Antonio Carraro prides itself on producing versatile and compact tractors for specialised agriculture – but could its range prove an ideal fit for forestry? An invitation to find out was eagerly accepted.

IT’S Mike here, from Low Impact Forestry. You may remember me from my top-notch reviews of Haix boots, and socks from HJ Hall.

After being asked for my opinion on boots and socks for Forestry Journal, and duly reporting back with much gusto and enthusiasm, you can only imagine my excitement when I was approached to look at some actual real-life tractors. And not any old tractors either; I was getting the chance to put my bum in the seat of some top-quality machines from Antonio Carraro.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the brand, here is a brief overview. Founded in 1910 by Giovanni Carraro, and based in Campodarsego, Italy, the company is one of the world’s leading producers of compact tractors for specialised agriculture and civil maintenance, with tractors currently ranging from 26 hp up to 98 hp but – hold on to your penny loafers now – 110 hp is coming very soon! The variety and numerous applications of their machines makes them truly a top-name brand.

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It’s represented on our shores by Kirkland UK, operating out of Sutton Valance in Kent. Formed in 2005 but with history back as far as the late 1800s, Kirkland UK has grown to be one of the country’s leading suppliers of specialist equipment for vineyard and fruit orchard management, with all types of vineyard/orchard tractors and accessories available and an excellent reputation for servicing and support for its customers. 

Forestry Journal: The Mach 4 Tony was the headline attraction on the day.The Mach 4 Tony was the headline attraction on the day. (Image: FJ/Mike Tyson)

The main focus of the visit was to get my grubby paws on the range-topping Mach 4 Tony model, packing a 98-hp turbo Kubota engine, a Quadtrack system, CVT gearbox, Actio oscillating frame, plus many other features normally associated with much larger-capacity tractors. 

Straight away, the modern sleek lines really grab your attention, and the subtle dark colours work well. It’s clear to see this is a high-end product, with build quality and attention to detail at the forefront. For a compact tractor it has a real presence about it. The forester in me is instantly petrified of the curved glass though, I must admit. I use a cabless 50-hp machine in the woods, and the thought of glass makes me shudder with fear. Thankfully, there is a cabless version of the Mach 4 available, as well as a Mach 2 model that has tracks driving the rear, and two conventional wheels up front.

Walking around the machine, there are plenty of features to look at. The optional Air Cab offers great visibility all around, as well as efficient heating and an integrated air-conditioning system. Soundproofing, LED internal illumination, and air seat all add up to a very well-specced cabin that also ticks the ROPS and FOPS boxes. There is an armrest-mounted joystick multi controller (JMC) to allow quick and easy control of all hydraulics while on the move. 

Forestry Journal: The Mach 4's four independent tracks offer exceptional ground contact and weight distribution.The Mach 4's four independent tracks offer exceptional ground contact and weight distribution. (Image: FJ/Mike Tyson)

Outside, there are powerful LED work lights to help in those long winter months. A feature I noticed straight away was the exterior control for the rear linkage, something normally found further up the tractor pecking order. Hydraulic top link is an optional extra also, and the machine had the damping function on the rear linkage for road transfers (Cat 2 as standard). There is an independent 540 rpm PTO on the back, with progressive electro hydraulic engagement and synchronisation in all gears. You’ll also find two double-acting (one floating) and one single-acting distributors, plus one oil reflow with six rear hydraulic outlets and two double acting with four electric-controlled mini outlets. You should have no issues hooking up any implement to the rear of this machine.

The powerhouse that runs this beast is a stage-V next generation, four-cylinder, 16-valve turbo from Kubota, 3.8 litre in displacement, coming in 75 hp or 98 hp offerings. In short, it’s plenty powerful enough for virtually anything you can throw at it. This is mated to the Tony hybrid hydrostatic transmission, and this is where things get clever. The Tony transmission uncouples the forward speed from the engine speed via an electrical control system. This allows the tractor to travel from 0–30 km/h with no interruption to torque.

The four independent tracks are 350 mm in width and have a constant 1,000 mm length in contact with the ground on each corner, offering unparalleled ground contact and weight distribution. I based my whole company ethos on low-impact works, and this thing takes it to the next level.

Forestry Journal: The Mach 4 Tony's optional Air Cab offers great visibility all around the machine.The Mach 4 Tony's optional Air Cab offers great visibility all around the machine. (Image: FJ/Mike Tyson)

Ground compaction is very low, and the rear tracks follow perfectly in line with the front ones, reducing any ground damage when making sharp turns in tight spaces via the articulated Actio oscillating frame. This clever frame system allows up to 15 degrees of oscillation on the front axle, meaning obstacles such as deadwood and stumps can be navigated with that bit more confidence.

You’ll find six front ballast weights, front bull bar and lamp guards all sitting neatly with the optional front linkage. The overall weight with the air cab is a chunky 3,300 kg, but that’s to be expected with this level and specification.

That just about takes care of the tech specs. Well done to all who have stuck with me until now. 

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Next up I thought I’d cover the ride and cab as a place to be. Now, I’m just shy of six feet tall, and I can confidently say the seat is a comfy place to park yourself. The optional Grammar Air seat is very comfortable and handled the bumps and bouncing about on the test with aplomb. The joystick isn’t intrusive and sits ergonomically and ready to be used. The digital dash is clear, well laid out and easy to read and navigate. All the buttons and switches are solidly built and work as they should. A party trick of this machine and many others in the range is the reverse drive system (RGS). This is a cinch to use, and Ben from Kirkland kindly demonstrated how easy it is. All in all it took 30 seconds to do, and was slick and straightforward. 

The ride was good and, even though the tracks make it a little more bumpy than rims and tyres, I’d say it was more than manageable for daily use. It may be different in a real-world work situation, but I was more than impressed on the day I tried it out.

So, there are lots and lots of very positive things to sing about this machine. The build quality is absolutely top notch – I can’t convey that enough. There is a real premium feel about virtually every aspect. But as you’d well imagine, this level of quality comes at a price, and that might be the deal-breaker for many. This model comes in from a starting point of £102,000. Big numbers for a niche piece of kit, I concur. But it does what a lot of other machines would struggle with, and it does it very well. I have based my entire business model around a niche, and proved it works. So if you need an extremely capable, low-impact machine that is built to the highest standards, look no further than the Antonio Carraro Mach 4 Tony. 

Now, for the fellow machinery enthusiasts out there, you’ll be pleased to hear I also got to have a good gander at a few other models from the range. The Mach 4, as mentioned, is the range-topping beauty, but the machine at the complete opposite end of the range is just as good, in my opinion.

Forestry Journal: The Tigre 3200 has the same ACTIO oscillating frame as on the Mach 4.The Tigre 3200 has the same ACTIO oscillating frame as on the Mach 4. (Image: FJ/Mike Tyson)

The entry-level machine is the Tigre 3200, and it is brilliant. It starts at £13,000, which I think in today’s world isn’t bad at all for a brand-new machine. You get the same Actio oscillating frame as on the Mach 4, which is a great start. Power comes from a Yanmar direct injection diesel unit, producing 26 hp, mated to a 12-speed manual gearbox. The machine tips the scales at 960 kg, so is easily transported on a trailer. The seating position is great and even though it does feel small, it really feels capable too. A great option for when access is truly the limiting factor.

Next up was the mid-range TRX 5800 Tora. Now this is the Antonio Carraro equivalent of my AGT850, so I was very interested to see it up close. Considering my machine was built in 2017, it may well be unfair to compare them directly. But the difference was like night and day! The high level of workmanship and build quality I found on the Mach 4 was no different on the lower-level models. It has a supremely comfortable seat with great driving position, and a well-thought-out dash and controls.

Forestry Journal: The TRX 5800 is supremely comfortable, with a great driving position.The TRX 5800 is supremely comfortable, with a great driving position. (Image: FJ/ Mike Tyson)

The engine is Yanmar again, but is a supercharged 2.1-litre diesel this time, bringing 52 hp to the table, and transmission is via a 24-speed synchronised gearbox. Cat 1 rear linkage has a 2,200 kg lifting capacity. I think this tractor would make a great option to use with the smaller timber trailers available, as well as a decent-sized winch. As mentioned, I use a very similar tractor in my own set-up, and it is a very versatile piece of kit. This machine weighs in at 1,660 kg, so again is very easy and perfectly legal to move around on the road on a trailer behind a suitable tow vehicle. 

Forestry Journal: The TRX 5800 - a great option to use with a smaller timber trailer or winch.The TRX 5800 - a great option to use with a smaller timber trailer or winch. (Image: FJ/Mike Tyson)

Next up was new territory for me, with the articulated SRX 6800. This is a lump bigger in feel and stance from the 5800, and if you wanted a more solid base machine then it would certainly do the job. The articulation on this model would not be the first choice of some, but I think it would be useful if working in tight areas where access is paramount. With the rims on the narrow setting, this was a highly manoeuvrable unit. This particular machine had front linkage fitted, which would be great for a compact forestry blade to work in conjunction with a winch on the back.

Yanmar engine again, pushing out 66 hp this time. Transmission is up again to a 32-speed gearbox with 16 in each direction. As expected, weight is up, with entry level at 1,870 kg, so it’ll be slightly harder to transport with some attachments but not impossible.

Forestry Journal: Last but not least, the TRX 7800S.Last but not least, the TRX 7800S. (Image: FJ/Mike Tyson)

Lastly was the TRX 7800S. I’ll not waffle on too much, but to summarise quickly it has a 70-hp engine with 32-speed transmission. It has a 2,300-kg lift capacity and the entry-level model weighs in at just over 2,000 kg. This really does feel like a bigger machine compared to the 50-hp model, and might be best suited for orchards and soft fruit works. 

This leads me on nicely to the summary. I think the overall offerings from Antonio Carraro are simply superb. The build and high quality of materials used is clearly visible throughout the entire range, regardless of price point. You can tell there is pedigree and heritage there, that’s for sure.

After talking to Ben and Tilly from Kirkland, it is clear they think that they have something to offer to the forestry sector, and I’d be inclined to agree. I know personally how useful the smaller machines are in thinnings work, and I can absolutely see the 26-hp and 52-hp models being used very easily. The models upwards are possibly more limited by size and weight, with the Mach 4 being the exception. The price may not suit all, but the features and potential performance are impossible to ignore. 

Kirkland is keen to offer bespoke packages including forestry guarding for the underbody, etc. It has a team of in-house fabricators who can do pretty much anything you want when it comes to it.

I had a good look around on my visit and I can happily report these guys are well equipped, knowledgeable and very happy and approachable. If you were to buy a tractor from them, you’d be in very safe hands, I have no doubt. 

Please do contact sales manager Ben Devine (01622 843013 or at Kirkland UK for details or to arrange a demonstration.