The New Zealand National Fieldays Society has made a donation to the Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust.
This machine should prove popular with farmers, given its gutsy engine, excellent powertrain and competitive purchase price of $11,990 + GST.
It’s powered by a 500cc, fuel injected, single cylinder engine pushing out 33hp for quick response and good lugging ability.
The power plant mates to a CVT transmission with high, low, neutral and reverse selections.
Most importantly, it has effective engine braking via a sprag clutch -- particularly effective in downhill when carrying a load or towing loaded trailers.
Selecting low range gives maximum braking, meaning tricky inclines can be travelled under control. This is especially so given the U550 has particularly effective disc brakes at both ends.
Traction is chosen by a 2WD or 4WD selector on the dashboard, and a combined button allows diff lock selection in difficult conditions.
Also of interest is a free wheel selection for the rear axle, keeping lawns at home unmarked. Happy wife, happy life, as they say.
Nicely weighted, electric power steering feels good at high speeds and in easy manoeuvring in tight situations.
Ride comfort is aided by an independent dual A-arm suspension set-up and long travel, adjustable pre-loads for spring rates (depending on load) and excellent rebound damping in all conditions.
Black, 12-inch alloys are shod with well sorted, heavy lugged rubber good in poor conditions. And a front fender mounted 3000lb winch will prove useful if things go pear shaped.
An all steel load tray has 250kg capacity, with fold down sides and rear tailgate all easily removeable if a flat platform is preferred. Positive locking is accessed from either side of the machine and loads are easily tipped with the aid of gas struts under the body.
In the cab area, occupants are protected by a substantial ROPS frame fitted with a roof as standard, side nets, rear headrests and inertia reel seat belts. The comfortable bench seat layout has a drop down centre armrest with twin drink holders.
An adjustable steering column carries a clever information display pod that gives details of speed, drive mode, 2WD or 4WD selection and visuals for lights, engine temp, oil pressure, etc.
Completing the package, a HD towbar fitting allows 540kg towing capacity, box steel nerf bars protect the flanks of the vehicle and its cow poo green paint job will hide any knocks or scrapes.