Review Yanmar ViO80 mini-excavator

By: Ron Horner

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Ron Horner hops on board a Yanmar ViO80 mini-excavator and discovers a new reason why an operator may stay loyal to a particular brand

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I have often wondered why some people continue to buy the same brand of excavator or machine either on replacement or via a new purchase. Now, from experience, this could be because of price, service, reliability, personal friendships with the dealer or sales representatives, all of the above, or maybe something totally different.

On one of my recent road trips across Australia, I came across a unique farming operation in Queensland where the owners had a myriad of earthmoving equipment (both old and new).

Having a earthmoving background, the family Sweet were not content in engaging sub-contractors to complete bulk earthworks on the farm so this gear complemented the very new range of farming equipment utilised to make this farming mecca into a very well organised and profitable business. 

15th Annual Car Show

The newest piece of earthmoving equipment on the Sweet strawberry runners (plants) operation is a 2017 Yanmar ViO80 mini excavator and is the second same model procured for works on the farm.

When I approached Phil Sweet on the whereabouts of the other similar Yanmar excavator and the reasons for buying another, I was ‘knocked over’ by his reply. Thinking it could be any one of the reasons stated above, his answer had me in stitches.

"Can’t show the other one in working mode mate … it’s up the top paddock. The bloody thing caught on fire with me in it and went up in smoke in a flash. Shame, really, but the guys gave us a good deal on a replacement model, so this is it!"

Yanmar Vi 080 Excavator

Walk around

This little 8.2-tonne digger presents really well in the flesh. On approaching it, one can soon tell it has not had a lot of work, and considering the rocky conditions in the region and those which abound the work site, it had been closely looked after – at least in panel terms.

With 800 hours on the clock, the machine is basically brand new with paint still on the track frames and barely a mark on the machine.

This is a true zero-swing machine and, as Yanmar developed the very first zero-swing machine way back in 1993, it definitely has shown the way to all and sundry that have followed.

With a nice blade attachment, which at first glance looks the goods in design and shape, along with the factory-fitted quick hitch and auxiliary hydraulic lines down the dipper arm, all makes for an interesting and pleasant afternoon in the bush. All steel tracks, tidy external cabin presentation and easy access to the rear bonnet make this a tidy little excavator.

Nice Tidy Blade Arrangement


Once in the dark tinted cabin of the Vi080, the operator immediately feels comfortable. The dash layout is very good, with the 75mm monitor placed effectively on top of the front RHS dashboard. Good vision in all directions and a complete set of well-positioned domed mirrors on three sides tops off a well-presented cabin.

The controls are easy and smooth with foot controls for boom articulation and auxiliary hydraulic lines and a full set of easy-to-read gauges suited to all operators (even those aspiring to be a dozer operator). Air-conditioning, radio and all the mod cons put this machine up there with the best in cabin design and overall size. Even a big bum like mine fits in the comfortable seating and the operator can gain access to the cabin with ease.

Tidy And Well Presented Cabin And Dash Layout


This little Yanmar is running the ever-popular Yanmar four-cylinder 4TNV98C-WBV diesel engine which pushes out about 57hp. These little engines have proven to be ultra-reliable and ever so popular in Australia for marine vessels and industrial use.  Very economical, quiet and easy to tend to the daily servicing routine from ground level and rear access makes this a very practicable and effective pairing in design and efficiency.

The direct-injected diesel runs like a dream and, with all the filters accessible from ground level, it’s a big tick from me.


Once in the cabin of the little Yanmar, the operator can feel quite at ease within the confines of the all-glass cabin. Due to the rocky conditions, my role today was to merely cause a little damage to the excavator as possible, as this machine is usually involved in irrigation trenching.  

The granite boulders up here lay in waiting ready to snap an unsuspecting operator in half (just like the croc and a backpacker in a creek after a big wet in the Kimberly).

Searching for something constructive to put the little girl into, I noticed the old 633C scraper heading our way laying out some material on the dirt track up to the dam, so I headed over just knowing there would be something up our alley. There was not much digging to do but plenty of pushing and trimming with the blade, so that was a start.

The pushing power in the little Yanmar was very surprising: full blade, no hydraulic fade, and capable in either high- or low-speed travel …  impressive!

From the cabin, the operator has good vision to the blade as the distance from the track frame to the back of the blade is more than significant – possibly the best I have seen on a machine of this size. Just when you think a manufacturer has got it sorted, one realises there are issues which, in my opinion, need to be addressed to make a good machine ‘spot on’.

At first glance, the blade attachment arms could be considered a touch ‘light-on’ in size and designed strength. If they were constructed of box section it could be an improvement, but I haven’t heard of any major failures at this point in time. The blade has a single-ram operation and a solid steel tube bracing off the blade link arms, so maybe Yanmar has got it right.    

Rear Bonnet Access To All Filters And Servicing Is Excellent

As operators, we tend to push these machines to the limit, and as some digger drivers are aspiring D11 dozer operators and think they have their bums in the seat already, one could only imagine the damage that could be caused by an overzealous operator who has his aspirations and the machine’s capabilities not in sync.

On the blade, the other issue I have is the heavy-duty boxed section behind the blade designed for strengthening; this box section cuts the operator’s view to the cutting edges and does take some time to get used to final trimming.

However, in stating my case on the blade, the biggest issue I found with the Yanmar Vi080 is that the dipper arm on this model is way too short. If you wish to trim up the job site perfectly, the operator cannot squeeze the last of the materials into the blade, therefore leaving a pile of leftovers to be cleaned up by hand or dodgy back-blading.

If you, as an operator/owner-operator of a mini-excavator, had a choice of a machine with the capabilities of a longer dipper arm capable of cleaning up to the blade, or a shorter one leaving you with piles of rubbish all over the place, I know which one I would be looking at.

The Yanmar’s performance when digging is up there with the top 10 per cent of diggers in this category: nice and smooth in operation, plenty of power in the hydraulics, quick in operation, and easy on the operator. However, I still have to complain once again.

In this configuration, the machine is fitted with a Boss Attachments trimming/tilting bucket hooked up to a quick hitch. This bucket is very robust in construction, well designed and built to withstand the tough rocky conditions encountered in this country, but the machine is so out of balance when at near full reach that it is difficult to grasp.

I am not sure if the bucket – which was designed for the older burned-out model Yanmar – was better suited there, or if the quick hitch and tilting head on the bucket has pushed the overall balance of the new machine totally out of whack, but believe me: operating this at full speed and full reach needs to be addressed.

The machine is good, bucket is good, quick hitch is good … but the pairing of all three needs to be addressed in my opinion.

The Boss Attachments Bucket Proved A Touch Large For This Machine2


Yanmar is one of the leading mini-excavator manufacturers in the country and has a loyal following – and rightly so. In my opinion, there are a few design issues that detract from this model from being really good, but the issues I feel require attention are not that difficult to address.

Yanmar is not the only excavator manufacturer which has design issues, and my comments should not detract a buyer from seriously looking at or purchasing one … these are good machines.

I have not researched if the model comes with an optional longer dipper arm. If so, that box is ticked, and as for the other issue, it can be overcome with a smaller bucket fitted to the dipper arm.

Overall, the machine is impressive in the right areas and runs all the correct pumps, engine, travel motors and tracks to fulfil any aspiring owner-operator’s needs.


Mini excavator

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