Updated and refined from the previous model, the 3010, this Mule remains awell-thought-out vehicle but has all-new automotive styling and electronic power steering that is light at low speeds to make for easier manoeuvring when carrying a heavy load.
It is powered by a 953cc three-cylinder, high-torque, liquid-cooled, diesel engine, which Kawasaki says combines frugal economy with stamina to keep it going in the toughest of conditions. It is certainly smooth and relatively quiet, the engine bay being boxed more to deaden noise.
This is a machine built for brute torque and for many should prove ideal for getting personnel and equipment to inaccessible places. It is also built for hard work. It will carry around 500kg or lug 545kg of trailer and materials. There are mounting points under the front bumper to match a choice of winches.
Driving the Mule is simple. The automatic continuous variable transmission uses belts. It accelerates well, is smooth and provides ample power to make this machine a confident hill climber. There is one gearstick to give forward speed in two ranges - high or low - although we find most of our terrain can be covered in high. Move the stick down through the dogleg and you get reverse.
The new transmission gives improved engine braking on the downhills compared to previous models, but you still feel the need to brake on steep slopes. "In terms of speed control, the Kubota has the advantage travelling downhill. The Mule tends to get faster and faster, until you get to the point where you have to brake," Goodson explains. Topham would like to see Kawasaki's Trans vehicle, believing the ability to convert between two and four seats would be an advantage for the estate.
Overall, the machine feels stable and its performance is definitely nippy. It is also a comfortable drive. The chassis on the Mule 4010 rides on a DeDion rear leaf-spring suspension. McPherson struts take care of the front end.
There is a little bounce when the cargo box is empty and the long bench seat means that you can slide around when driving aggressively or cornering sharply. Seat belts are provided and the roll cage is sturdy.
The cargo box is a good size and well constructed. Latches on the tailgate are simple to operate - just like opening a gate - and we appreciate the mesh guard between the box and the driving compartment. It means that nothing is going to bounce out of the box and clout you in the back. There is more storage space in the form of a locker under the front hood.
With water iced over on test day, we miss the opportunity to check the engine and transmission air intake on the Mule, although it is clearly visible within the top of the ROPS frame. This should ensure ample clean, cool air is always available - even when travelling through deep water.
Engine: 953cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke, three-cylinder diesel
Transmission: Two-range automatic plus reverse, 4WD
Final drive: Front limited slip differential, dual mode rear differential
Wheel travel: Front: 100mm/Rear: 70mm
Tyres: 23x11-10 tubeless
Suspension: Front: independent McPherson strut/Rear: semi-independent DeDion axle
Brakes: Dual hydraulic drums front and rear
Ground clearance: 175mm
Fuel capacity: 24.2 litres
Curb mass: 788kg
List price + VAT: £8,909
Contact: Kawasaki Motors - 01628 856600
TESTED THIS WEEK
Kawasaki Mule 4010 Diesel 4x4
THE REVIEW PANEL
Simon Goodson, park warden, Charlecote Park, Warwickshire
Eddie Nolen, park and garden assistant, Charlecote Park, Warwickshire
Paul Smith, gardener, Charlecote Park, Warwickshire
Lisa Topham, parks and garden manager, Charlecote Park, Warwickshire
The team at Charlecote Park, a National Trust property in Warwickshire, continues to search for a utility vehicle that satisfies the needs of the garden and parkland work.
The estate includes both formal and informal gardens, plus more than 30ha of parkland where fallow deer have roamed since Tudor times. A vehicle is needed as a fast response unit and also to move personnel, equipment and tools.
In this test, we look at the suitability of the Kawasaki Mule and the Kubota RTV. Conditions on test day were cold and frosty.
For utility vehicle reviews, listings and buyers guides see whatkit.co.uk