opted against a cabbed machine that sits upon its rear tyres, instead favouring a four-pillar cab that’s situated in between the front and the rear wheels. This truck-like cabin design coupled with all-round suspension makes for a truly impressive ride.

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In regards to the operator environment, well, it isn’t the fanciest on the market, but it’s certainly serviceable and user-friendly. JCB has opted for a simple, no-fuss look featuring grey solid plastics that are well put together.

Interestingly, we were told by Australian distributor JCB CEA that it will offer the Fastrac 8000 series with the leather seat (which rotates 70 degrees) as standard. There’s also a cool box under the seat to keep your lunch fresh.

But, by far the best thing about the Fastrac’s cabin is its visibility. The Command Plus cab is one of the largest on the market and uses ‘forward-raked’ A-pillars to make the doorways bigger and increase the interior spaciousness.

At a time when operator safety and fatigue management is an essential selling point, the JCB has hit the nail on the head with its Command Plus cab.

Hydraulics, linkage, and PTO

At the rear, the Fastrac is a pretty good draft horse. It features Category III rear hitches and has a rear lift capacity of 10 tonnes. At the front, JCB says it will carry 3.5 tonnes.

The Fastrac also has a substantial load deck situated behind the cab, which can be used to carry ballast weights ranging from 900kg to 1600kg to improve traction.

Power take-off (PTO) speeds are fairly standard on the Fastrac. There’s a 540E and 1000rpm and an optional front PTO at 1000rpm as well as electric raise and lower engagement.

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The rear features Category III rear hitches and has a rear lift capacity of 10T

The in-cab armrest features the now typical colour-coded mechanical spool levers to control the machine’s hydraulics, which has a flowrate of 137 litres per minute, with the option of boosting that up to 178 litres per minute.

Summary

The fact the British-built JCB Fastrac manages to service both a top speed of 70km/h along with fantastic comfort shouldn’t surprise anyone because JCB has been making impressive machines for a long time.

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At 70km/h, this is one speedy tractor

The UK was once a manufacturing juggernaut, producing the world’s greatest machines that worked as both innovative feats and style icons.

However, the old names are now few. Bentley, Rolls-Royce, and Mini are now German; MG is Chinese. Land Rover and Jaguar are Indian while Vauxhall is now French.

Aston Martin and McLaren are arguably all that’s left of the British manufacturing icons, but I think it’s only right that Lord Bamford and his ‘very’ British JCB sits among them.

JCB FASTRAC 8330 SPECIFICATIONS

Engine Six-cylinder 8.4L Tier 4 Agco engine

Max power

348hp (260kW)

Max torque 1440Nm
Fuel tank capacity 600L
Transmission 70km/h CVT
Max lift capacity 10,000kg
Max hydraulic output 137L/min
PTO 540rpm, 1000rpm

PROS

  • Twin calliper ABS disc brakes all-round
  • 70km/h top speed
  • Tried and tested Agco engine
  • Extremely comfortable

  • Fun to drive

CONS

  • Lagging behind the modern cabs from competitors
  • Stereotyped as a ‘niche’ machine

 

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