Kubota RTV400Ci utility vehicle

Kubota RTV400Ci - image: HW
Kubota RTV400Ci - image: HW
This is Kubota's smallest and lightest vehicle and as such it is different to the rest of the range. It still has the rugged, go-anywhere capability of the others, but instead of a diesel engine, it has a single-cylinder, air-cooled petrol engine with electronic fuel injection for cold starts. The variable hydro transmission - something of a Marmite feature that you either love or hate on Kubota's other vehicles - is also replaced. The 400Ci has an advanced transmission with inertial clutch. Kubota calls it CVT Plus.

The wide platform means mounting and demounting is easy, while user-friendly controls make it a breeze to drive. Everything is where you expect it to be, and driving quickly becomes second nature. Within minutes, our testers are confidently riding the rough ground. The machine is confident, too. It has power, is agile, nippy and turns tightly.

"It's quick off the mark," comments Murray. "It has been up the same slopes as the John Deere, over the same ruts." Dynamic engine-braking provided by the CVT maintains control while descending slopes.

The suspension is firm - really firm - providing a much bumpier ride over the baked-hard ruts that Murray finds on land beyond the golf course, as well as increasing the vibration felt through the seat. It's also a noisy machine. "The noise gets tiresome after a while," says Alcock. All the testers find they slide on the bench seat, despite wearing lap belts.

The vehicle's compactness is one of its biggest advantages. "Size-wise it is convenient," says Handy. "It's barely bigger than a quad bike. I can see farmers using it to go out and check animals, or rangers using it to check on the deer in a country park."

A skid pan underneath implies this vehicle is meant for serious terrain. Braund manages to ground it on the peak of a large spoil heap, but its light weight means the problem is soon rectified. For Braund, the load space is also an issue. He needs to carry long-handled tools with him. The compact size of the cargo box means they would hang over the side. Yet for its modest size, this one can carry plenty of weight.

Engine: 404cc, 16hp single-cylinder, petrol, OHC, air-cooled, EFI
Transmission: CVT PLUS continuously variable transmission with inertial
Gear selection: Hi-Lo range forward, neutral and reverse
Drive system: 4WD with 2WD selection
Diff lock standard, hand-operated
Brakes: dry-disc brakes plus hand-operated parking brake
Steering rack and pinion
Suspension: Independent MacPherson strut-type front/semi-independent
Dimensions: (LxWxH) 269x139x182cm
Cargo bed: (LxWxH) 85x103x29cm
Wheelbase: 180cm
Ground clearance: 20.5cm
Turning circle: 7m
Payload capacity: 480kg
Towing capacity: 500kg
Weight: 565-570kg, depending on tyres
Fuel tank capacity: 20 litres
Top speed: 40kmph
Price: £7,800 plus VAT. Free roof and screen until the end of
Tel: Kubota - 01844 214500

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