The test took place on the purpose-built ATV training and test course at Sparsholt College, near Winchester, in Hampshire. The course has been carved out into a hillside and presents a variety of features, including steep slopes, hummocks and water splash.
Conditions on the day were cold and wet. Rain during the preceding days meant some areas of the course were muddy.
Renowned for its motorcycles and quad bikes, Taiwanese company Kymco has developed its first side-by-side utility vehicle. And it is everything we expect. It's versatile. It's easy to drive. It's a superbly comfortably ride. Above all, it is practical. Whether you are operating across parkland, within the campus grounds or around the nursery, this machine has something to offer.
"This is very good," smiles MacPherson. "First I went round the quad track in high gear. Then I went round in low and found the engine braking was better. It's very sure footed - especially when you consider how slippery the course is today - it's a very capable machine with a good steering lock. I like it."
MacPherson is surprised quad bikes remain so popular and that more people don't make use of utility vehicles. Although turf trucks including the John Deere Gator and Toro Workman have been available for the turf market for many years, the all-terrain sector has been slow. The dominant Kawasaki Mule was only recently challenged by the introduction of the Yamaha Rhino and the Kubota RTV, and suddenly there were utilities from Cub Cadet (EP Barrus), Massey Ferguson and JCB. And we've heard a rumour that Honda is also looking for a slice of the action.
"Not many people work alone these days," points out MacPherson. "Estate workers and grounds care managers really need a vehicle with two seats and somewhere to carry the tools."
The Kymco is an ideal two-seater tool-carrying utility. It's got selectable two- and four-wheel drive to cope with a variety of conditions and fully independent wishbone suspension to front and rear for a comfortable ride. The seats are bucket type, rather than bench. After I sat down straight into a puddle, I for one would like to see a drainage hole in the bottom of the seats. Elsewhere, there is considerable attention to detail - such as the extra-strong wing mirrors that fold out of the way for those sites with narrow gateways or where protection is needed in a busy storage shed.
The UXV500 can travel, too. Dashing at speeds up to 45mph (72km/h), this is a good machine for rapid response or rescue situations in country parks and estates. We are not disappointed with the acceleration given by the single cylinder four-valve 498cc engine and the transmission is smooth.
Carrying capability is slightly less than we expect but it's ample for transporting tools. A tipping bed means it is easy to clean and you could shift small quantities of loose materials.
The vehicle has the kind of fun value that makes work a pleasure. But the operator's manual is a laugh. For instance, instructions on hazard lights say: "When you vehicle produced breakdown.you must stop your vehicle now.Pressing the switch. 1 checking you vehicle. 2 if meet big trouble.you can not myself repair. Pressing the switch.then calling other person to help you. 3 press the switch. Turn signals Light will flash simultaneously." Get the gist of it?
Engine: 498cc single-cylinder, four-valve, OHC, liquid cooled (33hp)
Transmission: Automatic, continuously variable
Gear box: High/low ratio with reverse with differential lock
Drive: Selectable two/four-wheel drive
Front suspension: Fully independent double wishbone 190mm travel
Rear suspension: Fully independent double wishbone 190mm travel
Tyres: 25x8-12 front/25x10-12 rear
Brakes: Twin discs hydraulic to front/single disc hydraulic to rear
Dimensions (LxWxH): 2.87m x 1.5m x 1.85m
Top speed: 72km/h
Cargo bed capacity: 200kg
Towing capacity: 454kg
Fuel tank: 32 litres
List price (inc VAT and delivery): £7,599
Contact Kymco on 01743 761107
Nigel MacPherson, engineering lecturer, Sparsholt College, Winchester