Deere's 6210R – a versatile and powerful successor
Given its predecessors popularity, John Deere’s latest 6R series has a lot to live up to. To find out if it has got what it takes, James Rickard puts a 6210R through its paces.
When a model is replaced, manufacturers often struggle to improve upon it and keep customers happy - especially if the outgoing model is a good one.
John Deere’s 6000 series is no exception. Since 1992, more than 550,000 models have been produced at Deere’s Mannheim factory in Germany.
Launched last July, the new 6R series consists of nine models - three short wheelbase versions, three medium and three long, ranging from 105hp to 210hp (129hp to 249hp maximum).
Currently available are the top three models, with the others following in June. Also on the cards for late autumn is a new Direct Drive transmission.
To find out if the new series lives up to expectations, we tasked a top of the range 6210R with Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and a maximum power of 249hp with ploughing and power harrowing.
While the 6170R and 6190R models are direct replacements for the 7430 and 7530, the 6210R is an additional, more powerful model - the most powerful tractor ever produced at Mannheim.
Despite their looks, the long wheelbase models are only 50mm longer and no more than 150mm taller (depending on tyres) than their predecessors.
In-cab, the 6R is an improvement over the outgoing 30 series. Clad in solid plastics, it is much roomier, with increased visibility and better ergonomics.
Our AutoPowr version featured Deere’s command arm - putting transmission, throttle, hydraulics and pto functions to hand.
Occupying the right-hand fender is the touch-screen Greenstar 3 CommandCentre terminal.
All tractor functions can be adjusted and set up via this, or by using the adjacent hot-keys and scroll wheel.
It does look a little daunting at first, but is actually intuitive to use, with pictures and symbols representing all of the different functions. Simply select the one you want, then adjust it.
The iTec headland management system is just as simple. From the drop-down menus, we were easily able to pre-write a sequence for our plough.
Sequence one involved lowering the plough, followed by engagement of the diff-lock after two metres. Sequence two included disengaging the diff, followed by the plough raising out of the ground after 2m, then turning over. Sequences can also be recorded.
This system is probably not one for lever lovers, but it will appeal to the smartphone and touch-screen tablet generation. It makes life easier and is an improvement over the old 30 series interface.
The terminal can also be used to control implements via IsoBus and as a monitor for machinery-mounted cameras. Unfortunately, the terminal suffers from impaired visibility at times, due to glare, and cannot be moved.
Deere has stuck with the steering column-mounted dash with reach and rake adjustment. It includes re-styled easy-to-read rev counter, speedometer and temperature and fuel level gauges.
The neatly placed shuttle lever also incorporates a feature called PowerZero - a system which is automatically activated when you come to a stop and put the shuttle in neutral. This holds the tractor stationary on a slope without the need to use the brakes. It is then deactivated when a direction is selected.
Shuttling between forwards and reverse is responsive and smooth - something often lost with CVTs which try to mimic a genuine shuttle’s characteristics.
Channelling the 6210R’s power to the wheels is the firm’s AutoPowr CVT. It is fairly user friendly and can be used in three modes - auto, custom or manual.
For our purposes, and for most other people, demo driver Wilton Goligher says auto mode will be used. In auto, the engine revs and forward speed are optimised to the job being carried out.
With a single lever, any speed between 0kph and 50kph can be selected, with fine-tuning adjusted via a thumb wheel. Stopping does not require de-clutching.
Coupled to a Lemken five-furrow reversible Juwel 8 plough, working at a depth of 250mm and furrow width of 450mm, the Deere held a target speed of 8kph, varying between 1,500rpm on the flat and 1,900rpm on an incline.
Due to the design, full mechanical drive is achieved at four, eight, 20kph and 40kph, although a proportion of mechanical drive never drops below 75 per cent.
For comfort, the 6R employs the firm’s well-known triple-link suspension. While it absorbs bumps up-front, it also relays signals to the new, double-acting ram cab suspension, which reacts accordingly to achieve a smooth ride.
At the rear, everything is where you would expect it to be, and all adjustments are relatively simple, without the need for tools.
A slight let-down, for a tractor of this size, is the flimsy-looking Sauermann drawbar, which would look more at home on a smaller tractor.
Incorporated into the rear fenders are linkage and pto controls, but due to the tractor’s height, they could be a bit of reach for some operators.
Under the flimsy, awkward-to-close bonnet hides a responsive 6.8-litre stage 3b PowerTech PVX engine with Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR). It provided plenty of grunt for our tasks, occasionally beating the 6R’s tractive capabilities. For increased reliability, the manufacturer now uses ‘butterfly’ type EGR valves.
Deere has tried to make daily maintenance checks as convenient as possible. Engine oil dip-stick, radiator cleaning and fuel sediment bowl draining are all accessible from the front left-hand corner of the engine bay - no need for squeezing in between the front mud-guards and diesel tank.
However, draining the sediment bowl does cover the front casting in diesel unless a container is used, and accessing the air-filter requires scaling the front axle.
John Deere has produced a worthy replacement. From just a few days in the hot-seat, you can tell years of experience have gone into this tractor.
The 6R is simple to use and set up mechanically and electrically. In field, it is quite agile for its size. Its striking looks are a departure from the 30 series, but it does grow on you after a while.
One let-down is the slow boot-up time of the 6R’s systems, which feels like an eternity when starting the tractor, especially when you just want to quickly move it.
Being able to use the transmission immediately after start-up, with the other systems following suit, would be a benefit.
Is the 6R a lean, green machine? Only time will tell. It will be interesting to see whether SCR (Selective Catalytic reduction) or EGR, in combination with the transmission and other components, is the cheapest solution to run overall.
Based on our impression of the machine, the 6210R is a top contender in what is a very fierce horse power bracket.
Base retail price is £114,091.
Specification of our test 6210R
- Engine: 6.8-litre PVX PowerTech
- Rated power: 210hp
- Maximum power: 249hp
- Fuel tank capacity: 465 litres
- Transmission: AutoPowr CVT
- Front axle: Triple link suspension with 100mm of travel
- Hydraulics: 155 litres/min closed centre
- Maximum rear tyre diameter: 2,050mm
- Rear linkage lift capacity: 9,550kg
- Front linkage lift capacity: 4,000kg
- GreenStar 3 terminal
- Rear end
- Flimsy bonnet
- Small draw-bar
- Long boot-up time