19 December 1997

Lot of uses needed to

justify tag

A combination of self-

propelled machine, load

carrier and tractor, is how

Claas describes its Xerion

2500. So what is such a

machine like to drive?

Geoff Ashcroft spent a

day at the controls

CENTRAL cab, rear load platform and front/rear linkages – a basic concept first exploited by Mercedes-Benz with its MB-Trac, and one which can now be found in the guise of the 250hp Claas Xerion 2500.

But the Xerion is a much different beast. To begin with, it offers the ability to reposition its cab in one of three locations, to enable the machine to be employed for a wide variety of tasks.

Being a computer-controlled machine, whichever way the cab faces is the way the computer identifies as being the front of the machine. With the cab swung round to the rear, this becomes the front of the machine and all controls operate as they did in the conventional driving position.

It means the Xerion always drives forwards and all you need to do is put the cab in the position required, and drive.

Complementing the multi-position cab is a computer-controlled eight-speed transmission which offers four modes of operation. Like several other stepless transmissions, the Xerion splits its power between hydrostatic and mechanical sections of the transmission.

In operation, the transmission provides a stepless speed range from 0-40kph, with Claas claiming that the transmission has full powershift capability in forward and reverse.

And, theres also the choice of up to four steering modes – one of which enables the front axle to be steered conventionally, while simultaneously steering the rear axle using the main joystick lever.

"You could say Xerion is the next generation MB-Trac," explains Simon Weeks, Claas business development manager. "Its a compromise between self-propelled machine, load carrier and tractor, and being able to do the jobs of all three.

"This way, the Xerion should not spend eight or nine months tucked away in the back of a barn like so many high horsepower tractors."

Using both ends of the machine and its load-carrying platform area behind the cab, the Xerion can be decked out with harvesting kit, tankers, seed and fertiliser hoppers for example. Its carrying capacity tips the scales at 20t.

FARMERS WEEKLY tracked down one of three Xerions currently operating in the country to find out what its like to drive.

Seated in the Vista cab (taken from the Lexion combine and Jaguar forager ranges) high up on the Xerion gives a commanding view to the front and sides. However, wide B-posts combined with small rear windows dont help rearward visibility, though Claas has fitted electrically-adjustable truck-sized rear view mirrors, which do help.

Because the cab swivels front-to-rear, theres an absence of levers in the cab, with low pressure hydraulic pipes and electric cables used extensively. As a result, the right-hand console is comprehensively furnished with switches, dials, buttons and a programmable information display.

The main hydraulic linkage settings such as rate of drop, lift height and draft sensitivity are divorced from the main console, being grouped on the B-post. Once set, they can be forgotten about.

Also noticeable is the lack of gear lever – only a hydrostatic-type joystick extending from the seat armrest. It carries forward/reverse buttons, rear linkage raise/lower, fourth spool valve control. In addition, sliding the joystick fore/aft gives an increase/decrease of vehicle speed, while leaning the joystick

A combination of self-

propelled machine, load

carrier and tractor, is how

Claas describes its Xerion

2500. So what is such a

machine like to drive?

Geoff Ashcroft spent a

day at the controls

CENTRAL cab, rear load platform and front/rear linkages – a basic concept first exploited by Mercedes-Benz with its MB-Trac, and one which can now be found in the guise of the 250hp Claas Xerion 2500.

But the Xerion is a much different beast. To begin with, it offers the ability to reposition its cab in one of three locations, to enable the machine to be employed for a wide variety of tasks.

Being a computer-controlled machine, whichever way the cab faces is the way the computer identifies as being the front of the machine. With the cab swung round to the rear, this becomes the front of the machine and all controls operate as they did in the conventional driving position.

It means the Xerion always drives forwards and all you need to do is put the cab in the position required, and drive.

Complementing the multi-position cab is a computer-controlled eight-speed transmission which offers four modes of operation. Like several other stepless transmissions, the Xerion splits its power between hydrostatic and mechanical sections of the transmission.

In operation, the transmission provides a stepless speed range from 0-40kph, with Claas claiming that the transmission has full powershift capability in forward and reverse.

And, theres also the choice of up to four steering modes – one of which enables the front axle to be steered conventionally, while simultaneously steering the rear axle using the main joystick lever.

"You could say Xerion is the next generation MB-Trac," explains Simon Weeks, Claas business development manager. "Its a compromise between self-propelled machine, load carrier and tractor, and being able to do the jobs of all three.

"This way, the Xerion should not spend eight or nine months tucked away in the back of a barn like so many high horsepower tractors."

Using both ends of the machine and its load-carrying platform area behind the cab, the Xerion can be decked out with harvesting kit, tankers, seed and fertiliser hoppers for example. Its carrying capacity tips the scales at 20t.

FARMERS WEEKLY tracked down one of three Xerions currently operating in the country to find out what its like to drive.

Seated in the Vista cab (taken from the Lexion combine and Jaguar forager ranges) high up on the Xerion gives a commanding view to the front and sides. However, wide B-posts combined with small rear windows dont help rearward visibility, though Claas has fitted electrically-adjustable truck-sized rear view mirrors, which do help.

Because the cab swivels front-to-rear, theres an absence of levers in the cab, with low pressure hydraulic pipes and electric cables used extensively. As a result, the right-hand console is comprehensively furnished with switches, dials, buttons and a programmable information display.

The main hydraulic linkage settings such as rate of drop, lift height and draft sensitivity are divorced from the main console, being grouped on the B-post. Once set, they can be forgotten about.

Also noticeable is the lack of gear lever – only a hydrostatic-type joystick extending from the seat armrest. It carries forward/reverse buttons, rear linkage raise/lower, fourth spool valve control. In addition, sliding the joystick fore/aft gives an increase/decrease of vehicle speed, while leaning the joystick left/right controls the rear axle steering when crab mode is selected.

At first glance, the control console and functions of the Xerion appear daunting, but a crash-course in basic machine operation and a 100-plus page operators handbook is quietly reassuring. The Xerion can be as simple, or as complex to operate, as required.

With the engine started, theres the opportunity to select one of four transmission control modes to suit the task ahead. These are Control, Accelerator, Constant Speed and Power.

&#8226 Control mode uses the joystick lever for stepless speed variation, with engine speed varied by the operator as required.

&#8226 Accelerator mode allows automatic speed control by pressing the accelerator.

&#8226 Constant mode allows a preset forward speed to be maintained, with varying engine and auxiliary drive speeds as required.

&#8226 Power mode provides fully automatic gearbox control to keep the engine output at its maximum.

Ploughing is the selected operation so the control lever approach is selected. With the engine set to maximum rpm, pressing the forward direction button and sliding the joystick control forward makes the machine move off in a gradual and progressive manner – according to how far the joystick lever has been pushed.

The machines information display carries two bar charts which indicate actual speed against how far the joystick has been moved.

Changing direction requires the reverse button to be pressed. By leaving the joystick in its preset position, the machine is progressively stopped then accelerated in reverse to match its previous forward speed.

In the relatively short time spent at the helm of the Claas Xerion it was difficult to feel completely at ease with the machine. A few more days in the seat would make it much easier to gain a better understanding of the Xerions many modes of operation.

That said, its easy to see the appeal of such a machine. But for many, justifying its £98,000 list price will require it to be a jack of all trades and used for a large part of the year.

And doing so could require a significant amount of reinvestment in attachments to exploit the true potential of the machine.

With 250hp, Xerion 2500 is more than at home with seven-furrow reversible. Inset: The Vista cab is a roomy, comfortable place to be. Control console is a plethora of dials, switches and buttons.

XERION 2500 DATA

&#8226 Engine: 250hp 6-cyl turbo, intercooled.

&#8226 Transmission: Hydro-mechanical with stepless speed change from 0-40kph. Choice of four operating modes.

&#8226 Load capacities: 5t lift at front linkage, 9.5t lift at rear, plus load platform – 20t in total.

&#8226 PTO systems: 1000rpm front and rear; 1500rpm central pto.

&#8226 Steering: front only, rear only, all-wheel and variable crab (latter uses steering wheel for front axle and joystick for rear axle).

&#8226 Price: £98,000.