EUROPEAN farm machinery manufacturer CLAAS continues to innovate while it pushes to increase its market share in Australia.
The latest news from the company revolves around its ARION 400 Series tractors, due to arrive in Australia in September.
The line-up features six models delivering between 67-104kW (90-140hp), with features and technology normally only found on larger horsepower tractors.
These include optional front suspension, front linkages, automatic differential locking, automatic four-wheel drive and power take-off activation/deactivation, headland management systems and dynamic steering.
CLAAS Tractors group product manager Dave Knowles, said the new series had been completely redesigned from the wheels up.
“Over the past few years, CLAAS has concentrated on modernising its offering in the medium and large horsepower tractors,” he said.
“Now, CLAAS is proving it is an innovative force in the lower horsepower segment by completely redesigning the ARION 400 series.
“With six engine ratings, four cab structures and a range of specifications, ARION 400 can meet every need in the highly competitive 75 to 112kW (100-150hp) segment.”
A distinctive feature of the new models is the award-winning Panoramic cab, which features a continuous windscreen-roof panel.
“The 2.4 cubic metre one-piece windscreen gives the driver a completely new sense of space,” Mr Knowles said.
“There is no crossbeam between the windscreen and the polycarbonate roof panel, giving the driver an unrestricted field of vision.”
This stunning design has won several international accolades, including a SIMA Gold Innovation Award and an iF Design Award.
Alternatively, cabins can be specified with conventional or opening windscreens, glass skylights or a five-pillar cab.
Other options include a single-door or low roof cabins.
With its balanced weight distribution, a long wheel base (2.5m, 8ft) and a short length (4.4 m, 14.5ft), the design of the ARION 400 borrows heavily from the ARION 600/500 and AXION 900/800 series.
“Like its larger counterparts, its narrow body allows a high steering lock angle to achieve a compact 4.4 to 4.9 metre turning circle,” Mr Knowles said.
“The engine sump is integrated into the frame, saving space and making maintenance easier.”
CLAAS has chosen a powerful and fuel-efficient 4.5 litre, four cylinder FPT engine with modern common rail injection (1600 Bar), a turbocharger and charge air cooling for the ARION 400 series.
“These engines are fully compliant with Stage IV (Tier 4) emissions standards,” Mr Knowles said.
“They use a two-stage catalytic converter system that does not require an external exhaust gas recirculation system or a diesel particulate filter.
“All components are positioned under the bonnet to allow the driver a free field of vision to the front.”
ARION 400 can be specified with either Hexashift (24/24) or Quadrishift (16/16) powershift transmissions.
“The Hexashift transmission has four automated ranges and six power-shift stages,” Mr Knowles said.
“All 24 gears can be conveniently changed using the multi-functional lever, without having to use the clutch pedal.
“The large gear overlap allows the optimum rpm and driving speed can be selected for each application.
“It can be used on the road at a lower engine rpm, reducing noise and fuel consumption.
“The driver also has the option to use the fully automatic HEXACTIV powershift mode.”
Three hydraulic circuits are available – a 60L/min open circuit, a dual pump 100L/min open circuit and a 110L/min load-sensing hydraulic circuit.
ARION 400 can be specified with CLAAS Sequence Management headland management system, which enables key tractor functions, such as engine and PTO rpm, power lift and electronic controls, to be saved as operating sequences.
“CSM significantly reduces workload on the driver, especially when it comes to complex driving manoeuvres that require numerous and repetitive steps,” Mr Knowles said.
Other options include the newly-developed dynamic steering system, which reduces the number of steering wheel rotations required to lock the steering.
The number of steering wheel rotations from lock to lock can be reduced from 4.5 to three or even one rotation at the touch of a button.
“This makes steering-intensive work, such as when using a front-loader or negotiating headlands, significantly easier,” Mr Knowles said.
The dynamic steering system, which has three modes, is engaged via a button in the right-side console.
About 90 per cent of all work can be executed with the steering angle dependent mode, where the steering automatically accelerates the stronger the turn.
In the speed-dependent mode, the steering transmission is automatically reduced as the tractor speed increases above 10 km/h.
Using the third mode, the steering transmission is manually adjusted independent of the speed or steering angle lock.
All models feature an ergonomically-designed, multi-function lever that controls the front-end loader, rear linkage and optional electro-hydraulic or hydraulic controls.
“You use your left hand to steer and your right arm to operate all the tractor’s key functions,” Mr Knowles said.
“You can switch through all the gears, change direction of travel and use the front-end loader and spool valve functions using your thumb.”
The ARION 400 boasts several external storage spaces, including a toolbox above the battery and a storage box for the lower link balls mounted on the rear mudguard.
ARION 400 joins the new generation XERION 5000 (390kW, 524hp), AXION 900 (239-306kW, 320-410 hp), AXION 800 (156-201kW, 210 to 270 hp) and ARION 600/500 (111-137kW, 149-184 hp) series, which have been released in Australia over the past five years.