Pow­er­ful all-rounder

Tak­ing a turn in the new Claas Arion 600

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

Keen to get in the driver’s seat and see how the Claas Arion 660 per­formed on the job, it was with much an­tic­i­pa­tion that I headed to the Lin­coln Dairy Farm in Can­ter­bury, New Zealand to cul­ti­vate a pad­dock with it hooked up to a four-me­tre wide Ama­zone Ce­nius disc cul­ti­va­tor. EN­GINE

All four mod­els in the Arion 600 range have stuck with the 6.8-litre six-cylin­der DPS power tech en­gine, which has served the brand well in the past, with the Claas Power Man­age­ment sys­tem con­trol­ling the en­gine to de­liver max­i­mum power and ef­fi­ciency. The top-of-the-range Arion 660 I tested puts out 185 horse­power (138kW), and with a vari­able ge­om­e­try turbo, there is a 20hp (15kW) boost, tak­ing it up to an im­pres­sive 205 max hp (152.9kW) for trans­port and power take-off (PTO) work. Fuel tank ca­pac­ity sits at 370 litres, which will keep the ma­chine on the go well into the night.

The en­gine is tuned and con­trolled to de­liver more power at lower rpm to in­crease pro­duc­tion and lower fuel con­sump­tion. Two en­gine idle speeds help save fuel. Once the trans­mis­sion is put in park and the trac­tor knows it’s not about to move, the idle drops from 800 to 650rpm.

Ser­vic­ing in­ter­vals have been pushed out to 600 hours on the en­gine and 1,200 on the trans­mis­sion, which also helps to keep run­ning costs down. The oil can be checked and topped up with­out open­ing the large sin­gle-piece bon­net. How­ever, once open, ac­cess is good and ra­di­a­tors are ex­tremely easy to clean with latches that al­low them to fold out on gas struts. It is in­ter­est­ing to see that in front of the ra­di­a­tor is a main­te­nance plan show­ing all the grease points on the trac­tor, leav­ing no ex­cuses for them to be missed.

Cast iron side rails bolt on along the side of the en­gine and to the trans­mis­sion, giv­ing the added strength of a sub frame de­sign. How­ever, the slim scal­loped shape and piv­ot­ing front guards help max­imise the steer­ing an­gle for im­pres­sive ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity. This frame is also set up to take loader brack­ets if one is fit­ted. This also joins to the front link­age to spread the weight of ei­ther of these evenly along the trac­tor.

EMIS­SIONS

Like most man­u­fac­tur­ers, harm­ful emis­sions have been re­duced to al­most zero to meet Tier Four fi­nal stan­dards. To com­ply with these reg­u­la­tions, the Claas Arion 660 uses a diesel ox­i­da­tion cat­a­lyst with ex­haust gas re­cir­cu­la­tion, a diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter, and lastly se­lec­tive cat­alytic re­duc­tion (AdBlue) to clean up any re­main­ing nasty gases.

The sys­tem and place­ment has been well thought out by Claas. The AdBlue tank is tucked away un­der the cab, with the filler be­tween the steps. The large ex­haust is po­si­tioned well in front of the A-pil­lar to min­imise any im­pact on vis­i­bil­ity.

TRANS­MIS­SION

With a choice of the stan­dard Claas Hex­as­hift, of­fer­ing six power shifts in four ranges, or the CMATIC con­tin­u­ously vari­able EQ220 trans­mis­sion – fit­ted in the trac­tor tested – that gives smooth, seam­less vari­able speed from 0 to 50km/h (top speed on the road is achieved at just 1,500 rpm). The pow­ered zero fea­ture means that even in for­ward or re­verse, the trac­tor will re­main sta­tion­ary at idle with­out creep­ing.

Con­trol of the trans­mis­sion is straight­for­ward, with the choice of three modes. In the first two modes, the for­ward speed is con­trolled by ei­ther the foot pedal or the CMO­TION mul­ti­func­tion lever. The en­gine rpm and trans­mis­sion are ad­justed au­to­mat­i­cally for per­for­mance and ef­fi­ciency. The third mode is man­ual, where the driver can choose the en­gine rpm and trans­mis­sion speed in­de­pen­dently. These modes can eas­ily be switched with a but­ton on the arm­rest and are dis­played on the screen.

There are now three cus­tomis­able cruise con­trol set­tings. You can ac­ti­vate these and tog­gle be­tween them while mov­ing, with but­tons on the CMO­TION lever. Dis­played on screen, these are easy to set up and ad­just on the move. Cruise con­trol can be eas­ily de­ac­ti­vated by push­ing the but­ton on the drive lever or touch­ing the ac­cel­er­a­tor or brake pedal.

En­gine droop has been im­proved on the CMATIC trans­mis­sion and has two ad­justable set­tings: eco and power. Es­sen­tially, it al­lows the op­er­a­tor to set the en­gine rpm that the ma­chine (un­der load) will drop to be­fore the for­ward speed is au­to­mat­i­cally low­ered to main­tain the op­ti­mum en­gine rpm. So, in prac­tice, pulling the four-me­tre cul­ti­va­tor, the en­gine droop was set to 1,700rpm and the for­ward speed slightly above what was achiev­able. The trac­tor then de­liv­ers full power to main­tain the max­i­mum for­ward speed pos­si­ble with­out go­ing over 1,700rpm. If the tar­get cruise con­trol for­ward speed is achieved, the rpm drops to all that is re­quired, which dras­ti­cally im­proves fuel con­sump­tion fig­ures.

SUS­PEN­SION

A new Dana front axle fea­tures in the re­designed PROACTIV front axle sus­pen­sion sys­tem. This com­bines a rear pivot point fur­ther back un­der the chas­sis and large rams an­gled out­wards for sta­bil­ity. There is now 125mm of travel and ac­cu­mu­la­tors to soak up the bumps. Even trundling along at only eight kilo­me­tres per hour in the pad­dock, it was im­pres­sive to see the amount of move­ment and travel in the rougher patches.

The sus­pen­sion is cus­tomis­able in the cab. It can be run in auto or raised and low­ered man­u­ally to a set height. Cab sus­pen­sion has al­ways been a strong point for Claas trac­tors and the four post me­chan­i­cal cab sus­pen­sion also helps give a smooth ride for the op­er­a­tor. Both the front and rear link­ages have vi­bra­tion damp­ing soft ride, which can be switched on or off to min­imise the bounce from im­ple­ments.

Fit­ted with Miche­lin Ul­traflex XeoBib 600/60 R30s on the front and 710/60 R42s on the rear, these top spec IF tyres of­fer min­i­mum

The en­gine rpm and trans­mis­sion are ad­justed au­to­mat­i­cally for per­for­mance and ef­fi­ciency.

com­paction and max­i­mum trac­tion. Miche­lin also in­de­pen­dently claims to de­crease fuel con­sump­tion when run­ning these tyres.

HY­DRAULICS AND PTO

At the rear, four sets of colour-coded hy­draulic re­mote valves are ar­ranged in a stag­gered pat­tern to al­low plenty of room for hoses. A re­lease lever makes un­cou­pling hoses ex­tremely easy. On the Claas Arion 660 I drove, a hy­draulic top link was fit­ted, with ex­ter­nal con­trol but­tons for one pair of re­motes, plus the rear link­age up/down and also the PTO on/off on both sides of the rear mud guards. Two sets of mid mount valves can be used for a loader, or in the case of the trac­tor tested, a front link­age with a four-tonne lift ca­pac­ity. A spare set of re­motes are up front and, in­ter­est­ingly, for a front link­age, there is a free flow re­turn as well. It’s great to see ex­ter­nal con­trol but­tons here as well.

All hy­draulics valves are as­sign­a­ble to dif­fer­ent switches within the new CE­BIS. The op­er­a­tor can also as­sign a pri­or­ity spool valve for de­mand­ing ap­pli­ca­tions. This gives the op­er­a­tor full con­trol on the screen for func­tion­al­ity and flow rates. The op­er­a­tion of each valve can be as­signed to any of the 10 mul­ti­func­tion keys, al­low­ing the op­er­a­tor to set it up ex­actly how they want it. The Claas Arion 660 fea­tures the larger pump op­tion, tak­ing the max­i­mum out­put up to 150 litres per minute, which I’m sure is more than ad­e­quate on this size of trac­tor. As you would ex­pect, there is power beyond cou­plings and hy­draulic trailer brakes. With a 50km/h top speed, it runs air brakes as well and Claas now has a dryer in the com­pressed air sys­tem – a fea­ture that has been around on trucks for a long time but is rel­a­tively new on trac­tors.

This en­sures the air cir­cuit stays free of wa­ter with­out the need to drain the air tanks – some­thing that can eas­ily be over­looked.

The PTO of­fers a choice of dif­fer­ent speeds: 540 and 1,000, both with an op­tion of eco (540e and 1,000e), which is great to see on a trac­tor this size. I found it in­ter­est­ing that the choice of PTO speed is one of the only things that haven’t found their way onto the main CE­BIS screen; the but­tons are still found on the rear B-pil­lar.

CAB

In­ter­est­ingly for Claas, since many of its mod­els have al­ways had a five-pil­lar cab, there is now a choice be­tween a four- or five-pil­lar cab, so you can de­cide for your­self on the age-old de­bate around larger doors. Re­gard­less of what you opt for, a side wiper fea­tures on the right-hand win­dow. Large heated dou­ble mir­rors (with wide-an­gle lenses on the bot­tom for im­proved vis­i­bil­ity) on each side can be elec­tron­i­cally ad­justed from in­side the cab. An en­closed bat­tery and tool­box on the right-hand side of­fers stor­age for the es­sen­tial bits and pieces that need cart­ing around.

To say the light­ing pack­age is im­pres­sive would be an un­der­state­ment. With up to eight spot­lights on the rear and as many as 16 for­ward fac­ing lights, the bases are well cov­ered to turn night into day. All are LED lights, in­clud­ing the in­di­ca­tors and tail­lights, plus there are day­time run­ning lights lo­cated in the bon­net.

As soon a front link­age is fit­ted, mid pil­lar lights come as stan­dard. This gives the op­tion of switch­ing the head­lights from the bon­net to the higher mid pil­lar lights when car­ry­ing large im­ple­ments on the front link­age.

The cab is spa­cious with full leather seats for both the op­er­a­tor and the co-pilot. The pre­mium ac­tive seat ad­justs au­to­mat­i­cally for a smooth, com­fort­able ride. Slim, un­ob­tru­sive pil­lars, along with a com­pact dash and low right-hand con­sole, al­low great vis­i­bil­ity in all di­rec­tions. There are sev­eral stor­age com­part­ments for your lunch and other es­sen­tials, and while not huge, they are ad­e­quate.

CON­TROLS

As men­tioned, the new 12-inch (30cm) touch­screen CE­BIS ter­mi­nal is in easy reach at the front of the arm­rest. This can pretty much dis­play and ad­just all trac­tor func­tions. The new lay­out is in­tu­itive and easy to nav­i­gate, with the home screen pro­vid­ing a va­ri­ety of in­for­ma­tion and short­cuts to the most com­monly used set­tings. Tabs down side of the screen pro­vide ac­cess to all avail­able set­tings.

I found this touch­screen easy to use, to nav­i­gate through and ad­just. While touch­screens are def­i­nitely an as­set, there are times when they can be dif­fi­cult to use, but this wasn’t one of them.

The scroll wheel and se­lec­tion but­tons on the arm­rest are an added bonus. Most of the other con­trols are on the right arm­rest. Every­thing is well laid out with clear sym­bols and some colour cod­ing. The CMO­TION mul­ti­func­tion lever not only con­trols the for­ward speed but also puts a va­ri­ety of con­trols at the op­er­a­tor’s fin­ger­tips, in­clud­ing link­age con­trols, spools, head­land man­age­ment, auto steer­ing, cruise con­trol, and a for­ward-re­verse shut­tle.

The arm­rest also fea­tures cus­tomis­able spools and func­tion keys ideal for a loader or front link­age. Ten sep­a­rate cus­tomis­able func­tion keys are spread around and can have a wide va­ri­ety of op­er­a­tions as­signed to them, in­clud­ing any of the re­mote valves.

This al­lows a mas­sive amount of flex­i­bil­ity to the op­er­a­tor in set­ting the con­trols up to suit. The trac­tor tested was also run­ning a Claas GPS Pilot au­to­matic steer­ing sys­tem, which is eas­ily fit­ted. Fit­ted to its own ISOBUS ter­mi­nal, the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem is sim­ple to use and easy to set up.

VER­DICT

With just over 200hp (149kW), the Claas Arion 660 is pow­er­ful enough to tackle se­ri­ous tasks, from cul­ti­vat­ing to bal­ing, mul­ti­ple mow­ers, or run­ning a mixer wagon. It is also ver­sa­tile enough for a wide va­ri­ety of tasks, and the real ap­peal is the fact it re­mains com­pact and ma­noeu­vrable. Equally at home with a front link­age or a loader fit­ted, it will ap­peal to those such as large-scale farm­ers look­ing for a pow­er­ful all-rounder.

Sub­tle re­fine­ments to the con­trols and the new CE­BIS touch­screen make it an easy trac­tor to op­er­ate, with a mas­sive amount of func­tion­al­ity packed in. As well as en­sur­ing per­for­mance, these fea­tures help max­imise pro­duc­tiv­ity while keep­ing run­ning costs low.

I found this touch­screen easy to use and to nav­i­gate through and ad­just.

Flag­ship of the Arion range is the new 660 CMATIC. Weigh­ing in at 9.2 tonnes, the Ama­zone Cer­tos cul­ti­va­tor made the test trac­tor work

2013 Claas Arion 430. Stoll FEL, 115hp, 2 rear re­motes, pow­er­shift trans. • VIC 03 8547 8629

2012 Claas Arion 640. 3390hrs, 50km/hr 24x24 trans, 155hp boost to 165hp. • VIC 03 8547 8629

Claas Arion 620 CIS. With Stoll FZ45, 1 front end loader, bucket & forks. • VIC 03 8373 7132

1. 2. The front axle sports 125mm of travel Main­te­nance on the large cool­ing pack is a sim­ple op­er­a­tionThe new cast iron chas­sis rails al­low for max­i­mum steer­ing lock4. The 30cm CE­BIS touch­screen is clearand easy to use3.

Claas Arion 530. Air cab, triple re­motes, full cab sus­pen­sion, front 3PL & PTO. • VIC 03 8373 7132

2015 Claas 830 Ax­ion. 4460hrs, C-Matic trans, auto steer, good tyres, clean. • VIC 03 8373 7478

2016 Claas Ax­ion 850. 6.7L eng ZF, C-Matic trans, al­most 1400hrs. • WA 08 6500 0947

Claas Ax­ion 850.50 Ce­bis. 264hp, CVT 50kph trans, Proactiv front susp. • NSW 02 6171 3039

5. Equipped with a stain­less steel ex­haust and 18 LED work lights 6 & 7. A well laid out in­te­rior and in­tu­itive con­trols

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