Test: Case IH Maxxum 110 CVT
With stepless CVTs being quite commonplace these days in larger operations, Case IH took advantage of National Fieldays this year to introduce its Maxxum CVT range of tractors.
C B Norwood, New Zealand distributor of Case IH, chose the National Fieldays 2014 to release its all new Case IH Maxxum CVT lineup, featuring three tractors from 110-130hp — all with a CVT transmission.
Now, the lead up to the Fieldays can be pretty hectic for most exhibitors, but thankfully the guys from Case IH were happy to take some time to give me a preview of the new Case IH Maxxum 110 CVT tractor.
Although I got to drive both the Classic and the Ultimate spec machines, it's largely the Ultimate spec — featuring front axle suspension, 50kph road speed with air brakes, and AFS monitor — that I chose to concentrate on for this test.
The single-piece bonnet opens up nice and high to give access to the compact-yet-powerful engine, built by Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT), a subsidiary of CNH.
This is a four-cylinder, 4.5-litre, turbocharged engine using electronic common rail injection to maximise power while reducing fuel consumption. The electronic engine management system will give a power boost up to 143hp on demand under tough conditions, while an SCR system (AdBlue, for example) is used to treat exhaust gases after combustion to meet Tier 4 emissions standards.
Although I didn't get into any seriously demanding work on the day, the engine was very responsive. A fuel tank capacity of 175 litres of diesel and 37 litres of AdBlue will keep the machine working through the day and into the night.
Servicing intervals are definitely a stand-out point, and, although I have heard some disbelief in the past from others, Case IH maintains its stance on 600-hour suggested intervals for engine oil and filters, along with 1200-hour intervals for transmission oil, which leads to less downtime and lower running costs.
Anyone with doubts about the service intervals should note that Case IH provides an impressive three-year or 3000-hour warranty on its tractors. This shows its own confidence in the long oil change intervals and the quality of its product.
As with many machines these days, the cooling package at the front of the bonnet opens out like some sort of origami creation to give impressively-easy access to the four layers of radiators and intercoolers for servicing.
Trying to explain complex transmissions in simple terms has been the stumbling block of many a Farm Trader tester before me, so without getting too indepth and complicated — the Case IH CVT transmission uses a combination hydrostatic drive pump motor and a double-clutched mechanical gearbox, which work together to provide a smooth, stepless, variable-speed drive from 0-50kph.
The Active Stop component of the transmission means you can pull the Multifunction handle all the way back or release the drive pedal and the tractor will stop, without having to push the clutch or brakes. Cleverly, this also provides a form of engine braking that prevents the tractor from gaining speed downhill to give greater control over the machine.
This transmission is a simple, smooth experience to drive. The three working speed ranges give excellent control in all situations. They are adjustable, and can be changed on the fly. The aggressiveness of the transmission can also be varied.
Linkage and hydraulics
Lift capacity of the three-point linkage on the back of the Maxxums never ceases to amaze me — the whopping 7864kg on a 110hp tractor is more than capable of meeting any demand on this size of machine.
The quick-link CAT 2 hook arms, along with turnbuckle and pin-style stabiliser arms make hitching up implements a breeze. The main hydraulic pump provides an impressive 125 litres per minute, which will be more than adequate for almost all demands, while a separate dedicated pump with a 40-litre-per-minute output is used for the steering circuit to ensure there's always enough oil for steering.
There is an array of options available for hydraulic remote valve for these machines, from up to four at the back, along with front linkage and mid-mount valves for loaders. But standard on the Ultimate spec machine are four sets of remote valves which are electronically controlled.
The low point is the fact the rear remote valves are stacked vertically on the right-hand side of the top link. This is a pain when you tend to be hitching up implements from the left-hand side. They are numbered from the bottom to the top, too, which seems to defy logic.
Case IH has largely hit the mark with the cab on the Maxxum, which is a spacious four-posted affair that comes standard with a tinted back window to shield you from the sun.
Once up in the cab, there is a large deluxe air seat for the operator and a comfortable jump seat for any co-pilots, the familiar tan upholstery is pleasing on the eye, and the steering column and dash is easily adjusted with a foot pedal.
My praise goes to the man at Case IH who finally decided to move the air-conditioning controls from the rear pillar to the roof on the right-hand side, making them far easier to use while driving. Extra slots next to the air-con and a radio in the roof also provide a convenient spot for a CB radio or extra storage, along with the ample-sized removable bin on the left-hand side of the seat.
Several digital displays, corresponding buttons, and lights are built into the right-hand A-pillar to give the operator are clear view of the tractor's vital stats. Cab suspension compliments the front axle suspension to give a smooth ride.
Controls for the tractor are by and large contained on the right-hand armrest of the seat, which is easily adjusted into just the right spot.
Up front on the Ultimate spec machine is the Advanced Farming Systems (AFS) 700 monitor, which is the same ISOBUS touchscreen monitor found across the CNH range that uses customisable screens that can display a wealth of information. They’re also being able to run ISOBUS compatible implements and cameras.
The heart of the controls is the familiar Multicontroller, now featuring in almost all Case IH models over 100hp. On the face, redesigned, larger raised buttons are used to change direction and change the work speed range. There's a scroll wheel on the underside used to adjust the maximum speed of each work range, and a further four buttons give control of the linkage and a hydraulic remote valve.
The Multicontroller also controls the engine rpm and hence the speed of the tractor by pushing it forward. One problem was that when pushed right forward, your hand can hit the bottom of the AFS 700 screen.
A row of switches gives control over the hydraulic remote valves, along with a small programmable joystick that will be handy if a loader is fitted. A split eco-drive slider behind the Multicontroller makes it easy for operators to set the minimum and maximum engine speed for the task at hand. A membrane panel uses well-laid-out, colour-coded pictorial buttons that effectively give control over the rest of the functions of the tractor. PTO speeds are selected via a large lever near the rear pillar.
The Case IH Maxxum 110 CVT is a great all-round package, combining the simplicity, familiarity, and features that are already common place in the Maxxum range, with benefits of a proven and reliable CVT transmission found in the larger Case IH models.
Subtle changes in the cab, such as moving the air-conditioning controls to the roof, increased storage compartments, and a tinted rear window, all get a big thumbs-up from me. While the location and layout of the rear remote valves is a hindrance when hitching up implements, it isn't a deal breaker and could easily be sorted by Case IH.
What this model does well is it opens up the benefits of a CVT transmission to a market that previously would have found it tough to justify the extra expense by providing an economical option.
- CVT stepless transmission
- 600hr engine oil/filters and 1200hr transmission oil servicing
- Large spacious cab with comfortable operator's seats
- Well-designed three-point linkage with a massive lift capacity
- Three-year/3000-hour warranty
- Hydraulic remote valves inconveniently placed and labelled
- AFS 700 monitor can obstruct the Multicontroller in some positions
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