On test: Case IH Puma 175 CVX

Case-IH-175-CVX-exterior-rating

The Puma paid the price for being the smallest tractor in the test. The lightweight Case was outmuscled by most of its rivals, but still went about its work fairly frugally. If we had been given the longer-wheelbase version – a match for the New Holland T7 – then it would have come closer to the test top spot.

Cab

Physically speaking, the Puma was the runt in our litter of 200hp tractors. Its compact dimensions may well make it a more versatile member of the fleet, but the pay-off for that flexibility is a lower payload and smaller cab.

Vital stats

  • Engine 6.7-litre, 6-cyl FPT
  • Max power 172hp
  • Transmission CVT
  • Hydraulics 131 litres/min at two valves
  • Max lift 7.7t
  • Entry-level list price £95,799
  • Price as tested £111,867

The brown-and-beige office forms a cosy workplace, but the box-section frame curves inwards at head height and means the driver’s personal space will be invaded as soon as there’s a passenger.

Like its blue brother, the Case also suffers from a lack of storage and the space-hogging armrest does nothing to ease the nerves of claustrophobia sufferers.

Dash dials were relocated to the A-pillar some years ago and show largely the same information as the main armrest computer. The screen itself is pretty basic anyway, and you can even choose to do without it to knock a few quid off the price.

Case-IH-175-CVX-interior

Engine

Likes

  • Simple
  • Generally good consumption
  • Smooth ride, given compact size
  • Dial adjustment for linkage

Gripes

  • Clumsy turning circle
  • Low removable oil
  • Small payload
  • Sensitive throttle pedal

Fiat provides the firepower in the shape of a 6.7-litre block with an AdBlue system to blast the worst of the emissions, just as it does for the New Holland.

The latest round of emissions regulations has seen an engine brake foot pedal added to help get the block up to temperature more quickly after start-up, which is required for the SCR emissions system to work efficiently.

The tractor managed to register a maximum output of 196hp with its boost engaged, which leaves it looking a little lacklustre against its rivals. Consumption stats generally make good reading for Puma owners, but the results drifted below the average once partial loads were taken into account.

The two engine rev memories are simple to use, but the function of the split hand throttle is more confusing. The left side governs the minimum engine speed and the right side limits the maximum – but with no labels, new drivers can be excused for feeling a little lost.

Transmission

The Puma 175 can be ordered with a CVT gearbox only, though its internals differ from that of the T7 because of its size.

While the blue one gets a four-range stepless set-up, the Case engineers have opted for a lighter-weight, two-range gearbox that shifts imperceptibly at about 12kph. It means the Case version has fewer points of total mechanical drive, which make it slightly less efficient.

However, from a driver’s point of view the design of the joysticks is the only obvious way to tell them apart, and we would give New Holland’s return-to-centre design the nod over the long gate-and-slider combination of the Case.

That’s mainly as it feels pretty odd accelerating in reverse by pushing the stick forwards.

As for performance, the Puma transmission was able to put 141hp to the ground, which put it bottom of the pile by a fair distance.

Case-IH-175-CVX-controls

Linkage and hydraulics

As you would expect from the smallest tractor on test, its 7.5t lift capacity was more than 500kg below the group average and its 4t payload was also pretty smalltime compared with the others.

We liked the controls, though – particularly the reliance on simple dials that provide the driver with a better feel for adjustments than tapping icons on a touchscreen.

Its hydraulic performance was also below par. Removable oil measured at just 30 litres – almost 20 litres below the average – and flow at the valves was also a little underwhelming.

Hydraulic and transmission oils are in the same system, which puts the tractor’s internals in grave danger should the brakes disintegrate on the road, and the rear valves are split either side of the top link, which makes most spool-hungry implements a pig to couple up.

UK verdict

We can’t help but feel a little sympathy for the Case, which fell foul of CNH’s shared components strategy.

To avoid sending near-identical tractors, a smaller Puma turned up – rather than the 185 model that would have been the T7.230’s equal. The DLG results make it look like the weak link, in power terms at least, though it still went about its business fairly frugally.

Aside from the potentially confusing split throttle, it’s a simple tractor to operate, which will suit fleets where tractors have several different drivers. The screen has fewer functions than the rest and relies on dials for linkage adjustments, which give a better feel for in-field tweaks, in our opinion.

The other factor is price, where it comes in far cheaper than the rest.

However, it has a lower payload and relies heavily on a boost function, which you need to bear in mind if it’s going to be doing a lot of tillage work.

A few other things let it down, most notably the layout of the spool block at the back.

Download the PDF of tractor specifications

The scores

Build quality Three-and-a-half stars
Cab/ergonomics four stars
Engine Four stars
Gearbox four stars
Rear linkage stars
Hydraulics 3 stars
Pto stars
4wd/diff four stars
Handling Four stars
Driving comfort four stars

Final score

3.7