Earlier this year, Deutz-Fahr introduced the #AlwaysOn tractor, promising a significant step forward for high-horsepower, flagship machines. Matthew Tilt jumped on the seat to see how it handles.
The latest introduction to the Deutz-Fahr tractor range is an indication of the company’s focus for the future. Dubbed the #AlwaysOn tractor, the 8280TTV is a low weight, high horsepower machine developed to offer extensive connectivity and excellent pulling power for the heavy-duty cash crop segment.
The first thing you notice when you see the tractor is its imposing size. Shod in 710/70 R42 Michelin tyres, it looks every part the powerful tractor and backs this up with 287hp under the bonnet, meeting Stage V emissions regulations and featuring dual turbochargers and a maximum torque offering of 1,226Nm.
Working in combination with the engine is the latest transmission from Deutz. The continuously variable T7780 compound gearbox utilises mechanical and hydrostatic elements (with a fully hydrostatic reverse function) said to provide seamless gear changes with minimal losses.
Given the wet November weather, fieldwork was out of the question when we arrived at the Same Deutz-Fahr UK headquarters but that didn’t mean there wasn’t the opportunity to put the tractor to the test. Hooking up a two-thirds full NC Engineering trailer, we had around 15 tonnes we could pull on the road providing ample chance to test the new transmission.
Climbing into the cab, the rear suspension, which has been moved further towards the centre of the tractor, automatically adjusts to the operator’s weight. There’s also plenty of space in the cabin, with storage for any essentials and room around the pedals to place your feet when working with the lever. The armrest is well laid out and the terminal is clear, as is the digital dashboard.
It is a bright cab as well, with excellent visibility through the large expanse of glass. The cumulative effect of the steering column design and the position of the exhaust means that the driver has a clear view of the front axle and, therefore, any front attachment.
We’re not in the habit of telling readers how to suck eggs, so there’s no need for details on how a CVT tractor drives. Focusing on the actual experience of driving the 8280 TTV, it certainly impressed on the road. Despite looking and feeling like a big tractor, it had an excellent turning circle and handled the schooltime traffic rush through the nearby village well.
Using the pedal, rather than the lever, to control forward speed takes some getting used to due to the proportional set-up. The tractor is rated to 60kph, so when the pedal is halfway down the 8280 is working to reach 30kph. This means that the slightest adjustment to the pressure on the pedal can make a significant difference to the forward speed, although the calibration of this can be altered by pulling back on the lever for more refined driving characteristics.
Instead, when possible its far easier to use the pre-set cruise control functions or the driving lever to adjust forward speed. Most impressive is the acceleration and the way that the gearbox works with the engine to maintain fuel efficiency. On the day we evaluated it, the 8280 TTV had been setup with 50kph and 60kph cruise control, hitting the button for 60kph when going uphill, it very quickly reached 50kph and continued working until we reached 60kph.
While you were aware that the tractor was working hard to reach the desired speed, it remained quiet in the cab and there was no sensation of the gears shifting. It reached 60kph just before the brow of the hill and when we were on the flat, the engine revs dropped from around 2,000rpm to 1,850rpm – which reduced further to just 1,550rpm when we dropped to 50kph.
On the downhill, the engine works to offer plenty of stopping power. Pulling back on the lever or releasing the pedal was enough to stop at most junctions. In addition to this, the high-performance dry disc brakes on the front axle, with large wet disc brakes at the rear, ensured that we could safely come to a halt even when travelling at 60kph.
According to David Jefferson, product specialist for Deutz-Fahr, the tractor is equipped as standard with an intelligent trailer braking system (Advanced Trailer Brake Management), which will automatically recognise the braking potential of the attached trailer and adjust the hydraulic flow to suit. There is also the option of engine braking.
“In the field when using driven-axle implements, we can extend the safety of the machine even further with the Trailer Stretch function which ensures continuous drive even when the tractor is ‘coasting’ downhill. This means that the operator has full power available to them when they reach the headland,” he said.
A neat feature when working on hilly terrain or using the tractor for road work is the PowerZero function. Without using the clutch or brake pedal, the tractor can hold on inclines – this is particularly handy at traffic lights, for example, or busy junctions. When we tried it on the ramps in the Deutz-Fahr yard, it held with the weight of the trailer behind it.
One thing we did find with the new 8280 TTV is the combination of suspension systems meant that the operator is subject to a lot of movement in the cab. The chair, cabin and tractor suspension seemed to work against each other at times, meaning that the tractor travelled smoothly over rough roads, but we were bouncing in the seat.
The front suspension, designed to eliminate nose-diving during braking, worked very well and one the whole, the tractor felt very stable even when travelling at 60kph.
During a final walk around the tractor, it’s clear that Deutz-Fahr have spent a lot of time fine-tuning the 8280 TTV. Small design choices make maintenance work quick and simple, including a one-piece bonnet for easier cleaning around the engine compartment and fold-out radiators. The integrated front linkage comes with exterior controls, as well as an ISOBUS port to meet the growing demand for complex equipment.
Mr Jefferson also highlighted the technology options available for the tractor. The #AlwaysOn tag isn’t hyperbole, the 8280 TTV is fully ISOBUS compatible, including Tractor Implement Management (TIM) functions, with the possibility to display ISOBUS functions through the 12-inch terminal.
As standard, it is equipped with a telematics module, with a one-year subscription to SDF Fleet Management included in the purchase price. Guidance options up to RTK are available as simple software updates and in a particularly neat touch, the company offers Xtend, with which operators can display the terminal screen onto a compatible tablet and control certain functions remotely.
“This could be particularly handy if calibrating a machine or checking for nozzle blockages on a sprayer,” Mr Jefferson explained. “The operator does not need to continually climb in and out of the tractor to complete the task. Using Xtend, they can also display a second page on the tablet during operation for a complete overview of the task.”
In conclusion, the 8280 TTV is a clear step forward for the company. Mr Jefferson noted on the day that Deutz-Fahr has been lacking a tractor in this bracket for some time and the 8280 appears to have all the required functions to suit contractors and large-scale farmers looking for a high-tech machine.