A Chinese-built range of small tractors has been rebranded and upgraded for 2019, with the latest and third generation of the established series being introduced by its UK importer.

The 25hp, 35hp and 50hp models are imported and supported by Kent business, Foton Tractors – they were previously sold under Foton branding – but will now wear the Lovol name of the parent company.

The UK importer says that while the new name will not affect the service and support systems it provides, a new generation of upgraded tractors will wear the rebranded livery of the re-styled machines.

Model numbers stay the same. The 25hp M254 is a three-cylinder machine, while the 35hp M354 and 50hp M504 are four-cylinder tractors. All meet Stage 3A emission regulations and come standard with four-wheel-drive and with either a roll bar or full cab.

A key upgrade on the re-designed Lovol M254 and Lovol M354 models is a four-speed, two-range synchromesh transmission with side-mounted levers, replacing the former constant mesh unit with central straddle-type transmission tunnel. This creates a flat-floor platform, with the synchro-shuttle lever sited on the dashboard to the left of the steering column.

Built on a larger platform, the M504 also now has side-mounted gear levers, but benefits from an additional speed range to create a 12 forward/12 reverse synchro transmission, again with shuttle. Like the smaller tractors, it benefits from a new cab designed by Lovol’s European team.

This has side console controls, upgraded air conditioning, better seating and full steering wheel adjustment. The range leading model measures 1.65m wide and, in cabbed format, is just over 2.5m high.

Pto engagement is with a new electro-hydraulic switch and radial rather than cross-ply tyres are fitted for better traction. A new front axle on the M254 and M354 provides greater ground clearance.

At the rear, the Category I three-point linkage on the M254 and M354 lifts a maximum 720kg, while the figure for the M504 is 910kg. All are fitted with two spool valves and a 540/1000rpm pto.

They also meet the EU ‘Tractor mother regulations’ (TMR), which are designed to enhance operator, environmental and road safety. To this end, they incorporate features such as double external mirrors on each side, dual-line hydraulic trailer brakes, key-secured bonnets and automatic pto disengagement when the operator leaves the seat.

“The M254 and M354 tractors have been our main sellers here in the UK, and there remain a number of gen-2 models available for a time yet, for those happy to trade off a lower price against the older specification,” said Tom Curtis, of Foton Tractors.

“Thanks to the compact dimensions of the smaller models, we are also hoping to expand our market into new areas. For example, as the M254 and M354 can be specified to ensure they are only 1.5m wide and 1.85/1.90m high when cabbed, they are especially suited to the requirements of tabletop strawberry growers, who look for a tractor of these dimensions to fit their growing systems.”

The UK importer has sold these tractors for for more than a decade and around 900 units are now reckoned to have been retailed here. “While, in recent years, we have retailed between 60 and 80 units a year, our aim is to double this to in the region of 120-150,” said Mr Curtis.