Al-Ko Highline 523 VS

Al-Ko Highline 523 VS self-propelled petrol lawnmower

Al-Ko Highline 523 VS self-propelled petrol lawnmower

PRO’s: one of the best grass boxes. Collects mulches and discharges to rear or side

CON’s: at 30 mm lowest cutting height not as low as others

VERDICT: Slightly heavier than average but an excellent choice for rougher lawns

OUR RATING ★★★★☆ 

The Al-Ko Highline 523 VS is the direct replacement for the Al-Ko 520BR Premium and, like the model that its replaced, it’s a self-propelled four wheel rotary mower designed for large gardens thanks to its 51 cm (20 inch) cutting width.  We awarded it’s successor four stars out of five so does the new version uphold the tradition or let it down ?  Read on to find out ….

The Al-Ko Highline 523 VS doesn’t differ much from it’s predecessor other than a change of paint.  It still has the ability to side discharge as well as rear discharge the cuttings as well as collect them in the huge 70 litre grassbox or, if you prefer, to mulch them as well.

Like most mowers, the Al-Ko Highline 523 VS comes boxed and needs to be assembled.  Thankfully this version took slightly less time to put together than its predecessor and one thing that we did notice was that the hand seemed much more comfortable.  The older version was quite thin but this seems thicker and better to hold.

The same 190 cc Briggs and Stratton four stroke petrol engine powers the new version and it started first time, every time even when cold.  The 1 litre fuel tank is typical for a mower of this size and was straightforward to fill.

Petrol push mowers can be a real pain to use which is why many of the larger ones are self-propelled but the Al-Ko Highline 523 VS has a neat twist – thanks to it’s variable speed system YOU can set the precise speed that it moves forwards at and we found that it worked really well.

The cutting height is adjusted by one lever and allows seven distinct heights between 30 mm and 80 mm.  The lowest height is 5 mm higher than the old version.  It’s not a lot but since some of the Al-Ko Highline 523 VS competitors can cut down to just 16 mm it’s surprising that it’s not the same.

That said, the Al-Ko Highline 523 VS still cuts grass beautifully and didn’t leave a single cutting behind preferring instead to cram them into the 70 litre grass box.  We’re glad to report that the grass box is still made of plastic – unlike some manufacturers who supply wire and cloth bags – and that it’s easy to empty.

It also has a handy indicator on it which shows you when it’s time to empty the grass box.  It’s an extremely useful feature and one that we wish every manufacturer would fit.

The powerful engine coped admirably with long wet grass and, when the supplied mulching plug was fitted, also managed to effectively mulch the grass cuttings and spread them evenly across the cutting width.  If you’d rather not mulch or collect them in the grass box, the Al-Ko Highline 523 VS can also discharge either to the side or the rear for collection.

On regular length grass it cut really well and, thanks to the inset front wheels, it can cut right up the edge of lawns as well as around trees and wall edges thus reducing the amount of strimming that’s needed.

And whilst we’re on the subject of the cutting deck we need to point out that it’s made of steel, carries a two year warranty and is what contributes the most to this mowers all up weight of 37 kg which is typical for a petrol lawnmower of this size.

That said, when the engine is running it doesn’t feel that heavy as it’s self-propelled and the large wheels help it to roll along nicely but when the engine is off it’s a different story.  Thankfully Al-Ko have fitted a handle to the front which makes it easier to lift and move around.

So is this a straight replacement for the older Al Ko 520BR Premium ?  No, we feel that it’s a definite improvement over the old model.

Although the increase in the lower cutting height is a shame it’s more than offset by the variable speed system and the general quality of the cut combined with the number of ways that it can handle the grass cuttings (collect, mulch, side or rear discharge).

It’s a fantastic mower for large gardens with rougher grass in them although we could see it really coming into it’s own in a paddock or orchard, the lack of a rear roller means that you won’t get a stripe but you will get an excellent cut and no stray cuttings to clear up.

Todays Latest Prices for Al-Ko Highline 523 VS

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