Review: Claas Xerion 4500

By: Jaiden Drought

Presented by

The Claas Xerion 400hp packs plenty of punch, particularly when it comes to manoeuvrability and visibility, says Farm Trader NZ’s Jaiden Drought

Like most 490hp tractors, the Claas Xerion is an imposing beast
Like most 490hp tractors, the Claas Xerion is an imposing beast

Our expedition led us to the bustling metropolis of Temuka in South Canterbury, New Zealand where Grant Kinsman and his team run Kinsman Contracting, operating a large fleet of tractors, trucks and choppers.

While potatoes are the specialist crop that extends the harvest season for the crew, we were there to check out the machine that dominates the grass harvesting season – an all-Claas affair, the Xerion 4500 tractor with the Claas Disco triple mower.

As many tractor operators already know, you can have all the power in the world but if you can’t get it to the ground, then the whole exercise is useless.

Luckily, the Xerion uses its sheer mass and large diameter equal size tyres. If I remember my physics class correctly, weight (16.5 tonnes) + power (490hp) + large tyres (2.15 metres) = traction (lots).

However, size and power aren’t the most impressive party tricks the Xerion has. For a truly all-round versatility, the cab does just that – not your traditional reverse steer where the seat and a few instruments spin around, but rather the entire cab spins around, giving new meaning to working and transport settings (more on this later).

Under the massive bonnet is the 12.8L Mercedes engine
Under the massive bonnet is the 12.8L Mercedes engine

Engine

Firstly, the imposing bonnet. It needs to be sizable given that it houses the latest six-cylinder, 12.8-litre Mercedes engine. This is complete with Tier 4 final credentials, impressively achieved only by using selective catalytic reduction, meaning dual fuel: diesel and AdBlue.

Claimed maximum power is 490 horsepower (365kW), which is achieved at low revs, with a long constant power curve (most large horsepower machines use the low rev, high torque theory).

Due to the large torque figures from the low rev and constant power curve from the Merc, the Xerion only offers one power take-off (PTO) speed: 1,000rpm at 1,730rpm for high output at reduced fuel consumption.

Reversable fan is standard and given this particular machine is used as a mowing tractor, often, front-mounted mowers and tractor cooling packs have a daily tussle for supremacy. The Xerion has the three mowers clustered at the rear, giving the front of the machine (now driven backwards) clean, unrivalled air all day.

Transmission

The CMatic CVT transmission the Xerion is equipped with is the ZF Eccom 4.5, giving both hydrostatic and mechanical drive. In the crux of it, four multidisc clutches ensure a high mechanical component, with the flexibility of the Hydrostat giving the best of both worlds.

The Xerion has two virtual ranges, which can be changed on the move via the CMOTION in-cab controller. This differs from the three-range set-up in the smaller CVT machines in the Claas stable. Other noticeable absences are the more traditional steering column and left-hand shuttle of the smaller models. This machine is driven like the Jaguar or Lexion, with the steering wheel floor mounted for increased visibility. Best of all, the Xerion does 50km/h both forward and reverse so regardless of the application, top road speed can be achieved.

The Claas Xerion 4500's RaBa axles are rated to 20 tonnes
The RaBa axles are rated to 20 tonnes

Axles and Tyres

Our Claas Axion 4500 was equipped with 710/85 R38 rubber (various size options are available, including duals, etc.), which is monstrous at 2.15 metres tall and allowed the tractor to squeeze in just under three metres for transport.

The RaBa axles are rated to 20 tonnes and because of the clever steering and driveline configuration, make this a manoeuvrable heavyweight.

The driveline has one axial diff and two transverse diffs, allowing the driveline to be completely locked to get the staggering 490hp (365kW) to the ground. If getting power to the ground and treading lightly on the soil are requirements, then the different steering modes the Xerion is equipped with are just the ticket for the job:

  • Standard steering:four-wheel and front axle steering combined. Front axle only until five-degree steering lock, then rear axle follows electrohydraulically. At speeds > 12km sensitivity and steering lock reduced up until 40km when front steering only, rear axle fully locked.
  • All-wheel steering:Same as a telehandler, front and rear axle steer at the same time but in opposite directions
  • Crab steering:Three variations: full, single axle and reduced crab steer. All have different benefits but in a nutshell are perfect for spreading effluent, reducing ground compaction and managing drifting along sidelings.

A couple of other features about the steering to mention: the rear axle has a four-degree delay to stop any minor steering movement in order to control any accidental fishtailing on the road. Cab suspension is standard and the long 3.6-metre wheelbase and large sidewalls on the tyres does offer a smooth ride.

Hydraulics and linkage

This is where the Xerion is not only big in appearance but also delivers some serious lifting and pumping capabilities. The 195L/min swash plate pump is standard attire along with the option of an 80L/min additional circuit.

On top of these, Xerion can be ordered with a standalone Power Beyond pump that can deliver 220L/min for items such as demanding hydraulic motors if the application is required. There are up to six double-acting spools at the rear and two up at the front. The linkage itself is a serious bit of kit, let alone the eye-watering figures.

Rear lift arms are made from 55mm steel (wider than your arm), have Cat IV hooks, are double acting, and can continuously lift 10 tonnes with a max 13.6 tonnes, which is astronomical.

The front is equally impressive, with continuous double acting lift of 8.1 tonnes with a max 8.4 tonnes. Both front and rear are fitted with a heavy hydraulic top link, making implement adjustment a breeze. I think it’s fair to say that if heavy lifting is a requirement then the Xerion is the go-to.

The Claas Xerion 4500's unique rotating cab
The unique rotating cab

Cab

Just like the Led Zeppelin song, the seven steps up to the rotating cab are like something else. I must admit, though, they are steep. I did fall off during a dismounting attempt after missing a step (although, I wasn’t using the recommended technique).

The cab is wide but not very deep at a claimed 71d(B) at full load, and the large glass panes make this the business. This is before you even establish the lack of a traditional steering column and the fact that the whole cab rotates. For the Kinsman business, where the machine is solely used for mowing, this tractor is unreal. The fact that they are running mowers that are older and have a large number of hectares under their belt says two things: operator Richie maintains them to a high standard and the optimal bird’s eye-view over all three mowers mean that even in Canterbury, mowers can still last a long time.

The advantages of a rotating cab are obvious
The advantages of a rotating cab are obvious

The CMATIC armrest and controls all obviously turn with the cab, meaning that no matter what the direction, the operator has the full array of controls at their fingertips. The mowers are controlled through ISOBUS in the CEBIS terminal. This isn’t touch screen, so can be harder than some of the competition to navigate around. Using the sub-menus and scroller, however, the operator doesn’t miss out on any functions; just a small bit of functionality.

Verdict

This is a large specialist machine and for the jobs the Kinsman Contracting team use it for, its performance is unparalleled. The ability of the fully rotating cab, long wheelbase with equal size tyres, and variety of steering modes make the Claas Xerion 4500 is a must-see if you’re in the market for a high horsepower machine. If you’re uncoordinated like me, concentrate when mounting this trusty steed.

PLUSES

  • The cab rotates!
  • Best-in-market visibility and versatility
  • Max 490hp from the massive 12.8L engine
  • Long wheelbase and large profile equal size tyres allow the power to be transferred to the ground
  • Various steering modes giving greater versatility
  • Outstanding visibility over
  • the implement when rear mounted
  • Even when constant flow is selected on spools, controls still have proportional control
  • Rear pressure release levers
  • 6 rear, two front spools
  • 195L/min hydraulic flow
  • Massive 13.6T rear and 8.4T front lift capacities

MINUSES

  • Cab interior was a little dated compared to the competition in this horsepower sector. Additionally, no touch screen CEBIS required scrolling through menus.
  • No front suspension offered


CLAAS XERION 4500

Engine                          Mercedes 12.8L 490hp (max)

Trans                            CVT 50km in both directions

Hydraulics                     195L/min

Lift capacity (max)         Front 8.4T, Rear 13.6T

Weight                          16,570kg

Wheelbase                     3.6m

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