Kawasaki was the first to introduce a utility that could be converted into a four-seater (the Trans 4x4). Such a good idea was bound to be taken up elsewhere. Murray folds down a section of the rear box and puts up the second row of seats. "It's so intuitive," he says. "There are diagrams here, but you don't need to look at them because it's clear what you need to do." Converting the vehicle from big box to four seats takes less than 30 seconds - no tools needed.
Powered by the Kubota D1105 three-cylinder diesel engine, with 24.8hp, this utility has plenty of muscle, good acceleration and the ability to take on most tasks and terrains. Murray appreciates the versatility of the vehicle and enjoys the ride too. "On the flat it is a nice smooth ride, but this one also gives a comfortable and stable ride over rough tracks. It feels controllable and doesn't bounce you around too much," he says. "I've just found some ruts that are at least nine inches deep but I maintained good control - it climbed out the ruts easily; there was no tugging at the steering."
In terms of power, the RTV1140 packs a punch, and the three gear ratios and speed ratios are spot on. Lo is adequately low and Hi gives a good speed for open ground areas. What's more, the engine-braking is first class. You may or may not like the RTV's Variable Hydro Transmission, but there is no denying it means you can tackle hills with strong acceleration, hold the vehicle steady on a slope and descend under engine-assisted deceleration. Wet disc brakes stop the machine quickly.
Murray is impressed: "It's got a good speed on the flat, you can easily whizz around the site and the brakes are good. There is plenty of grip and going downhill is fine. It goes down on the transmission - the engine braking is good - I didn't even have to touch the brake."
MacPherson strut-type suspension on each of the front wheels provides good shock absorption and also minimises body tilt when traversing slopes. Each rear wheel has a semi-independent suspension-type DeDion axle - the leaf spring and shock absorber act together to reduce bumps and jolts. "It's a good vehicle, really grippy," says Alcock. "It didn't struggle at all. I found it a very comfy ride."
We like the instrument panel; it is clear and easy to read, which allows you to concentrate more on the driving. This one has a dial speedo, in mph, alongside the fuel gauge and monitor lamps for oil level, battery function and handbrake.
Kubota RTVs were the first in their class to be equipped with hydrostatic power steering. The 1140 has it too. And it's appreciated. It makes cornering and turning easier, giving this long wheelbase vehicle some agility. Having a long wheelbase also aids stability, but it does mean the turning circle is wide. "When you are manoeuvring in tight spaces, you have to do more reversing to get the vehicle round," says Handy.
We reckon this vehicle will prove ideal in lots of situations. On different tyres, it could be useful on golf courses as part of a fleet of kit - though perhaps not if you need a utility that can carry topdressers, spreaders or sprayers on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. Certainly, the 1140 will appeal to estate and site managers. Offered in forest camouflage colours, it will no doubt be at home in parkland, nature reserves and, of course, out hunting.
It is worth remembering that the long wheelbase can cause ground clearance issues on peaks and the tops of banks. I still don't know which tester took the vehicle up a double-bump spoil heap - when I saw it, the 1140 was firmly wedged between the two peaks and attempting to reverse it down had merely planted the tow hitch firmly into the ground. Anybody got a winch?
Engine: 24.8hp Kubota D1105-E3-UV 3-cylinder, water-cooled, OHV diesel
Transmission: variable hydro (VHT PLUS)
Gear selection: Hi-Med-Lo range forward, neutral and reverse
Drive system: 2WD or 4WD
Diff lock standard, foot operated
Brakes: dry-disc brakes plus hand-operated parking brake
Steering: hydrostatic power
Suspension: front/rear Independent MacPherson strut/semi-independent,
Dimensions: (LxWxH) 348x155x200cm
Cargo bed: (LxWxH) 136x132x29cm
Ground clearance: 21cm front axle/19cm rear
Turning circle: 10m
Payload capacity: 730kg
Towing capacity: 590kg
Weight: 1,075kg, depending on tyres
Fuel tank capacity: 30 litres
Top speed: 40kmph
Price: £14,260 plus VAT. Free roof and screen until the end of
Tel: Kubota - 01844 214500