We travelled to Belarus to get behind the wheel of the 466hp tractor previewed at the last Agritechnica, as well as try out a couple of diesel-electric prototypes

A decade ago, the Minsk Tractor Works (MTW) launched the 300hp 3022. And it seems with some success because the firm claims 4,000 units have since been delivered. Then, in 2013, the Minsk-based company launched the Cat-powered 350hp 3522, which uses the same hydro-mechanical powershift. Currently the most powerful model in the price list, so far over 1,500 have been delivered, over 400 of which were to the home market of Belarus. Pleasantly surprised by the numbers, the company decided to take power to the next level, and at Agritechnica stunned visitors with the 466hp 4522 concept.

One of three prototypes, the first was believed to be somewhere inside the factory during our visit, while the second continues to pile on the hours at a state-owned farm. We were fortunate to have an opportunity to climb into the cab of the third, which resides at the company’s testing grounds, an hour’s drive north of Minsk. The test track was concealed by a late flurry of spring snow, but this failed to dampen our enthusiasm.

The 4522 is an imposing 7.0m long (3.3m wheelbase), 17.5t beast that comfortably eclipses the previous most powerful Belarus tractor — the 350hp 3522. The exterior is dominated by the yellow 12.5-litre motor; a six-pot Stage IIIA Cat C13, which should appeal to more customers in the west. So, too, will the Trimble Autopilot GPS.

So, what is it like to drive? Visibility across the massive bonnet from inside the spacious six-post cab is good, although it is difficult to gauge how far it protrudes, hence the front camera. There is also a rear-facing camera; however, operators have to select this manually, as it doesn’t automatically change when reverse is engaged. It takes a while to master the right-hand control console. Packed with colour-coded push buttons and dials, we hope they move some of them, and certainly the engine, selected gear ratio and forward speed, to the right-hand A-post.

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