Manitou is back in the bend-in-the-middle loader game. On its stand at LAMMA the French firm had a prototype version of its latest MLA handler after an absence from the market of some four to five years. Details on the new machine are sketchy, but its vital stats are likely to match or exceed the obvious yellow-painted, Staffs-built competition – so a lift capacity in excess of 3.2t and a max height of over 5m. Power will be provided by a Deutz motor pumping out more than 140hp, but the transmission is yet to be finalized: Manitou’s R&D department is currently testing both the proven 6F x 3R Dana-Spicer torque converter box, as well as the ZF twin-pump hydrostatic it is introducing in its New Ag rigid-chassis machines. The cab is a completely new affair with curved roof window and sweeping rear quarter-lights. It will share its internal trim and controls with the new rigids, too. Unlike the Redrock-derived, Lucas G-built artic loader that Manitou dabbled with unsuccessfully for a couple of years, the new machine will have load-sensing, variable displacement hydraulics and significant cab damping to keep noise levels as low as possible. In fact, we’re told there will be absolutely zero carryover of components from the ‘ManiRock’ to the new MLA.