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Fed up of constantly getting clamped? Is your 4×4 overflowing on the tip run? Well help is at hand, and the best news is that it’s British-built. You’re looking at JCB’s smallest articulated dump truck (ADT), the 714. At just under seven metres long, it’s only a metre longer than a Maybach. So it’s surprisingly compact, and if you like your weekends to be particularly dirty (and your weekdays, too), some play time with the 714 could be the perfect stress reliever. All you need is around £70,000 in the bank.
Power is provided by a 5.9-litre straight-six engine, which knocks out 156bhp and 465lb ft of torque. Combine those figures with a 10-tonne unladen weight and they’re not especially impressive – after all, a 1.7-ton BMW 335d can muster 286bhp and 428lb ft of torque. However, what the BMW can’t do is cart 13 tonnes of gravel or tackle a 45-degree muddy slope. It would be great fun trying though, if only very briefly. While the engine’s vital statistics aren’t eye-catching, the rest of the technology that the 714 packs allows it to do some pretty amazing things. Much of this is down to a four-wheel drive system that’s switchable on the move. To improve fuel economy, the 714 can be kept in rear-wheel drive mode, but flick a switch and the front wheels transmit their share of the power.
With a limited-slip diff on each axle, it’s hard to faze the 714 with any slope, regardless of angle or surface. Drive is transmitted via a six-speed semiautomatic gearbox bought in from ZF, which also packs three reverse gears. While the auto mode works just fine, most of the time it’s best to select ratios manually, to help with engine braking while also staying within the six-pot’s optimum power band. Whereas most turbodiesels have a red-line of around 4,500rpm, the JCB rarely strays beyond 1,500 revs, although it can be taken to 2,200rpm – but there’s no need to.
After jumping out of a car, it takes a bit of getting used to driving something where you change gear every few hundred revs. However, it’s nothing compared with the incredibly indirect steering and the amazingly sharp brakes. Wind lock onto the large steering wheel that’s set almost horizontally, and the 714 barely changes direction – there’s also a complete lack of feedback. Keep winding lock on and the nose starts to turn, but there seems to be dozens of turns between locks. Then you dab the brakes and the JCB stands on its nose – especially if you use your left foot for braking, as most JCB drivers do. The idea is that your right foot is for the accelerator and the left one controls the anchors, so you can use both pedals at the same time, should you need to. Even sticking with right-foot braking the system is very sharp, thanks to a massive disc at each corner, plus a transmission brake too. The latter is essential for when the JCB is fully loaded – on a steep muddy incline when fully laden, things could get rather messy if the brakes failed to hold…
The tyres also play their part in giving the JCB the agility of a mountain goat – at two feet wide and five feet across, they each offer one hell of a footprint. If you want to traverse steep and rocky terrain where a Land Rover wouldn’t even get started, the 714 is just the ticket. However, the tyres aren’t there just for traction – they’re also the 714’s suspension. The high-profile tyres are the only thing that offers any absorption of bumps between the ground and the driver’s seat, although to smooth things out a bit, it does come with air suspenion as standard. There are plenty of other comfort features on offer too, from air-conditioning and a reversing camera to a three-speed heater; but you’ll search in vain for integrated sat-nav or a touch-screen multi-media system.
Garaging this smallest of JCBs will prove challenging unless you’ve got a barn, while running costs are likely to be a stretch, too. Because these machines tend to amble around in circles all day, conventional fuel economy, road tax and insurance measures go right out the window, along with residuals data. If you fancy trimming the purchase cost by indulging in some personal import activity from Europe, you can forget about that, too. However, even with quite a few key figures missing, it’s a fair bet that the 714 wouldn’t make a good substitute for your Qashqai or X5. But if your neighbours own cars like that, and they think they own the road as a result, this could be just the vehicle to put them in their place.