Taking a turn in the new Claas Arion 600
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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