The new generation of Massey Ferguson subcompacts the GC1700 series replaces, the GC2400 and GC2600, have proven to be well-designed, ergonomically comfortable and reliable – we reviewed the GC2400 in June 2011. There are those that think when you have a good thing going you should stick with it. But then designs stagnate and innovation comes to a halt. Massey Ferguson, in conjunction with Iseki who manufactured the last generation GC and the new, listened to customers and dealers and instead of a complete redesign, made subtle improvements that have made the GC series even better.
Starting with all new three-cylinder liquid-cooled powerplants that meet Tier-4 requirements, the GC1700 series is comprised of two models, the 22.5 gross horsepower GC1705 (tractor-only) and the 25 horsepower GC1715 (tractor-only) . The GC1705 produces 18.7 horsepower at the power take off (PTO) running at 2600 rpm while the GC1715, using the same 68.5 c.i. engine make 19.6 PTO horsepower at a slightly higher 3000 rpm.
Power is fed to a two-range hydrostatic transmission that is modulated by a side-by-side pedal arrangement offering infinite control over the 0 – 9.1 mph speed range. Cruise control is standard, as well as a 540 rpm rear and 2000 rpm mid PTO.
Hydraulics are by an open center system with 4.3 gpm (GC1705 ) or 4.8 gpm (GC1715 ) available for implement needs and 2.0 gpm for power steering functions . Massey Ferguson gives the three-point hitch (3PH) lift capacity a rating of 1,190 lbs. at hitch point so you know this series is designed to do more than just look pretty. As on the previous generation GC series, position control isn’t available, so if you are planning on running a rotary cutter or tiller, you will have to guess at the position when returning the 3PH to work height. This is by no means a game changer and certainly is not an uncommon accommodation in the subcompact market. Lower link arms are not telescopic and the stabilizers, while located inboard of the arms, are of a turnbuckle design.
Upon arrival, we asked what was new about the GC1700 series. “Subtle improvements that added together make it even better than the series it replaced,” we were told. The first change was the relocation of the loader joystick from the loader stanchion to the front side of the tractor instrument and steering console. It was explained that though the joystick lever was longer than before, it still gave you good feel over the up/down, curl/dump positions. Relocating the joystick could have proved a challenge for a lockout, but Massey Ferguson engineers came up with a front console knob that twists to lock and prevent an accidental bucket dump. The hood is also an all-new, all-metal design with a nice latch incorporated into the top where a lot of manufacturers still put hard to access fuel filler caps. For the record, Massey Ferguson puts the fuel filler on the right hand fenderwell where it is far easier to hold a 5.0-gal. can at hip/waist level than chest/shoulder.
Other improvements include the relocation of the cruise lever from a slightly-awkward right fenderwell location to the dash face, a slightly wider separation of the side-by-side hydro pedals, consolidation of all electric light and flasher functions to a single location, and a really nice bracket that holds the 3PH top link in place when not being used, but that slips out of the way without tools or pins when needed.
Firing up the diesel engine made us immediately go for our dBA meter where we measured an outdoor (from the driver’s seat) reading of 82.1/86.1 (min/max). Just for grins we did the same test on a GC2400 in the lot and measured 84.9/87.9, confirming our suspicions that the new Tier-4 powerplant was noticeably quieter. Similar differences were measured at 1500 and PTO rpm.
Our test GC1705 was outfitted with a DL100 loader and 48” bucket. This is a nicely sized compliment to the tractor and a capable performer able to lift 678 lbs. to 73”. Breakout force is rated at 950 lbs. We found responsiveness a little slow at idle, but at higher rpm quite acceptable. Balance felt confidence inspiring, even at full lift height.
If you’re in the market for a subcompact with lots of attitude, check out the new GC series, we think you’ll be as impressed as we were.