Reviews

TTSO 2017: Fendt 716 S4

Often described as the Rolls Royce of tractors, the Farm Trader Top Tractor Shoot Out was the perfect place to determine whether this statement is justified

Four guys, eight tractors, and three days to test drive and assess each was a mammoth task. So was the Fendt really the Rolls Royce? If I told you now, you wouldn’t have to keep reading, but I will say this – the new forest green colour scheme is a nice touch.

Engine

Let’s start up front where all the noise and commotion comes from. Although Fendt updated its 700 series last year to meet Stage IV (Tier 4F) emissions, visibly from the outside, square lights and a slightly higher bonnet are all that tell the S4 (new) apart from the previous SCR. The six-cylinder Deutz TCD 6.1-itre engine is the same.

The SCR system has been tweaked to combine a passive particulate filter and to deal with the additional heat is a 15% more powerful cooling system. Fendt has taken a more complicated route here than some of the other tractors tested, with three out of the eight tractors in our lineup only needing AdBlue, while the Claas Axion 930, being Tier 2, only needed diesel.

The Fendt combines EGR, SCR, and a passive DPF. To be fair, this does regenerate while driving, doesn’t use any additional fuel for regen, and is a ‘life of the tractor’ part. It may seem a bit complicated for us here in New Zealand when it is unnecessary. However, this is now the way of the world.

The Fendt 716 did provide plenty of capacity between stops, though, with
a sizable 400-litre diesel and 38-litre AdBlue tank.

Transmission

Personally, I think this is where the Fendt does stand out over some of its rivals, without the ‘my transmission is better than your transmission argument’. The well-refined engine/gearbox control was the clincher for me. The benefits of this were particularly evident on the Herron trailer (weighing in at 21 tonnes).

While we had too much play in the towing eye to be strictly street legal, pulling it at top speed through a paddock did show how smooth the uptake and deceleration was on the Fendt, even in both driving functions – stick and pedal mode.

However, the Fendt was one of the only two tractors requiring a manual range change while stationary. I can see why they do it, as it does give you more precision at lower working speeds and quicker uptake, but if six out of the eight tractor brands don’t need this, maybe it is a little old school?

Fendt --8

Serviceability

Fendt label the bonnet as one-piece. I don’t know if I would stretch that far, as there are two side panels that need to be removed for servicing. But to be fair, this is not for daily maintenance. A big plus is that you do not require tools to open the side panels.

The new ZF front axle over the previous Dana still gives great comfort, with the self-levelling front axle suspension with 100mm suspension travel (50mm +/- midpoint).
The main advantage is the allowance for a higher payload. The Fendt 716, with a maximum weight of 12.5 tonnes and a tare weight of 7.38 tonnes allows a healthy load of more than five tonne to be added. This new front axle sets the Fendt apart, making it the most nimble of all the tractors we tested, with an impressively tight 11.3m turning circle.

Cab/controls/user-friendliness

The cab is probably one of the most important aspects of any tractor. Although not the biggest in our lineup, the Fendt does have a nice, well-refined cab. I’ll start with my favourite feature: the large 300-degree wiper, closely followed by the five-pillar cab.

Fendt calls it the ‘VisioPlus cab’, which essentially is a large one-piece front windscreen and allows for exceptional forward visibility, particularly handy for those wanting to fit a loader.

In terms of controls, the joystick is well laid out and easily provides the most functions on any joystick of all the tractors tested, with two spools, two separate headland management sequences, two engine pre-set rev buttons, two cruise control settings, plus directional change. Best of all is that these can all be controlled with one thumb.

The 10.4-inch Vario terminal is good and, as you would expect from Fendt, is well finished with the new borderless LCD display, 800 x 600 pixels, and 16 million colours, plus a full glass front and a new age look – so this thing is the daddy.

However, it must be said that others are easier to navigate around, particularly when starting from no previous experience. From a functionality point, controls can be switched to different locations (which includes front and rear hitches), and Quick Key operation allows specific functions to be pulled up quickly (hence the name).

Different operators can set up the machine for different implements and store to reboot later, with settings for up to 25 implements available.
In terms of ride comfort, the Fendt 716 was top-notch and the only tractor to have four-point air cab suspension as standard. These machines now come standard with air cab suspension, as well as tractor and trailer brakes (both on air) for increased comfort and braking safety.

A hydraulic trailer brake is also standard. The right-hand armrest was comfortable and had adjustment for individual operators, as well as the foot operated height and tilt-adjustable steering column, which proved to be a favourite among the judges.

Hydraulics

The separate hydraulic and transmission oil is a real plus and with 64 litres of available hydraulic oil as well as an in-cab electronic indicator, daily checking is kept to a minimum. Up to five rear and two front spools can be spec’d. The model we tested had five spools. The flow rate on one spool is limited to 102 litres per minute. This was shown in our own independent testing by DPS, with 100 litres per minute recorded.

Switching controls to the desired position on the monitor is easy. External controls are limited to one spool and only on the left-hand side (PTO and linkage are on both). Other tractors tested had up to two, as well as controls on both rear mudguards. Also, when a timer is set on the spool, you only have the timed control, either +/- or float, with no proportional control in between.

Fendt --4

Linkage/PTO

The new S4 now offers a full four-speed PTO with both 540 and 1000 plus eco
modes. Speed and control for the PTO is all electronically selected and soft start-up
is standard.

The force is mighty on the Fendt 716 when it comes to the updated backend where new geometry allows for an 85cm lift range and rated 10.3-tonne lift capacity. Although the tractor only weighs 7.4 tonnes, this should prove more than ample.

Performance

Given that the Fendt was the smallest tractor in our competition, with the lowest dyno figures, you would be forgiven for thinking it was battling. However, although it couldn’t match the big boys (which boasted twice the horsepower), it wasn’t the poorest performer on either the 3.5m Sumo Trio or the Herron trailer.

This is mainly due to operator comfort, the smooth transmission, and control layout. Although underpowered in all the tasks we threw at it (including a 21-tonne loaded trailer), it still managed to punch above its weight.

Verdict

So back to my original question – is the Fendt 716 the Rolls Royce? There is
no denying this is a well-made machine with high-quality components, excellent build quality, and high levels of operator comfort. The Fendt is Profi Plus as standard, so comes with VarioActive steering and Varioguide is also fully integrated.

So in that respect, the answer is yes. It is something of a Rolls Royce. Poor PTO performance and high litres per horsepower per hour figures were disappointing (although the machine had only done five hours. which does make a difference). The higher price tag is something individuals must weigh up for themselves.

High residual values are an upside of this, but during our test we established they may not be an ideal fleet machine due to others being better to ‘jump in and go’.
Having said that, Farm Trader editor Lisa Potter did manage to drive the Fendt “arguably the most complex tractor on the market” with no problems. I’m not saying she ‘cheated’ but it does help that the operators manual is fully integrated into the terminal, another feature unique to Fendt.

Top features

  • Quality five-pillar cab
  • VarioActive steering standard
  • Fully integrated Varioguide
  • Double acting rear linkage
  • Tightest turning circle
  • Separate hydraulic and transmission oil

For complete specifications, check out the latest issue (#243) of Farm Trader

Previous ArticleNext Article
Send this to a friend