Claas Arion tractors are the brand’s biggest sellers, including 7 models from 125–185hp. Recent updates improve performance and functionality, and David Williams visited a Norfolk farm which took delivery of one of the first of the new models.
The updated Arion series had its official launch at the German Agritechnica show in November, but several pre-series tractors worked in Europe and the UK last year.
The Arion line-up includes 500-series models with a 4.5-litre, 4-cyl engine and the 600-series with a 6.8-litre, 6-cyl power unit and a longer wheelbase.
Transmission options include Claas Hexashift powershift or CMatic CVT.
Three different specification levels include CIS, CIS+ with Drivestick control, and Cebis with a touch-screen terminal and the CMotion multifunction joystick.
The 600-series flagship Arion 660 has up to 205hp available, including 20hp boost through Claas Power Management for PTO and transport tasks. It is available only with CMatic transmission which provides stepless 0–50kph control and includes three virtual speed ranges that can be programmed to suit the need. Separate cruise control speeds can be set for all three ranges.
Economy is boosted by two idle speeds; including 650rpm which is automatically selected if the tractor is left idling and stationary. Maximum 50kph travel speed is achieved with the engine at just 1,500rpm and engine ‘droop’ is selectable to achieve maximum performance or increased economy.
Lift capacity is 8t at the rear and up to 4t for the optional front linkage.
The new Arion 660, which meets Stage 5 emissions regulations, has the same power as current models, but like the rest of the Arion line-up gains improved torque back-up of up to 14 per cent at lower revs. All new 600-series models have improved forward visibility due to a smaller SCR catalyst mounted on the right-hand A-pillar.
Cebis-specification tractors have Isobus UT as standard, allowing the Cebis touch-screen to be used as a universal terminal to set up and operate Isobus-compatible implements.
Cebis tractors also offer the ability to link an engine speed memory button to the external PTO selector, which means engine revs automatically adjust to pre-set levels when the PTO is engaged.
New cab steps include a flexible bottom rung to avoid damage on rough ground, and an air connection below the cab door offers convenient tyre pressure adjustment in the field or easy blowing down.
Replaced previous brand
North Norfolk-based LG Harrison & Son has gradually moved to a Claas tractor-dominated fleet in recent years from another brand.
The family’s mixed farm, based at Stiffkey, is run by Matthew Harrison and specialises in early and maincrop potato production, with a contract to supply Norfolk-based Kettle Crisps. Other crops include oilseed rape, winter barley, spring barley, wheat and sugar beet. Beef cattle are reared for fattening or sold on.
Claas tractors are bought from and serviced by, local main dealer Manns at Thursford, and models operated currently include Axion 810, 870 and 920 along with Arion 650 and 660 machines. “Previously, most of our tractors were from another single manufacturer, but there was also a Renault 735 which gave excellent ride comfort and, as the predecessor to the Claas range, it encouraged us to consider the brand,” explained machinery operator Stephen Wright. “I do most of the potato harvesting with a Grimme trailed harvester and for that job being able to vary the speed infinitely offered advantages, so we also ran an additional premium brand tractor with
“By the time it was due for updating last year, we had become used to the Claas tractors and were impressed by their reliability and performance, so we ordered the new Arion 660 CMatic.”
It arrived in June and early tasks included mowing hay, manure spreading and moving irrigation equipment. In July it was put to work lifting potatoes with the two-row Grimme harvester at the rear and a front linkage-mounted Baselier topper. “This was the first time I had had a Claas as my main tractor and I’m very pleased with it. It’s reliable and comfortable and the extra power over my previous tractor and our Arion 650 is noticeable. It has been a particularly heavy potato harvesting season due to the wet conditions, but the new Arion did very well, and keeping on top of our own harvest meant we were also able to assist a neighbour by lifting some of his crop too.”
By the time of Farmers Guide’s visit, the Arion had clocked up 550 hours and the only issue had been a diesel blockage believed to be caused by contaminated fuel. This was promptly cured by replacing the filters.
Although the late season lifting was mostly in wet conditions, Stephen said that early harvesting was extremely dry and dust from the front flail in similar conditions previously had blocked the previous tractor’s cooling system, causing overheating. “The Claas remained cool and needed no extra cleaning and that impressed
me,” he added.
Stephen said he very much likes the layout and space of the Claas cab, including generous storage and a good fridge, and he says that even on narrow 380/90R50 rear, and 380/85R34 front tyres the ride is comfortable. “It’s very quiet and the visibility is excellent. I especially like the curved rear window which provides an unobstructed view to implements,” he explained.
The CMatic transmission is also a success and auto mode through which speed is controlled by the foot pedal, and Drivestick mode where the hand lever is used to set and adjust the speeds are preferred for different applications. For harvesting Stephen says Drivestick mode is excellent, allowing the speed to be set and ‘nudged’ up or down for precise control. He likes the CMotion joystick which is comfortable to use, with assignable buttons which can be programmed for a variety of functions and although most of the harvester functions are controlled through a Grimme control panel, the planter will provide opportunities for control through the tractor joystick.
The Cebis touch-screen is also proving popular and Stephen said it is very simple to set-up and use, and easy to see in all light conditions.
One big advantage of the Claas which has made Stephen’s job easier is draft control for the front linkage. “The previous tractor had only height adjustment, so if the topper dug in on uneven ground I had to operate the hydraulics to lift it. The Claas system allows me to set a suitable pressure and forget it, with the working height constantly adjusted.”
Another feature appreciated by Stephen is load-sensing hydraulics, which respond well to demand from the hydraulic-driven wheels of the harvester. “The heavy conditions provided quite a test at times and the Claas system performed well.”
Daily maintenance is easily carried out, apart from the engine oil dipstick which requires the operator to squeeze between the front of the cab and the front wheel. The transmission oil is easier to check using a relocated dipstick at the top of the cab steps and the air line connector has also proved useful, as the tractor and harvester spend most of the season out in the field so the on-board air supply is used daily for cleaning down.
Adblue is easily topped up through a filler by the cab steps and Stephen said consumption seems very low.
The latest Arion has a new front axle and an advantage is the reduced number of grease nipples to lubricate.
“I’m very pleased with the Arion 660,” Stephen concluded. “It’s highly manoeuvrable with an excellent turning circle, it’s nimble and responsive and has good acceleration which helps when pulling out from junctions on to the road. There is some transmission noise when pulling hard, but I think this has reduced since the tractor was new.
“It’s comfortable, reliable and suits our use well, and we know we can rely on Manns for efficient support.”