The new 120-160hp M6 series is said to be the most ‘Euro spec’ tractor to emerge from Kubota’s factories in Japan as the manufacturer continues its efforts to secure a stronger foothold in the mid-size power sector.

Equipment levels are generous for the class in which the tractor competes, with front axle and cab suspension, load-sensing variable flow hydraulics (plus optional ‘power beyond’ circuit to drive a hydraulic motor) and a control console armrest all standard.

Beneath the freshly-styled engine hood and a nicely proportioned cab where interior quality and layout has gone up a notch or two, is a new Kubota transmission with no fewer than eight genuine powershift speeds within each of three ranges, and inside that cab, a touch-screen controller with precision farming and ISOBUS capabilities can be added.

These more up-market features are tempered by the pragmatic installation of mechanical spool valve operation, recognising that not all owners or operators of a tractor of this size are fussed about having fingertip-operated electric spools.

According to Henry Myatt, product manager for the M-family tractors at Kubota’s UK operation, a good deal of local market feedback went into the finished product.

“A lot of features originated in Japan but additional work by the European design and engineering group based in Paris ensured the M6 design meets European market expectations and preferences,” he said.

“And it’s a brand-new tractor, not just a ‘Stage 5’ update of the MG-X,” he emphasised. “The MG-X continues as a more utility alternative at a lower price with an overall simpler specification and fewer features.”

Farmers in the market for this size of tractor are offered a choice of three M6 series power outputs, ranging from 123hp for all types of work apart from road travel, when an extra 20hp becomes available, to outputs of 143/163hp from the M6-142.

Kubota’s ‘oversize’ four-cylinder V6108 engine is used again, providing an unusually large 6124cc swept volume for a four-pot tractor engine that helps develop decent torque levels.

“Added to having 95% of the maximum power output available from 1900rpm down to 1500rpm, which coincides with peak torque output, the engine delivers really good performance for ploughing and similar draft work,” said Mr Myatt.

All this muscle is channelled through Kubota’s own 24x24 transmission, configured with three ranges and eight powershift speeds, with shifting to the highest ratio prompting a drop in revs for a quieter, more economical 40kph cruise.

Field and road modes can be selected for auto-shifting within each range; or the operator can shift manually by pulsing the multi-function controller on the armrest console forwards for up-shifts, backwards for down-shifts.

Pressing a button on the underside of the controller at the same time engages range shifts, while Plus and Minus buttons on the inner side of the console make it easier to shift gears while concentrating on rear-mounted equipment.

Likewise, a slim double-headed arrow button on the controller duplicates the job of the left-hand forward/reverse shuttle lever, which has the additional function of actively selecting neutral with a downwards push.

Some operators will not like that the lever always returns to the central position after selecting forwards or reverse because it gives no quick visual or tactile reminder as to which has been engaged; only the icon on the digital instrument panel provides a visual cue.

On a positive note, the lever itself is positioned close enough to the steering wheel rim to be easily within reach of the stubbiest finger and its shape provides a good surface for positive movement.

Transitioning between forward and reverse is completed both progressively and smoothly if engaged without stopping.

The console-mounted multi-function controller is also well-designed in as much as it provides a natural shape for the palm of the hand.

Only a very light and short push is needed to up-shift gears, which is great, although on first acquaintance it is easy to up-shift inadvertently when pressing one of the other face-mounted function buttons, such as either of the two engine speed memory buttons.

Xpress Re-start is Kubota’s name for another transmission function, the increasingly familiar one that allows the tractor to be brought to a halt on the brake pedal alone and to get it going again simply by releasing that pedal.

It’s a handy function for repeated round baling stop-starts and for negotiating road junctions – it is engaged or switched off using a brightly lit button towards the bottom of the dash panel.

Back on the armrest console, there are the usual exposed and hidden dials and neat rubberised membrane buttons to set-up the hydraulics, auto diff-lock functions, engine speed memories, and so on, plus one that is unique to a Kubota tractor – the Bi-Speed turn selector.

With this engaged, the tractor’s front axle is driven through a second gear set once the steering passes an adjustable pre-set angle that speeds up the front wheels to pull the front end through a tight turn.

“It’s a proven feature from other tractors in the Kubota range that can be used to good effect in a tight yard or building, or when working on a narrow headland,” said Mr Myatt.

“Together with the front suspension and generous ground clearance that comes with the portal axle design, it gives the M6 tractor a unique package of features.”

Kubota M6 series

Model Draft power Transport power

M6-122 123hp 143hp

M6-132 133hp 153hp

M6-142 143hp 163hp

Transmission: 24x24 - three ranges, eight powershift speeds with auto-shifting road and field modes

Hydraulics: 115-litre/min load-sensing piston pump, manual spool valves

Linkage: Rear – 7000kg; front (option) – 3260kg

PTO: Rear – 540/540E/1000/1000E; front (option) – 1000