McCormick XTX200 E-Plus
Forget stopping to change gears, Terry Stevenson finds a tractor that pretty much does everything for you
With some tractors, it’s easy to find the strong points and go straight to them. On McCormick’s new XTX200 E-Plus, it didn’t take me long to zero in on the awesome eight speed power-shift transmission system for each of its four ranges.
Although the XTX200 has a healthy 198hp six-cylinder McCormick Beta-Power engine with a very broad torque curve (maximum 850Nm with power management), after the test I was left wondering if it needed all that power. The reason why is because the operator can easily change gear and range at any time, tending keep the right hand on the fighter jet-like joystick controller, instead of on the steering wheel. When the tractor comes under any type of load, their hand is "on the button" so they can simply press the power-shift button to change down a gear at any time. This keeps the engine spinning at the revs where it makes the most power, without unduly straining the powerplant or drive train, and avoids the requirement to stop and start again if the gear change happens to be at the edge of a range change.
The first tractor with a true eight-stage powershift, the eight gears in each range is huge boost for any contractor who doesn’t like stopping to change gear or range. In another tractor, if you’re in a range and in the fourth powershift, you would hesitate to pull the next gear and range up, but, with the McCormick, you just push a button.
Range changes are also easy. Going up or down, just keep holding the button in and it will range change for you, the tractor automatically speed-matches to the right gear within the next range for the engine. Or, if you’d rather go down to the next incremental gear, but in a lower ratio, depress the joystick trigger finger button at the same time as the usual down button.
This will take you from first gear, second ratio to eighth gear, first ratio. It is exactly the same going up the ranges. In the high range, the gearbox acts the same as an automatic car’s transmission by changing up or down for you while automatically setting the optimum engine speed. I found that when changing gears or range, I could barely feel it; it really was that smooth and was much the same story with the power shuttle. The transmission package is clearly more flexible and reduces overall strain on the entire drive train.
The six-cylinder engine is mounted within a heavy vibration-absorbing cast iron frame. Under the hood is McCormick’s four-valves-per-cylinder 6.7 litre Beta-Power (formerly known as Cummins) diesel engine fed by a Bosch common rail injection system. Helping out is an intercooled turbocharger. Like most tractors, it makes a massive amount of torque largely thanks to it’s highly over-square bore versus stroke design, which runs out at 104mm x 132mm respectively. Because it has so much power, it couldn’t be fully tested out in the paddock with no real load on it other than a heavy dual-axle trailer.
As expected, the five external (one electronically controlled with button activation and four manual outlets controlled by two small joysticks) hydraulic outlets have a large 163lpm capacity and are capable of feeding the most power hungry implements. With a total tractor weight of 7205kg (without front weights) inside a 2873mm wheelbase, it’s easy to see that McCormick has put a lot of metal into the XTX200, with the rear linkage rated to lift almost 11,000kg. On each rear guard you’ll find PTO start/stop and linkage rise/fall buttons.
Inside the roomy cab is a flat platform supporting an air suspended seat. There is a reasonably sized odds‘n’ends tray behind the seat and a small storage console on the left, which has a nifty foldout to horizontal lid for note taking. Above the operator is the standard array of air conditioning vents (with cab side intakes), pull-down sun visor and CD/radio. The XTX200 E-Plus seems to have fewer operational controls than other big tractors, possibly because more are mounted on the "stick".
A flip-up lid under the armrest protects the flow and duration controls for the hydraulic remote valves. The mirrors are a good size and are heated to retain rear visibility on those cold and misty early mornings. The dash has an easy to read red LED display with all the required functions, including a mini computer to measure job mileage through its ground speed radar system. The biggest difference in the four-post cab is the complete absence of the ‘B’ pillar, leaving superb visibility in all directions.
It’s hard to find something that’s not there, because even in a rough paddock, thanks to the very heavily fabricated front suspension, the McCormick wasn’t bouncing about all over the place. Why? Unique to the McCormick suspension is the addition of rebound dampening (in addition to the usual compression dampening) on the suspension unit, preventing amplified spring oscillations as the spring recoils – a feature which appeared on road bikes years ago.
The unique self-centralising "active" cab suspension levels the cab regardless of the number of people inside and has an added advantage as even when driving on a slope the tractor maintains a horizontal position for the operator with up to 110mm fore and aft travel.
A nice surprise with this McCormick was the huge amount of feel available through the brakes, which were actually better than on my Holden SUV. Even with a big trailer on the back, the McCormick hauled up really well going down the slope because I could "feel" what it was doing.
So who can make use of all those features and how do they use them?
Hinuera contactor Phil Hawke has over 20 years’ experience and operates Phil Hawke Contracting Ltd. From Putaruru to Waharoa and Cambridge, most of his work involves hay, silage and maize production, turnip sowing, and ground work, with up to seven staff in the busy season.
Phil Hawke Contracting presses both square and round hay bales and bought the XTX200 E-Plus for its horsepower, mainly to work the company’s big Vicon RV1901 square baler and for cultivation with its new big rotary plough. Since the purchase last November, the team has already clocked up more than 700 hours. They are busy people and last season produced 17,000 square and 25,000 round hay bales. This winter the contracting business also moved into fencing, with two staff working in the local area. Phil Hawke Contracting also runs a John Deere 6820, a 6420, and a 100hp Case IH.
Hawke and his family live on a 10ha lifestyle block, and he also manages his parent-in-law’s 32ha farm next door which is used for maize and grazing. Hawke looked around before deciding on the McCormick, saying what made the difference to him was that it wasn’t as large as some of its competitor.
He thought the McCormick might have been good for cultivation only work, but more difficult to get through narrow gateways when doing hay. "It’s not too big a tractor, but it’s big enough to do the job," Hawke says. He first saw the award-winning tractor, which was only launched last year, when he went to the UK on a Power Farming Grasslands tour.
"It’s easy to drive and has heaps of grunt, it certainly pulls and lugs down really well. Having so many gears available, you’re always going down the gears anyway so it never really gets to the stage where it’s going to stall. On tractors with a gear change you’d let it lug down a lot more. You drive this tractor differently to others because you set the engine speed and use the buttons to go up and down, whereas with other tractors you use the foot throttle because you haven’t so many gears," says Hawke, who says he enjoys an approximate 10 percent productivity improvement because of it.
"You’re always in the right gear, not grabbing the next one because 20m up the road you have to change down again. You’re going at the optimum speed all the time because it’s so easy. I like the gearbox, it makes it easier to drive. The suspension is excellent. I don’t think I’d buy another tractor without suspension, it makes the day so much easier, you don’t get out feeling as though you’ve been knocked around all day."
By Terry Stevenson
For more information see your nearest Power Farming dealer.
McCormick XTX200 E-Plus
Max power (with Power Management) PS/kW 198/146 (213/157)
Rated power (with Power Management ) PS/kW 182/134 (194/143)
Rated speed rpm 2200
No of cylinders 6TI
Number of valves 24
Constant power range (rpm) 1700-2200
Max.Torque (with Power Management) Nm 800 (850)
Engine rpm @ max torque (with Power Management) 1300-1600 (1650)
Torque rise (with Power Management) 38 (37()
Fuel tank capacity (ltrs) 324
No. of speeds – XtraSpeed (8 speed powershift) 32 + 24
No. of speeds with creeper XtraSpeed (8 speed powershift) 48 + 40
No. of speeds – XtraSpeed-E (8 speed powershift) 32 + 24
No. of speeds with creeper XtraSpeedE (8 speed powershift) 48 + 40
Maximum lift capacity (kg) 10,950
WEIGHTS, DIMENSIONS & TYRES
Min.shipping weight (kg) 7205
Maximum front axle load (up to 10kph) 7100
Maximum rear axle load (below 10kph) 16200
Overall length (mm) 5307
Overall width across rear fenders (mm) 2300 Std fenders/
Height (mm) 3012