Innovative Iron Award Winner: Mecalac’s MCL Small Articulated Loaders

Mecaalc MCL2 small articulated wheel loader

The Top Construction Landscape and Rental Equipment Launched in 2023

Innovative Iron Logo 2023

The world of off-highway machinery is evolving — battery-powered units, hydrogen engines, luxury and economy tiering, machine control automation — but maybe the biggest evolution is that everyone wants a compact machine. Small, tool-carrying construction equipment now make up about 50 percent of the U.S. machinery market with mini excavators and compact track loaders being the two most popular categories in America. To meet this enormous demand, machine makers released some pretty awesome machines in the past 12 months: advanced skid steers, electric asphalt pavers, entry-level grade control attachments and so much more. The 2023 Innovative Iron Awards celebrate the best of these compact equipment launches. Scouring tradeshows, visiting manufacturers, operating units, interviewing experts, this annual compilation represents the best equipment we’ve seen and experienced all year, including…

Mecalac’s MCL Small Articulated Loaders

Small articulated loaders or SALs are ultra compact wheel loaders — maybe the smallest sit-down construction tool carrier on the market — engineered with an articulating frame and the ability to take attachments (often using a universal skid steer/compact track loader quick-attach system). Over the last few years, SALs have been showing up on more and more dealer lots in America (this category is big in Europe) with brands from Case to Bobcat to Vermeer launching products (sometimes via OEM agreements with Euro brands like Giant or MultiOne). Introduced in May of 2023, Mecalac’s miniaturized MCL wheel loaders stood out in this growing new category of wheeled machines, earning CE‘s coveted Innovative Iron Award.

Mecalac’s MCL line is comprised of six models, including the MCL2, MCL4, MCL4+, MCL6, MCL6+ and MCL8. These small wheel loaders are tool carriers, able to take numerous attachments beyond buckets, and these units can find work in agriculture, landscape, forestry, snow removal, utility, construction and beyond. I got the opportunity to inspect these machines in detail at a dealer in Colorado in May. I spoke with Patrick Brehmer, Mecalac head of design and product management, during the press event in Golden.

“We came out with six machines because each market takes care of different things,” said Brehmer in our previous interview. “One [contractor] wants to load light material high. The other one wants to lift very strong pallets. Another contractor wants comfort with speed and air conditioning and the other not.”

These MCLs or Mecalac Compact Loaders are available in three versions — canopy, canopy with foldable top or a cab version. Like all Mecalac equipment, these small loaders come with cool tech, including M-Drive and speed control, which allow the loaders to function as a tool carrier, providing control of the rpm via hand throttle and speed via a foot pedal. This enables more precise and controlled operation of a wide variety of hydraulic attachments. When it comes to auxiliary hydraulics to the attachment, the MCL Series boasts 7.9 gpm of flow on the MCL2 and MCL4 models and 15.9 gpm flow on the MCL6 and MCL8. Smaller MCL units utilize a universal stand-on tool carrier attachment plate while the bigger units wield a universal skid-steer attachment system. Each MCL unit also has an option for auxiliary hydraulic lines out the rear of the machine as well as 12V 3 pole plugs.

“You could run a spreader off the rear of the machine or pull a trailer,” said Geoffrey Andrews, product specialist and regional sales manager with Mecalac, at that same event in May.

The MCL4+ and MCL6+ models come standard with a short boom, which offers a better tipping load, whereas the other four models come with a long boom standard, which maximizes tipping height. “The short boom is the construction style,” said Andrews. “The longer boom version is mainly for agriculture because they’re going to want a little bit more reach to stack bales and do other farm tasks. The long boom is going to be about a foot longer.”

Mecalac MCL4+ small articulated wheel loader

These articulating units are nimble. Each machine has a 45-degree articulation that keeps the front wheels traveling in the same path as the rear wheels while driving. The MCL2 and 4 models have a 25-hp engine, with travel speeds up to 7 mph for the MCL2, and 12 mph for MCL4 and 4+. The remaining models come with a 49-hp engine and travel up to 12 mph with an option for travel speeds up to 19 mph. Each machine in the MCL Series offers easy transportability between jobsites with low transport weight, ranging between 3,836 and 6,283 lbs and minimal width from 3 ft, 4 in. to 4 ft, 4 in., depending on tire selection.

Once again, safety is a core focus for the MCL Series with easy accessibility for entering the cab or re-fueling from ground level. Maintenance is easy and safe as well.

“To access critical components, the cab lifts up off to the side,” explained Andrews. “It’s super easy access. This is a 24-hp engine right here. That means no [aftertreatment and] no DEF. You see your battery and master cutoff right here. Air filter. Underneath are our rear tie-downs.”

Mecalac MCL3 small articulated loader

These MCL units also allow some digital connectivity and flexibility. For starters, operators can tailor the machine to their specific operation. A startup digi-code incorporates a keypad that offers the owner tracking and monitoring capabilities by allowing the ability to assign a specific code for each operator. This digi-code also minimizes the risk of theft. Another option: MyMecalac Connected services offer remote management with access to all machine usage data, providing owners the information needed to minimize machine downtime through preventive maintenance. Operations can add the telematics box installation, which comes with a two-year subscription, to any MCL model they choose.

These MCL units have it all in a versatile, nimble package. For more info, visit

Keith Gribbins is publisher of Compact Equipment.

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