Profile: Claas Axion 900 and Xerion 5000

Farm Trader takes a closer look at the Axion 900 and Xerion 5000 series tractors

The Claas Axion 960 and Xerion 5000

Claas has enjoyed its fair share of machinery innovations over the years. The early Claas combine harvesters changed the game in Europe. Then, there are the company’s core forage equipment and Jaguar forage harvesters. Today, half of all foragers sold globally are Jaguars.

However, with the opportunity to spend some time at a Claas facility in Germany – back in the days when we could freely travel around the world – it was turn to put the Claas tractors under the spotlight, namely the Claas Axion 960TT and the Xerion 5000TS.

At that stage, the Xerion 5000TS was merely a concept and yet to be released to the world, while the Axion 960, featuring the new Terra Trac system, had just received a substantial global launch at the Agritechnica trade fair.

Naturally, our eyes were initially drawn to the Axion 960 and the Terra Trac, a flat ‘half-track’ system that had been trialled on the Lexion and Jaguar harvesters, now punched onto the rear of the company’s flagship Axion tractor. It was an impressive tractor to look at.

First impressions

At first glance, it’s clear the Terra Trac system is intended to act almost like a hybrid between a wheeled tractor and traditional tracked tractors. It provides the comfort of a wheeled machine and the flexibility in variable soil conditions that you get with a traditional tracked machine. Claas claims you get 15% more traction and 50% less ground pressure with Terra Trac.

And that’s the beauty of this fully suspended flat track style system – it rides like silk, which is amazing compared to regular tracked machines. Normal tracked systems can be a rigid experience and throw you around inside the cabin, especially on roads, while two-track machines can be quite sensitive to steer. However, the Axion still uses its front wheels to steer so you remove that horrible feeling of side steer. We haven’t had a chance to test it in the field, but we presume this also removes headland scuffing as a result.

To push this big girl along, Claas has fitted it with an 8.7-litre, six-cylinder FPT power plant and a continuously variable transmission. It has a top speed of 40km/h, understandably lower than the wheeled variant, and pushes out an impressive 445hp (327kW) and 1860Nm of torque.

Other key specs and features include four-way suspension and front-axle suspension on top of the suspended Terra Trac. You also get the impressive 12-inch (30cm) Cebis display and armrest that is right up there with Valtra as one of the best on the market and a neat 7.5-metre turning circle.

The Axion 960 with the Claas Terra Trac system added. The fully suspended flat track style system makes for a smooth ride.

What is Xerion?

Regardless of your tractor affiliations and brand colours, I’d think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-looking tractor than the Claas Xerion 5000.

It’s a brute of a machine that’s intended to go toe-to-toe with the ‘Yank Tanks’ of the red or green persuasion, and Claas is adamant to show the world that its Xerion range can play ball in the high-horsepower game.

For example, the Xerion 5000 gets its power from an impressive six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz OM471 LA engine that pushes out a max of 530hp (395kW) and a whopping 2600Nm of torque. For all engine buffs out there, this is the same beast that’s kicking goals in the game-changing Mercedes Actros truck.

You can also opt for the smaller Xerion 4500 with 490hp (360kW) of power or the ‘baby’ 4200 with 462hp (340kW). It’s important to note that the test machine that we drove was the tier four spec’d model, which is not available in Australia, and has now been replaced with Stage V compliant engines. However, you can get the Xerion 5000 with a tier-three Perkins 2206D 12.5-litre engine that pushes out 524hp (385kW) and 2353Nm torque.

For the transmission, you’ll find a well-known ZF CVT box. But, however capable and well equipped the Xerion series has been over the years, the German brute was missing a key ingredient – the main competitors of the tractor world all offer customers a tracked option. We wouldn’t dare get into the track vs. wheel discussion, but it’s important to note that the Xerion wasn’t playing in that field – until now.

The Xerion 5000 with a Tier 3 Perkins 2206D 12.5L engine

Of course, the decision to add tracks to the Xerion is more than a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ moment and has more to do with providing European customers with a high-horsepower tractor that can fit down those narrow roads – all versions of the machine are less than three metres wide – and offer similar traction to the wheeled machines. But you can’t tell us that this awesome tracked version hasn’t drawn the gaze of farmers who had previously never given the Axion the time ​​of day? Tracks are mean and striking, which makes it a little disappointing to know that Australia and New Zealand won’t be seeing a tracked Xerion anytime soon.

However, Claas tells us there’s a new Xerion 5000 on duals currently demonstrating in Western Australia, so you never know.

By taking over Renault Tractors in the mid-2000s, Claas had added the final piece of the puzzle to be a world player.

So, are we finally seeing Claas blossom as a tractor manufacturer? The Germans have a knack for making impressive machinery and the latest Axion TerraTrac and the Xerion 5000TS do not buck the trend.

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