The Beingmate saga now rocking Fonterra is unsettling farmer shareholders.
Trialled over a wet and windy week in Waikato dairy country, the HD5 took everything in its stride in a composed manner, was easy to operate, appeared frugal on fuel and importantly felt safe at all times.
Power is provided by a Rotax single-cylinder engine of 427cc, pushing out a perky 38hp. Interestingly, the HD5 comes with the company’s DESS engine control system that provides a three-stage function for control and safety.
Under the front hood you can insert an orange control key that limits the maximum speed to 40km/h but allows full engine torque. This setting should be useful for new operators by allowing plenty of speed and grunt for life on the farm but will kerb users with a heavy right foot.
By contrast, a green ‘eco’ key allows the HD5 to hit a top speed of 70km/h, but with a reduction in maximum torque of 10%; and a white manager’s key allows full speed and full power always.
Built around a heavy-duty laser-cut chassis, the front-end comprises a twin A-arm layout, while the rear sees torsionally travelling rear suspension arms. This allows travel over all types of terrain, particularly the rough stuff, while keeping the wheels firmly planted. In our test, the HD5 never came anywhere near being stuck or bottoming out, partly thanks to 10.5-inch ground clearance afforded by 25-inch rubber mounted on 12-inch wheels.
Comfort was also better than expected, with twin-tube shocks giving 10 inches of suspension travel.
The VersaPro bench seat was comfortable and able to carry three adults. And by flipping up the right hand seat, cinema-style, you get extra load carrying space for maybe a bag of feed, a calf or lamb, or the old farm dog who may have the will but not always the energy to get home without hitching a lift.
Ahead of the operator, a full-width dashboard offers plenty of storage, with a clever, sealed lift-out toolbox to the right.
An overall feeling of simplicity is carried over to the controls: a simple transmission lever offers five choices that engage as smoothly as in any modern automobile; and there’s a switch for two- or four-wheel drive, and another to switch on the lights.
A multi-function display is simple yet concise, showing speed, engine revs, distance and operating hours -- the latter used to monitor the 200 hour/3000km service intervals during the three-year warranty period.
The HD5 can tow 680kg and carry 272kg in its tray, the latter deserving special mention for its width and general sizing, gas strut-assisted tipping, a ute-like flip-down rear door with a capacity of 113kg, and neat detail such as a built-in tape measure.
A full roll-cage offers plenty of protection, with steeply raked front elements to give a feeling of more space; side nets add to the safety, as do seat belts for all passengers, with the operator’s limiting speed to 25km/h if the belt is not fastened.
And a big tick from our tester for the flip-up steering column (a must for big guys) and a drop-down central arm rest that hides the obligatory cup holders.