On test: New Holland T7.230

New-Holland-T7.230-Auto-Command

To avoid an awkward comparison between two near-identical tractors, New Holland and Case decided to pitch the smallest long-wheelbase T7 against the biggest short-wheelbase Puma.

The blue version edged out its red rival, though there is little to separate them.

The T7 delivers a respectable maximum power figure, but relies heavily on boost, so there are stronger tractors when it comes to out-and-out pulling power.

Cab

Vital stats

  • Engine 6.7-litre, six-cylinder FPT
  • Max power 175hp
  • Transmission CVT
  • Hydraulics 142 litres/min at two valves
  • Max lift 8.9t
  • Entry-level list price £102,836
  • Price as tested £132,423

New Holland’s unmistakable duck egg wallpaper looks and feels the poor-man’s alternative to the Case, though the leather steering wheel and seat – with heating and ventilation, no less – sees drivers treated to just a smattering of extravagance.

It feels more spacious than the slightly claustrophobic Case, but the downside of its bigger body is poor forward visibility – a look at the front links is near-impossible.

New Holland’s four-poster also has fewer cubbies than most of its counterparts and, most notably, lacks a cool box.

The magic happens through the combination of control stick, colour-coded blister buttons and the touchscreen monitor. It’s simple, which makes a change from some of the more complicated machines and puts Massey’s migraine-inducing Datatronic screen to shame.

New-Holland-T7.230-Auto-Command-interior

Engine

Capacity-wise, its engine is beefier than all but the Valtra, yet rated power from the Fiat-built block is pretty low and, unlike most of its rivals, it makes use of just one lonely turbocharger.

Likes

  • Efficient transmission
  • High constant power
  • Well-organised controls
  • Quiet cab

Gripes

  • Clumsy turning circle
  • Low payload
  • Large portion of boosted power
  • Low hydraulic output

It comes with a cheeky 24hp boost that takes output for pto and transport work to a more respectable 199hp, but it was still below the average and went about its work in the six-point test in thirstier fashion than the rest.

It’s also worth remembering that boosted power is unavailable for draft tasks, so don’t be caught out by New Holland’s numbering system.

Maximum torque also languished fairly low down the league tables, but good constant power should maintain plenty of grunt through the rev range – an important factor for any tillage tractor.

Elsewhere, AdBlue does the dirty work where emissions are concerned, without the need for a particulate filter – although it’s unlikely that will remain the case when the next round of emissions rules comes in 2019.

Transmission

The T7 uses a beefed-up version of the four-speed, dual-clutch transmission also found in the Puma.

As the bigger of the two CNH tractors, the T7 measured up 10cm longer and came with a heavier front axle. In fact, it was the heaviest on test, reflected in its clumsy 13m turning circle. It was also without a quick-steer system, which most manufacturers now fit as standard.

Pulling power was a whisker below 150hp, which was considerably less than the three Agco tractors. However, it stood out as being refreshingly easy to drive – even if you are a newcomer to the world of CVT transmissions.

There are three speed-limited ranges on the Auto Command gearbox – F1, F2 and F3 – that are quickly adjusted on the screen or on a scroller, while cruise control is activated by a button on the joystick.

New-Holland-T7.230-Auto-Command-controls

Linkage and hydraulics

Things remain plain and simple where rear lift and hydraulics are concerned.

It juxtaposes the Fendt in using knobs and dials to deal with the key linkage settings, rather than relying on a degree of digital dexterity from the driver. Changes also pop up on the screen, so it’s crystal clear what has been adjusted – and by how much.

The DLG measured rear lift at an above-average 8.9t, but the biggest change since last time around has seen manufacturing of the front linkage taken back in-house from Dutch specialist Zuidberg.

Meanwhile, hydraulic output registered a top-scoring 144 litres/min at one valve, but failed to increase the flow across two spools. In total there were four rear valves, though unfortunately they were split either side of the top link.


UK verdict

New Holland managed to beat the rest to second place on the podium.

What has it got going for it? The T7 is a solid all-rounder – the engine is pretty good and the transmission is efficient, but what stood out for us was its simplicity.

Adjusting the three virtual ranges requires minimal brainpower and the layout of the armrest blister buttons around the diagram of a tractor means even novices can hone straight in on the controls they are looking for.

OK, so it’s pretty big and clumsy, but if you are buying it predominantly for heavy draft tasks then that’s not important. However, it is worth checking our test results for the power outputs in different situations.

Generally speaking, they are significantly lower than New Holland’s model numbering system would suggest – and max powers rely heavily on boost, which won’t be available for non-pto draft work.

The other big factor is price, and this machine stacks up pretty well in that regard.

Download the PDF of tractor specifications

The scores

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

Final score

3.9