The 855 has rear independent suspension and a top speed of 50kmph - it's fast. Now that it has electrically assisted power steering (optional), you never feel as though you are struggling or fighting for control. It also has downhill braking. Engine deceleration takes you down to about 2.5kmph. If you need to slow down further, just tap the brake.
The rear electrically tipping (optional) tailgate has also been improved. It now has an easy-to-use central lock rather than fiddly side catches and it has a handy measuring strip on the edge. The sides and tailgate are easy to remove if you want to carry a large load or palletted item. And, if you are into bling, you can opt for alloy wheels. The cab gives you lots of options. It can come with or without front and rear glass. Doors, if you want them, simply drop into the slots - no tools needed.
Operation is straightforward. Ratios are Hi and Lo, there is a Diff Lock and 4WD. This latest model also has a digital speedo and a bigger fuel tank to lengthen work time between refuelling. And, as we expect, there is the cup holder. Does anyone use those on a shake-it-up and spill-it-all-over all-terrain vehicle?
As John Deere's representative departs, he challenges us to get the vehicle stuck. We try. We fail. In fact, we use the John Deere to tow the RTV1140D out of its predicament between the peaks of the test site - a task it performs with ease. But first Murray checks out the hill-climbing ability by driving straight at an embankment. Much to everyone's surprise - and relief - the 855 simply hops up the bank and plants itself on the top. "It's impressive," shouts Murray. "They have kept the wheels right to the outside of the vehicle so it will climb a bank that is right in front of it."
Then he disappears, at speed, down a long track, but on his return he is a little concerned. "We did 32mph and it was running smoothly. I found some serious rutted ground - the vehicle was almost on the sump plate - but we sailed through even in Hi ratio," he says. "And then it wouldn't accelerate properly and was vibrating. I think the brakes seized. We rocked it and it seems fine now."
We are the fourth to test this demo vehicle in a matter of weeks and on each occasion there is no doubt it will have been pushed to its limit. For the rest of the test we have no problems.
We like the cab and the seats, while the whole build of the vehicle instils confidence. "It feels very stable and the seat holds you in place. You feel secure - even when traversing an incline. That's also helped by having three-point seat belts rather than lap belts," comments Murray.
The XUV855D sounds powerful and it is. It has bags of grip. The short wheelbase helps keep all the wheels on the ground and it's got lots of suspension travel. "It's my favourite for manoeuvrability," says Handy. "It is rugged and feels well put together. I like the electric tail lift; saves starting the engine."
Braund adds: "I found it really responsive and the suspension is so comfortable. It's fast and its off-road capability is fantastic."
Alcock agrees: "It's a comfy ride and if you ignore the alloy wheels it's not gimmicky. We tried our best to get it stuck, but we didn't succeed."
If you bought the original XUV855, you might like to upgrade to the new version as soon as possible.
Engine: 854cc, 24.9hp 3-cylinder, water-cooled, OHV diesel
Transmission: 2-speed continuously variable (CVT)
Gear selection: Hi-Lo range forward, neutral and reverse
Drive system: 4WD selectable
Diff lock standard, hand-operated
Brakes: hydraulic disc brakes plus hand-operated parking brake
Steering: electrically assisted power
Suspension: front/rear independent dual A-arm with adjustable
coils/fully independent dual A-arm and sway bar
Suspension: travel 203cm front/229cm rear
Dimensions: (LxWxH) 302x157x190cm
Cargo bed: (LxWxH) 114x132x30cm
Carrying capacity: 454kg
Ground clearance: 26.7cm
Payload capacity: 635kg
Towing capacity: 680kg
Fuel tank capacity: 20 litres
Top speed: 52kmph
Price: Starts at £12,227 plus VAT
Tel: John Deere - 01949 860491